You can’t afford not to modernize IT, says Tennessee CIO

State governments everywhere are constantly upgrading their information technology systems. In Tennessee, these efforts start with getting partner agencies on board with the project, state Chief Information Officer Stephanie Dedmon tells StateScoop in a video interview.

“A number of our agencies have already embarked on some modernization initiatives,” says Dedmon, who’s been with the Tennessee state government for nearly 15 years. “What we really need to do is provide the tools and the evaluation to help our agencies understand the risks associated with not modernizing, and then how to prioritize that.”

Understanding how to prioritize the lengthy work of modernizing state IT systems that are sometimes several decades old typically requires an inventory. Creating that “enterprise look” of the state’s IT modernization backlog is an important step, Dedmon says.

“It’s really about understanding the work that needs to be done and then the strategies for evaluating the risk and how we get there,” she says.

Strong partnerships with the companies supplying the technologies are also key, Dedmon says.

“And then there’s partnering with the vendor community to help us deliver that modernization in a timely fashion to minimize risk and improve the services that we provide to our citizens,” she says.

Dedmon on her top priorities:

“One is really improving our digital government strategy. We’ve been working on a central app called myTN and really with the new administration coming in helping our commissioners and their folks understand that we really need to provide services the way our citizens want to consume them and from their perspective.”

Dedmon on cloud computing:

“We’re a pretty centralized model, which means we provide those services to the agencies and we’ve not been a cloud-first, but I heard a term the other day, which I’ll borrow, which is cloud-smart.”

Dedmon on how she sees her role changing with emerging technology:

“Really over the next few years I see not just my role but the role of my organization shifting to what we hear about — being a broker of services, instead of us providing all of those services.”

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