Illinois CIO Ron Guerrier focuses on fundamentals

Illinois Chief Information Officer Ron Guerrier knows the importance of innovation, but sometimes, he says, an organization needs to solidify its foundation first.

In a video interview with StateScoop, Guerrier explains that his top priority for Illinois’ information technology is to ensure the fundamentals are strong.

“My top priority is getting back to the basics,” Guerrier says. “There are a lot of foundational things we need to focus on — basically getting the architecture right, program management, something that’s top of mind. Security is everyone’s concern, including my own, but also service management — getting down to the basics of going from a transaction to a customer experience approach for our agencies and our residents.”

The Illinois CIO outlines an approach to IT leadership that he says is much needed following the previous technology leadership, which he said was perhaps overly ambitious.

“I think the hard part, especially in technology, is the engineering behind it,” he says. “OK fine, you’ve got this big goal, you’ve got everyone to accept that centralization makes more sense, but the hard part is building the rocket ship, determining the trajectory, to get to that planet. I think that’s where we as technologists need to roll up our sleeves a little bit more.”

As part of Guerrier’s strategy, he said he’s tried to empower his team, including promoting four people within his first two months as CIO.

“What I want is someone who understands the experience,” he said. “When the tech leaves the room, is the user whole? That should be the focus, not ‘Did I get the cell phone working? We’ll deal with the other devices later.’ It should be an experiential approach to things.”

Guerrier on education:

“Education is top of mind for me. The goal is to bring all those forces together and focus on keeping talent in-state as much as possible.”

Guerrier on customer relationship management:

“First is a lot of solicitation — finding out what they need. Second is looking at our processes and understanding which ones are transactional and which ones are experiential, and focusing on the experience we provide because just because we fixed one component doesn’t mean we fixed the experience.”

Guerrier on how he sees his role changing with technology:

“I wrote an article about the role of the CIO and I called it the CIIIO. The first I is information systems, the core, the utility of what we do. The second one is about ‘inspiration.’ … The third I always is for innovation. How do we find an opportunity to get us to the next level, leverage technology to do that?”

These videos were produced by StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland, in May 2019.