Kentucky pivots tech office culture to be customer-centric

In Kentucky, the Commonwealth Office of Technology is putting a new concept into the No. 1 priority slot: relationships.

Spearheaded by Chief Information Officer Jim Fowler, the office has worked over the last year to create a customer-focused culture, most notably establishing a new role in the organization to better support communications between the different state agencies and departments with the technology office.

According to Fowler, each cabinet-level department in the states executive branch will be assigned a business relationship manager within the office of technology.

Their responsibility is to represent the technology organization to that customer, as well as to be that customers advocate into IT to make sure theyre getting a fair share of our attention, Fowler told StateScoop TV.

In addition to the hire of employees to fill the new role, Fowler said the state is looking to change the office of technologys business catalog into a service delivery catalog, instead of a technology component catalog.

Were always looking for new technologies that can help our customers, but we have to do it in the context of a business need, Fowler said. Just looking at technology trying to find a home is not going to make it for us.

With that thinking, Fowler, like other state CIOs, is looking into the implications of sensors and body cameras for state police officers.

We continue to innovate within the context of business need, Fowler said.

But Fowlers customers arent just state agencies and departments. To a degree, Fowler assumes responsibility of technology needs of constituents across the state, including those who rely on Kentucky for reliable access to broadband one of Gov. Steve Beshears main priorities.

In addition to broadband, Fowler said he would focus his conversations at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers meetings with federal IT officials on questions surrounding FirstNet a proposed nationwide network exclusively for the use of first responders.

The FirstNet story changes rather frequently, Fowler said. Wed like to get some consistency, wed like to understand what level of state participation the federal government is expecting.

Yet as the head of the states technology office, Fowler said he must always be concerned about customers needs in the areas of cybersecurity. To improve the states posture, Fowler said Kentucky is looking into developing its continuous monitoring platform, strengthening its data protection and encryption, and improving identity management statewide. With these focuses, Fowler said he hopes to be able to defend the network against unexpected intrusions like phishing.

Were investing in those three technologies to help create a culture of security and security awareness within the commonwealth, Fowler said. My biggest threat, my biggest fear, is a state employee inadvertently pushing that button on a phishing expedition that inadvertently opens the back door.