Feb 11 2019

The Tools New State CIOs Can Use to Get Up to Speed

Knowledge management systems can help fill in the gaps and serve as repositories of best practices for new IT leaders.

On Election Day 2018, Democratic candidates won seven Republican governors’ seats — in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin — and a Republican won a Democratic seat in Alaska. Since November, and even a bit before, there has been a significant amount of turnover in the state CIO ranks. 

CIOs in Alaska, Colorado, FloridaHawaiiIllinois and Tennessee are among those who left their posts since the start of fall 2018. According to the National Association of State CIOs, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., all have new permanent or interim CIOs in 2019. Meanwhile, Florida’s CIO office remains vacant and 12 states got new CIOs in 2018

Add all of that up, and there are numerous new faces in positions of IT leadership across the country. Some have private sector backgrounds while others have long been involved in state government. Regardless of how much knowledge they may have had of a state’s technology operations before they got into the C-suite, new CIOs will start with some kind of deficit of knowledge about departmental priorities, the state of IT systems, best practices, personnel and more. 

New governors may need all the help they can get from existing IT teams, considering how quickly the topic can be drowned out by other priorities. To help governors execute innovation agendas, modernize state IT systems or enhance cybersecurity (as North Dakota hopes to do), CIOs need to get up to speed quickly. 

Knowledge management systems can help them do so by collecting knowledge and best practices, and giving IT leaders the resources and connections they need to get accustomed to a new environment.

MORE FROM STATETECH: These are the top state and local government IT trends to watch in 2019. 

What Is a Knowledge Management System?

According to Gartner, knowledge management is a discipline that “promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”

Knowledge management systems refer to any kind of IT system that retrieves knowledge to improve understanding, collaboration and process alignment, as HubSpot notes.

Such systems can enhance collaboration and help IT leaders find where knowledge is located. They can also mine repositories for hidden knowledge, and capture and use knowledge.

A KMS is “made up of different software modules served by a central user interface,” Technopedia notes. Such software can “allow for data mining on customer input and histories, along with the provision or sharing of electronic documents.” A KMS “can help with staff training and orientation, support better sales, or help business leaders to make critical decisions,” according to Technopedia. 

There are numerous KMS options available for state CIO offices to turn to, including from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Ivanti

And as a KMWorld article explains, the KMS model includes content management, information on how to locate experts, lessons-learned databases and communities of practice (COPs). COPs are particularly useful to new CIOs, since they are groups of individuals with shared interests who “come together in person or virtually to tell stories, to share and discuss problems and opportunities, discuss best practices, and talk over lessons learned.”

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How Knowledge Management Systems Can Benefit State CIOs

For new CIOs who are getting their feet wet, using a knowledge management system can help them get up to speed on IT priorities and other recent hires on board as well. 

As Deloitte notes, knowledge management helps improve decision-making by facilitating access to expertise and best practices. KMS also boosts efficiency, productivity and helps IT leaders work smarter by reducing cases of “reinventing the wheel” when they take over.

KMS also makes it easier to collaborate, which can spur innovation. They also limit “brain drains” when former CIOs and other leaders leave government, in part by capturing both explicit and tacit knowledge. 

A KMS can boost productivity by speeding up on-boarding trainings for new hires

If your state has not adopted a KMS, it should definitely consider doing so. State CIOs come and go with time, but the knowledge they accumulate should not.

This article is part of StateTech's CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.


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