Former Federal CIO Offers IT Modernization Tips

IT modernization continues to be a popular operational objective among businesses. In fact, more than one-third intend to funnel more funding toward system upgrade activities over the course of the year, according to research from the International Data Group. Of course, adding a line item in the budget and actually executing an IT modernization strategy are not one in the same. Despite good intentions, many organizations bungle the follow through, implementing half-baked strategies that catalyze little change, yet weigh on the balance sheet.

How do enterprises avoid this fate and successfully retrofit mission-critical processes and systems for the future? Tony Scott, the federal chief information officer under the Obama administration, discussed the topic with Fed Scoop, outlining some salient strategies for implementing a transformative IT modernization plan. Scott is intimately familiar with such efforts, having held high-ranking IT positions at major corporations such as Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, and the Walt Disney Company, according to the Federal CIO Council. He also understands how such projects can fall apart, even with extensive planning and resourcing. Scott worked with President Obama and Congress to develop an IT modernization strategy for the many legacy systems used throughout the U.S. government, FedTech reported. Unfortunately, concrete plans never materialized.

Using these experiences, both good and bad, the former federal CIO offered key insights into how companies might execute a workable mass upgrade.

Changing the culture
Scott first addressed the issue of culture, telling Fed Scoop that IT modernization only works when implementers adjust the workplace more broadly before adopting new technology. This mainly involves helping operational stakeholders and everyday employees understand that change, despite the inconveniences that accompany it, is a necessity. Instead, Scott explained, organizations wait until disaster unfolds to jumpstart technological improvement efforts. 

While repositioning workplace culture takes tremendous effort, it can be achieved. How? Business leaders should focus on four key variables, according to the consultant firm Accenture. Employees should be encouraged to embrace disruption and data-driven decision-making. Additionally, executives should give their staff the tools they need to operate with change in mind and effectively evaluate potential risks that come along with technology-based workflows.

"IT modernization only works when implementers adjust the workplace more broadly before adopting new technology."

Getting the right internal and external talent
Scott also touched on the topic of talent. The former federal CIO told Fed Scoop that business leaders should carefully consider who will be on the implementation team and choose only those with the skills and experience necessary to meaningfully contribute to IT modernization efforts. For Scott, this required developing what he called a "rotational program," which involved cycling gifted contributors through the team to keep things fresh and cut down on burnout. He also advised companies to work with external partners to fill inevitable skill gaps.

CIOs and other technology experts are very familiar with this subject, as businesses across the country struggle to recruit fully-equipped IT teams, CIO reported. Third-party firms can offer up qualified experts with knowledge on central IT modernization topics such as data migration, platform integration and system security.

Thinking long term
IT modernization is often considered an extended one-off project, Scott told Fed Scoop. However, this perspective simply does not jibe with reality, according to the IT leader. Companies would be wise to spread out such initiatives over multiple phases so as to effectively address every aspect of the operation and encourage technological synchronicity.

With these strategies, organizations of all sizes can initiate IT modernization efforts and adopt transformative technology capable of opening up new revenue streams and widening margins. Is your organization looking to streamline its IT approach and begin the IT modernization journey? Connect with Inventu today. Our cutting-edge Flynet Viewer makes screen integration and modernization easy, meeting employer and staff expectations in a way that feels both familiar and simple. Review our product page to learn more about the Inventu Flynet Viewer and the other solutions in our product portfolio.