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Lori Sorenson, CTO of Illinois

What lesson will you take with you from the pandemic?

For us, the pandemic validated some of our strategic priorities we outlined several years ago: data analytics, enterprise architecture and information security. Data analytics, every person out there became mesmerized by the daily data — the testing, and now the vaccinations. “Bend the curve” became a common phrase everyone was talking about. It’s the power of data to tell a story and make informed decisions. That’s something that pre-pandemic was a priority, and this gave a real business case that everyone can understand. For security, shifting workforce to home. We always carry a big bag of legacy technology that we should be retiring. The pandemic showed how difficult it was to respond to those historic spikes in utilization of those systems.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during the pandemic?

It was maintaining that good communication upward and outward. All of this was happening very fast. I think we managed it well, but the challenge was making sure we were getting accurate information on what was approved, what was not approved, who was making decisions, making sure we received that information and disseminated it out. You could struggle for days getting everyone on the same page.

What’s an underappreciated IT practice or technology that helped you during the pandemic?

It’s the architecture. Why does enterprise architecture matter? When you are having to pivot so fast, so quick, and everyone does it different. I just think about rolling out Citirix. We have 36 agencies that are in certain stages of transformation that were managing their own desktops. That creates delays in rolling out new capabilities.

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