Tuesday, September 10, 2013

COVITS 2013 - Opening Comments

COVITS is the information technology conference for state and local governments in Virginia. This year I was asked to give the opening remarks before the keynote speaker. I was pleased to be able to address the crowd, and even more pleased that the conference organizer (Jack Mortimer, eRepublic) wanted to highlight the participation of the localities in the conference. The program for the conference can be found at www.covits.org Search hastag COVITS in twitter for a running commentary on the speakers. 

Good morning and Welcome to COVITS 2013 - THE SECOND DAY!! 

My name is Barry Condrey and I am the CIO for Chesterfield County. I was very honored when Jack asked me to give the seemingly random opening remarks for this morning. 

Localities participation in COVITS has been on the increase for a few years. I think it is good to recognize the symbiotic relationship between local government and state government. Citizens need both levels of government in most cases for services to be delivered. This is really why we are here, to better equip ourselves to serve. 

I am very pleased to be here this morning. No really I am very pleased to be here. You see, it is United Way Campaign time in Chesterfield. We always have a big kickoff event to begin the 30 day pledge campaign for this very worthwhile cause. This year they decided on a novel approach to fundraising this year, they are having a dunking booth. Yep, guess who they wanted to help with that? $5 for three tries to dunk me. I told them that between myself, the director of internal audit and the director of HRM, we could raise enough money with the dunking booth, we wouldn't even need a campaign. Unfortunately the dunking starts in about an hour and I couldn't help them. So, the dunking booth had to wait because luckily Jack got to me first! 

Yesterday was a long but eventful day. We started with the Governors review of technology and the role of innovation in achieving significant cost savings and efficiencies. The Governor reviewed that Virginia has been successful in attracting business because of our can-do entrepreneurial approach to technology. And we learned that great days are still ahead for us on the technology front. 

We learned from adventurer Josh Bernstein how a survival instinct and an exploration frame of mind can be helpful in technology leadership. And, how to eat a scorpion. I’m only sorry he missed the recent cicada cycle, I hear they taste like shrimp. 

We had break out sessions on BYOD, Big Data, IT skill sets, Data Sharing, Cyber Security and others. They were all well attended and the audiences see,ed engaged.

Gov Girl had a few issues getting here, she tweeted:
Kristi Fifelski - It's taking me 3 planes to get to #covits, but it'll be worth it!

Kristi gave us a new and fresh perspective on how to communicate with citizens: Be relevant! Build that social media audience before you need it and change the way you talk to your citizens.

David Sullivan (CIO Norfolk) tweeted: 
GovSpeak + GeekSpeak = Totally Uncool. The deadly result of IT in Govt.

Julie Fuentes (VITA Comms) tweeted: 
Govt being cool = Govt being relevant

We ended the day with awards. I was fortunate to be a judge for the categories that we did not enter, and the entries were impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that these are just a sample of the projects that go on all the time in state and local government in Virginia. I think the governor was onto something when he said we have a can-do approach to technology. Another thing that struck me about the awards was how many of the winners involved collaboration between organizations. That was one of the “3”s of Josh Bernstein, when looking at survival, the need for others. 

I think Josh Bernstein would be proud of the Technology landscape in Virginia, we have clearly learned not only how to survive in a sort of a funding desert, but we have thrived. I know Chesterfield is typical of many localities. We have 600 fewer full time employees than we did in 2009, and a flat budget since 2010. But of course the needs for services to citizens is ever increasing, and still we manage to be successful. 

Throughout the day we had lots and lots of tweets going on with the COVITS hashtag. We just started doing this last year and it took off this year. Hundreds of tweets with comments, insights, summaries, jokes and other stuff from:
Koury Wilson, Macon Nation, Emily Seibert, Hap Connors, Kristy Fifelski, Pete Hatcher
Scott Burke, David Sullivan, Mike Watson, Dave Morales, AIS Network, Paul Shanks
Suzanne Lo, Kevin Curry, Tori Kirby, Governor McDonnell
So in closing … I have a favorite quote that is in every presentation I do, no matter the group. My folks out there are cringing right now, cause they see this quote all the time.
It is by John Walter, the former president of AT&T:

“When the pace of change outside an organization becomes greater than the pace of change inside the organization the end is near”…

We don’t risk going out of business, but we do risk becoming irrelevant to the citizens. Remember GovGirl? It is all about being relevant to the citizen, being mindful of the change that is going on outside your organization, and how you need to change to in response to it. 

So, the next speaker, Bill Bott,  is going to cover that topic for us. Thank you for your time, and I’ll ask Jack to come up and announce the keynote speaker.

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