CIOCAN Members on Strategy

This blog is based on an interview with Shari Wallace, CIO for the City of Burnaby.

Recognizing the level of public scrutiny public sector organizations receive, and the traditionally risk-averse approach of governments, IT leaders face the question of how the public sector can effectively innovate to provide better service to citizens more efficiently.

The first step is clearly understanding what is driving the need to innovate.  Is the priority better allocation of resources, meeting citizens’ expectations, working with the private sector to ensure a competitive economy, or attracting the next generation of public sector leaders?

An often-observed but rarely examined point about public sector innovation is that it seldom occurs in a vacuum.  Innovation focused on addressing societal challenges often requires an ecosystem of actors working together and filling distinct but equally important roles.

Shari Wallace, CIO for the City of Burnaby shares some insights from her experience in the public sector.  Shari is a proponent of having some I.T. staff actually live in the business with departments. She also recommends having people from various parts of the business involved in implementing projects and making them testers.

“Every CIO has a tough role but I think one of the challenging things is how to service all of those lines of business.  The way that I’ve got to try to make it work is to know when I’m a partner to the business and when the business is a partner to IT.  I can’t possibly know all of the technologies that are coming up and all of those lines of business, so I really trust my partners in the departments to tell me what’s new for them.”

With challenges as diverse as using the Internet of Things to optimize processes, supporting libraries looking to bridge the digital divide to give access to computing and free Wi-Fi, updating the twenty-year-old legacy systems in the back office and providing citizen self-service, the breadth of scope in the public sector ensures that life is never dull.

View the video