How Are CIOs Preparing for Future Shocks? Teri Takai and Dan Chenok Discuss New Report

October 25, 2023 NASCIO Episode 106
How Are CIOs Preparing for Future Shocks? Teri Takai and Dan Chenok Discuss New Report
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How Are CIOs Preparing for Future Shocks? Teri Takai and Dan Chenok Discuss New Report
Oct 25, 2023 Episode 106

Alex and Amy talk with Teri Takai of the Center for Digital Government and Dan Chenok of the IBM Center for the Business of Government about a report that they, along with NASCIO, recently authored entitled Preparing for Future Shocks in State Government: State CIOs Play an Important and Expanding Role in Resilience. The report is intended to help frame what future disruptions may look like for state CIOs and how they can effectively tackle them. In this episode, Dan and Teri give us a brief overview of the report findings.

You can find the transcript on our podcast webpage here:

Show Notes Transcript

Alex and Amy talk with Teri Takai of the Center for Digital Government and Dan Chenok of the IBM Center for the Business of Government about a report that they, along with NASCIO, recently authored entitled Preparing for Future Shocks in State Government: State CIOs Play an Important and Expanding Role in Resilience. The report is intended to help frame what future disruptions may look like for state CIOs and how they can effectively tackle them. In this episode, Dan and Teri give us a brief overview of the report findings.

You can find the transcript on our podcast webpage here:


cios, teri, cio, workforce, dan, resilience, report, state, work, cybersecurity, challenges, wildfires, resiliency, disruptions, organization, 


Amy Glasscock, Dan Chenok, Alex Whitaker, Teri Takai


Amy Glasscock  00:05

Hi, and welcome to NASCIO voices where we talk all things state IT. I'm Amy Glasscock in Lexington, Kentucky.


Alex Whitaker  00:11

And I'm Alex Whitaker in Washington, DC. Today we're talking with Teri Takai, with the Center for Digital Government and Dan Chenok, of the IBM Center for the Business of Government about a report that they along with NASCIO recently authored entitled, Preparing for Future Shocks in State Government, State CIOs Play an Important and Expanding Role in Resilience. The report is intended to help frame what future disruptions may look like for state CIOs and how they can effectively tackle them.


Amy Glasscock  00:37

Teri and Dan, thanks for joining us today. Welcome to NASCIO Voices.


Teri Takai  00:42

I'm so excited to be here. I mean, with Dan to be able to talk about this really important topic.


Dan Chenok  00:48

Yes. Thanks so much, Amy. And, Teri, it's great to talk with you. And I know we're gonna have an engaged discussion.


Alex Whitaker  00:54

Yeah, absolutely. So welcome to both of you, Teri, can you give us a brief overview of what the report is about and why the topic is so important?


Teri Takai  01:02

For sure, I think one of the things that we have seen over the years is that resilience is a topic which has come up time over time. It's centered sometimes on physical weather type related disasters, or it has shifted to cybersecurity. But when we step back and look at it, it's really a variety of disruptions that CIOs have to face today. And the other thing that's very interesting about it when we talk with CIOs, is that the things and the actions that they have to take for each of these disruptions is actually fairly similar, with a few nuances. So we thought that it was really important to really call all that out, talk about the role of the CIO. But then finally talk about what does that mean to them as individuals, is they're really trying to face all of these daunting challenges.


Alex Whitaker  02:03

Yeah, that's, that's really fascinating. So, Dan, in the research that you all did, what did you find are the top threats and challenges that CIOs and their organizations are facing today?


Dan Chenok  02:13

So there was a really interesting diversity of perspectives across the CIOs around around the country. And there were a number of themes that kind of carried through the interviews, the first theme was around cybersecurity and fraud, of course, we've been thinking about cybersecurity on the sort of the hardware side of the equation for a long time. There's also ways that, you know, now actors can try to get in and get to funding, especially in the era of the last several years that we've been in where there's, you know, trillions of dollars in federal funds that go down to state governments for, for spending to deliver benefits in response to the pandemic and economic recovery. And these cyber threats can be from the criminal elements or nation states or, or other types of actors. But there's a common theme that they're increasing, and the magnitude of the harm is also increasing. So that was one area.  Teri talked about sort of the more traditional areas for resiliency. And this certainly came through as well around natural disasters and the effects of climate change with, you know, wildfires and droughts affecting states, especially in the Western United States, hurricanes affecting states. Well, we thought that mostly the eastern United States, but I was in Los Angeles for the hurricane a couple of months back. So it's definitely significant across the country.  And CIOs talked about the fact that during COVID, they were able to establish a much stronger hybrid infrastructure in the face of this. Another area that they call that was workforce skills, we need a workforce in, in state capitals that sort of can address 21st century challenges. And a workforce that's able to work with partners in doing so a lot of innovation can come forward from civil society, from industry partners, and being able to sort of find ways to, to enable that to occur seamlessly and smoothly consistent with procurement rules, but not being held up by artificial barriers was important.  And then finally, I'll point out sort of modernization of technology, both at the infrastructure level, what's often referred to as technical debt where legacy systems need to be modernized. And also the introduction of new technologies that can be disruptive, like artificial intelligence, especially new forms that we're all getting used to around generative AI and the ability of AI to bring forward that brings great opportunity, but it also brings great challenge in terms of understanding how best to adapt technology.


Amy Glasscock  04:34

That's great. Okay, so I know in the report, we talked about, sort of viewing resilience through different lenses or in different ways, different roles. So Teri, how do CIOs view their individual role in resilience as the top IT leader in this state?


Teri Takai  04:51

Well, actually, Amy, that's been evolving. Interestingly enough, Dan talked about some of the challenges that the CIOs are facing, but they're also facing challenges like political disruption--doesn't necessarily mean you know, one side and other side, nothing like that. But there are differences and things that are happening in the states. They're certainly facing things like terrorism, potential terrorism, and even the environmental changes. I was talking with the CIO in Vermont, and the first few days of her becoming the Interim CIO, were all around helping the governor face floods. And I live in Michigan, and who would have thought in Michigan, we would be talking about the outcome and the residual, if you will, about wildfires in Canada. So it's really, really changing very much dramatically.  So from an enterprise perspective, one of the things that's coming out, is that the CIO actually has an enterprise view. And so they're finding themselves in a role of bringing organizations together to collaborate. Now, obviously, that starts with the homeland security organization, the emergency management, organization, public safety, but it really goes beyond that into, for instance, health and human services. So I think that's an area where at one time, the CIO was sort of seen as kind of the backroom technology provider, and not necessarily as somebody who needs to be at the forefront. One of the things that I laugh about is that when I was a CIO, we used to be the back row of the Emergency Operation Center. And that's no longer true, the CIOs really have a role in this front and center.  The second piece of this, though, is that because digital has become the way to reach each other, and to reach citizens, they really have to think about how any of these impacts and how they are going to make sure that they are going to reach citizens, if in fact, there is an issue. And clearly COVID brought a huge focus on that because people didn't think that there would ever be a situation like that. And so Dan was mentioning the way that they're looking at their IT resilience, and it's actually become blended with what their IT strategy is overall, which is the thing that I think is so important. So it's no longer resiliency, as a separate conversation. It's all of the things that they're doing to modernize and to innovate, is somewhat a driver, you know, is becoming the resiliency, not only the increased services that they want to provide to citizens.


Amy Glasscock  07:47

Yeah, I know that both of you have already mentioned sort of these effects of climate change that are affecting people that, you know, you wouldn't expect to be affected by Canadian wildfires in Michigan, you wouldn't expect to be affected by a hurricane in California, but I don't really remember NASCIO members talking about this before this report, we did have green IT as a priority, you know, 10 years ago or something. But it is really interesting that this conversation is finding its way into this world of state government IT. So just an interesting point I wanted to make.  But, Dan, I know on this podcast and around NASCIO in general, we're facing a lot of challenges in the state IT workforce. How are CIOs creating a more resilient workforce in the face of these challenges?


Dan Chenok  08:37

Yeah, so the challenges that Teri mentioned with regard to the CIO, it's a team sport. So you know, the CIOs are working with their staffs immediately the staff that works on technology in the in state agencies that they're dealing with, and, and then partner organizations that they're working with, really, at all levels of government. And, you know, the CIOs need a strong team, I mentioned, sort of workforce skills that are fit for purpose for the 21st century.  And a number of themes that came forward in the research were that CIOs see themselves as looking for talent, both internally to grow talent, as well as working with community colleges, vocational technical schools, to establish talent pipelines, so that they can have sort of continual entry into the CIO workforce, CIO organization's workforce of talented individuals who can then work in structures that meet them where they are. So we have we know that a lot of the workforce today is looking to do more hybrid work, more remote work and sort of meeting the workforce, where they are, where the job allows. And obviously there are certain types of, of environments where you really need to be there but to think about how do you keep the best of what we learned about remote work during the pandemic, and enable a talented workforce to go forward.  Another sort of type of theme that came forward as cultural is around, you know, enabling innovation and entrepreneurship in the the workforce. Enabling the workforce to suggest here are ways that we can deal with these emerging risks and threats. Let's try something you know, let's celebrate some success or learn from, from something that didn't work as well as we wanted it to. How do we then share those lessons, make those lessons transparent, create an engaged workforce culture? And then once you sort of have the pipeline and the culture, how do you then develop career pathways--career advancement pathways so that people can see that, you know, whether they stay in one organization with the CIO or whether they move sort of through maybe in and out of the public and private sectors or move across different agencies and government or even different states that there's sort of a career pathway that they can see themselves in, they understand sort of the milestones to get there. And that includes pay and benefits and other types of career rewards? So a number of very interesting observations from the CIOs?


Alex Whitaker  10:53

Yeah, for sure, it sounds very similar to what a lot of we've been hearing so far, just on workforce. And NASCIO, with NGA did a great report on this earlier in the year, which I would always encourage people to look at. So really glad you all are looking at workforce as a component to. So Teri, I really appreciate that we asked CIOs about maintaining their own personal resilience in the face of what we all know, is an incredibly demanding job. And I know, you know, from personal experience, and a lot of the CIOs we've talked with this podcast have had unique stories about not only the usual challenges of the jobs, but the pandemic, the natural disasters that we've mentioned, civil unrest and even personal tragedy. So I'm wondering how are CIOs maintaining their own personal resilience in the face of not only this very tough job, but the world that we live in today,


Teri Takai  11:37

One of the things that we heard, (which is just a tremendous endorsement of all the work that all of you do at NASCIO), that came out loud and clear, is to lean on your peer group. It's hard if you feel like you're isolated, or you're the only one that's dealing with an issue, because we mentioned what you have to do to stay resilient, is very similar with different kinds of challenges. And so what we heard from many of the CIOs was that it really was important, there's 53, if you count the territories, and all of those CIOs have faced something that's very similar. Now, this is particularly true for brand new CIOs coming into the space. Because as I mentioned, you know, in Vermont, you know, Denise, faced this right off the bat. And we also heard Dickey Howze, if you could recall, in Louisiana, between cyber attacks, and then, you know, two very difficult weather events where he was very personally impacted. It was very important for him to be able to take care of the issues and deal with what the governor was asking him to do take care of his team, so that his team knew that he was there for them that he had, they had high level support, but then also for himself and his family. You know, he was in that situation. So he mentioned that. And then of course, we had Mandy Crawford, actually at the event, and she also spoke for a place as huge as Texas, you know, the need to really reach out and be part of the community. But you know, having said all of that, I think it is having all of them. To Dan's point, I think I had tried to make sure that they're just not responding to the issue of the day. But they're thinking more broadly about how do they structure and how do they look at their plans, so that it includes resilience as an underpinning for everything. Mandy Crawford made a really great statement in the session, where she said, you know, we're not talking about cybersecurity something special anymore. We're assuming that everything that we do has an underpinning of cybersecurity, and then we're building what we need for resilience from there. And she said, her new strategic plan is coming out. And she said that we would all see that when we saw her new plan.


Alex Whitaker  14:12

Yeah, that's really fascinating. And I think to further a little bit, the idea of leaning on your peers, we can all attest that often NASCIO in person events become sort of group therapy sessions for the CIOs and CISOs. So yeah, certainly a lot of leaning on each other. So finally, Dan, was there anything you found surprising or particularly interesting in the report that you'd like to highlight?


Dan Chenok  14:31

One thing? It's interesting, maybe it's less a surprise than an evolution? Several years past or even several decades past CIOs have been talking about what's our place at the table. And almost all of them now said to Teri's point earlier, they are front and center. They are part of the leadership team. And I think if you did the survey 10 or 15 years ago, you probably would have had more people saying we need to really, you know, bolster our positioning within the state. And so I think That's an interesting evolution of the of the position of CIO that we saw in the research, out of necessity, given the shocks that went forward.  And then the other interesting point, we at the IBM center for the business government have been working with NASCIO, and the National Academy of Public Administration and others on sort of a related research effort and a lot of the shocks and sort of solutions that came forward in the cyber area, climate workforce, how to deal with AI, they came across in our research as well. So I think it's a validation of leaders in governments are seeing this at the state level, they're seeing it at the federal level and even internationally. So that there's a, hopefully a network that can come together, Teri talked about the sort of network of peers, it's really I think, you know, within the states and then across into other levels of government that, that these networks can go forward in terms of enhancing and improving the effectiveness of CIOs to deliver on their mission.


Alex Whitaker  15:56

That's, that's really interesting. Thanks.


Amy Glasscock  15:58

Love that insight. Well, I want to thank you both. This has obviously been very eye opening, and it's a great report. But before we let you go, it is time for [lightening sound effect] the lightning round. In this segment, we asked you three fun questions about your life outside of work. Are you guys ready? 


Dan Chenok  16:17



Teri Takai  16:17



Amy Glasscock  16:20

So speaking of resilience, how do you maintain your own personal resilience after a hard week? Dan, let's start with you. And then we'll go to Teri.


Dan Chenok  16:28

On Saturday mornings, I take long bike rides, clear my head go through the countryside. And that's really proved very significant for me individually to kind of recoup from the week. 


Amy Glasscock  16:39

Great idea. Teri.


Teri Takai  16:41

Well, the one individual who's super important to me is my dog. I know there's other dog lovers out there. But being able to get out with the dog, get the dog moving, which also gets me moving, gives me time, as Dan said, to think about things in a different environment, and sort of make me ponder what's happened in the week.


Amy Glasscock  17:04

That's great. Always good to get outside and even better with a furry friend.


Alex Whitaker  17:09

All right, so our second question, if you were to spend an afternoon doing something fun, what would it be?


Dan Chenok  17:16

Now, I can't say walking the dog or riding my bike. Right? 


Alex Whitaker  17:19

Right, something new. 


Dan Chenok  17:20

So I actually love to travel, love to see new places and love to find interesting restaurants. So if I could sort of teleport myself, you know, to a really interesting place and find a really place with a great menu. That would be really terrific,


Amy Glasscock  17:37

great answer.


Teri Takai  17:39

Well, for me, I love to bake. I'm not very good at cooking. But baking is sort of a formulaic way of going after things. And so currently, I'm trying to learn how to bake bread, which actually isn't as easy as you might think. And does take a lot of time. So I love having the time to be able to concentrate on it, and see what I can create.


Amy Glasscock  18:05

That's great. And this is a great time of year to be baking to hope to do more of that myself. All right. Last question. And this just came into my mind, I'm not sure what made me think of it. Maybe it was our session at Midyear on technology from 2001 and other things about 2001. But what's one piece of outdated technology that you want thought was super cool, Dan?


Dan Chenok  18:28

I guess the you know, the desktop. I remember when I remember the you know, getting an early Microsoft. But it may have been an IBM the first one I got in the early 80s. I think it was IBM. And and it seemed like the you know that this was the future of everything. And now of course we have multiple exchangeable devices that are trading information over the cloud. But when I first got that first PC, and I could stop writing papers in longhand, and retyping them on a typewriter, it seemed like I had reached nirvana.


Amy Glasscock  19:01

It makes sense. What about you, Teri?


Teri Takai  19:04

Well, I have to say, I love my Blackberry. I know everyone thinks that that's really outdated at this point. But having the tactile feel of the keyboard was something that I still haven't gotten over on my iPhone. So I found that I was much more efficient and absolutely love that device.


Alex Whitaker  19:29

I want to put in a plug for the BlackBerry movie there. It addresses that. And I keep trying to get Doug Robinson to watch it. So


Amy Glasscock  19:36

Oh, yeah. Who knows? Maybe it'll make a comeback one of these days. That snake game everybody loved. All right. Well, that was very fun. And of course, we'll put a link to the report in our show notes. Dan, and Teri, thank you so much for your time today.


Teri Takai  19:51

Well, thank you, Amy. And we really appreciate it. It's really a great topic and we really like to get the topic out there for everyone to think about. So Dan, thanks so much for being a fantastic partner with us on this. And I think it's a really important topic for the CIOs going forward.


Dan Chenok  20:09

Well, thank you, Teri. It was a terrific collaboration. And thanks to all of you for a great discussion.


Amy Glasscock  20:14

Absolutely. Thanks, guys. Great report. We loved working with you guys on it. And I encourage everyone to take a look at it. Thanks, guys. Bye.


Alex Whitaker  20:23

Thanks again for listening to NASCIO Voices. NASCIO Voices is a production of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers or NASCIO.


Amy Glasscock  20:31

if you liked this episode, please consider sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Alex Whitaker  20:35

We'll be back soon with more great state IT content.  


Amy Glasscock  20:38