In an age of social media, smartphones and other digital distractions, many people worry that we aren’t spending enough time talking to each other face to face. But, conversation flowed freely around a table I recently hosted at the NASCIO (National Association of State Chief Information Officers) conference in Arlington, VA. As governments at all levels wrestle with what digital transformation means for any given agency or service, I thought sharing the consensus of opinions from three different groups of state IT professionals and vendors might be useful for all. The topic of conversation focused on how the participants defined the concept “digital transformation” and how that concept is translated into tactical action.

Everyone agreed that “digital transformation” is a broad topic that can be viewed through many lenses. The citizen perspective, though, quickly emerged as the most powerful lens. The group declared two overriding goals:  1) improving the quality of citizen interactions with the state; and, 2) lowering operating costs, as measured by return on investment, to be good stewards of tax dollars.

Through the conversations, these goals were elaborated into strategies for moving forward. The discussion groups listed key characteristics digital transformation plans must comprehend:

  • Producing client experiences that improve the lives of citizens (e.g, online experiences)
  • Understanding the possibilities of new technology (e.g., IoT, cloud, Big Data, etc) against the overriding goals
  • Determining appropriate measures of value (e.g., how do we gauge return on investment
  • Using and sharing data to better understand citizen behavior

These conversations at NASCIO will spawn more conversations as the participants get to work back home. The participants gave themselves action items including establishing vision and leadership, taking inventory of existing applications, talking to constituents to better understand expectations, and continuing the conversation among the states so everyone can learn from each other.

Across the all three discussion groups the consensus opinion was digital transformation will impact organizations for years to come.  In the short run, state organizations will need to continue to focus their attention on the technical and people impacts of the transformation journey.  A strong sense of urgency will be needed to reshape approaches to collaboration and reshape thinking as organizations seek to capture the full value of digital transformation.

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