Mississippi tallies first modernization win while juggling demands of cybersecurity

Mississippi IT is growing, the state enterprise architect reports, but new challenges and opportunities always come second to cybersecurity.

Cyber is always going to be at the top, said Billy Rials, Mississippis state enterprise architect.

As the state surveys its future, Rials explained during the National Association of State Technology Directors2016 annual conference, new challenges surrounding a millennial workforce, never-ending system modernization and adoption of new technologies wont be outmatched by the priority placed on cybersecurity.

An important component of Mississippis cybersecurity posture in the future will be improving user awareness of how to keep their devices andstatenetworks safe, Rials explained. Even though everyone should know about these things by now, he said they dont. So the state will continue its cybersecurity education campaign.

Beyond cyber, Rials said, Mississippis top priorities for the near future also include planning the state IT department’senterprise strategy and working to speed updisaster recovery initiatives.

[Its] enterprise architecture, common tools, working toward a centralized governance for managing their federated government organization, Rials said. [Were] aligning organizational goals with tech.

The previous standard of a 72-hour turnaround on disaster recovery isnt good enough any more, Rials said, and Mississippi’s new goal is to reduce that time to minutesinstead.

After a few false starts, the state now has a grasp on system modernization and theyre on the upswing, Rials said. The Department of Revenues recent modernization of its tax collection system was the states first successful modernization, he said. The Department of Human Services is also updating its platforms and abandoning legacy mainframe systems, allowing connectivity with modern public-facing systems that enable new avenues of citizen engagement.

And as with most state IT offices, Mississippis Department of Information Technology Services has it has its eye ona long list of technologies new and old. Cloud-based systems, Internet of Things implementations, and new partnerships with vendors and higher learning institutions are all on the states radar, he said. But the biggest challenge of being a state IT office, he said,is that theyre a state IT office.

In any kind of government theres challenges of the speed of government balancing with the speed of IT, Rials said. The speed of IT is changing very, very rapidly. Its a landscape out there and our citizens are expecting new, innovative services, faster delivery of those services and more ways to integrate those with their cell phones, houses and tablets. They want government not to be the traditional four walls it used to be.

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