The NASCIO Top Ten for 2024 with Eric Sweden

December 13, 2023 NASCIO Episode 109
The NASCIO Top Ten for 2024 with Eric Sweden
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The NASCIO Top Ten for 2024 with Eric Sweden
Dec 13, 2023 Episode 109

It's that time of year again! Alex and Amy talk with NASCIO's Program Director for Enterprise Architecture and Governance, Eric Sweden about the NASCIO Top Ten lists for 2024. These lists are what state CIOs are most focused on for the year ahead. Find out the big surprises for the year (like a tie for first place!) and what's on the list for the first time ever. 

Find the list here once it's released:

Find transcript to episode here:

Show Notes Transcript

It's that time of year again! Alex and Amy talk with NASCIO's Program Director for Enterprise Architecture and Governance, Eric Sweden about the NASCIO Top Ten lists for 2024. These lists are what state CIOs are most focused on for the year ahead. Find out the big surprises for the year (like a tie for first place!) and what's on the list for the first time ever. 

Find the list here once it's released:

Find transcript to episode here:

Episode 109 Top Ten

Tue, Dec 12, 2023 4:01PM • 26:11


state, year, priority, cybersecurity, amy, generative, cio, ai, alex, eric, list, interesting, report, tune, cios, great, nylon string guitar, government, podcast, digital


Amy Glasscock, Eric Sweden, Alex Whitaker


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. This is our last episode of the year. And as is our tradition, we welcome back our friend and colleague, Eric Sweden, Program Director for enterprise architecture and governance at NASCIO.


Amy Glasscock  00:23

 It's the most wonderful time of the year because it's time for the NASCIO state CIO top 10 priorities and technologies lists for 2024. And Eric is here to tell us all about it, including some surprises. Eric, welcome back to NASCIO Voices. And thanks so much for joining us again.


Eric Sweden  00:39

Thank you. It's great to be here, Amy and Alex.


Amy Glasscock  00:42

Yes. Okay. Well, this is the fifth year in a row that we've had you on the podcast to talk about the NASCIO top 10, which means we just hit our four year anniversary of the podcast since you were one of our very first guests, but for our newer listeners remind us what the NASCIO top 10 lists are and why we do them. Okay,


Eric Sweden  01:02

very good. And Amy and Alex, just so glad we do these podcasts, four years, and this has been a great success. So the top 10 is an innovation started by Doug Robinson back in 2006. As a way to gauge what the state CIOs consider their highest priority challenges for the coming year. So we always look ahead. And this document we publish is also viewed as a critical message to the marketplace, the media, our strategic partners. The state CIO top 10 has historically been the singular most important message we could send to anyone regarding state government. Now that information presented on this list, it provides line of sight direction support justification for anything we work on. So we're using it to inform the work plan our members, so everyone's pulling in the same direction. And in 2008, Doug added the technology top 10 to the ballot for the same reasons. The first year of the technology priority list was the following year 2009. And we've been a steward of this process, Amy, for, gee, it's now 18 years. And it's interesting to see some of the trends over time. So the top 10 is possibly the most viewed and downloaded publication we have. And the designs have changed over the years. Emily Lane and Julie Pelstring put a lot of thought into how we'll present each year. So there's a little background.


Alex Whitaker  02:36

Awesome. Well, that's so great to hear. But the big headline of the year is that while cybersecurity and risk management is number one again, it shares that spot with another priority. Can you tell us what it is and why you think that priority flew up to the top this year? 


Eric Sweden  02:50

Yes. And this is the first time Alex, we ever had a tie for the number one spot so cybersecurity is certainly, you know, expected to be number one this year digital government is tying with cybersecurity. Now, why is that? Well, we know why cybersecurity is there. It will probably be number one into the future. It's an issue. It's a capability. You know, it involves incredible risks that affect everything we do and all of us. Interestingly, cybersecurity had its lowest position as number seven and 2011. But it's always been on the top 10. And as we stayed at cybersecurity, it's implicit in all we do. It's been in the number one spots starting in 2014 and been on the top 10 since its inception, you may recall we called 2014  "the year cyber dangers doubled." And it hasn't let up if if you look at our 2023 annual CIO report, continuing concern of government what is your top cybersecurity risk? You know, ransomware agency shadow IT, human error. So, you know the issues continue to come at us from our 2022 Deloitte NASCIO cybersecurity study. Cyber threats include malware, phishing, foreign state sponsored espionage. It's a big long list there. But new issues arrive Alex as you know, you lead the cybersecurity team. New issues arrive old issues continue to sustain. We still have the cybersecurity skills crunch. Now we have generative AI adopted on both sides of the battle. we now have next level phishing attacks. So the importance of cybersecurity has been presented in the press as so important. It's now in the boardroom. So in the private sector, you know, that's a conversation that's ongoing in the boardrooms, our state CISOs are conversing more with governors and legislators And it's interesting Gartner predicted by 2026 70% of boards private sector, of course, will include at least one member with expertise in this field flour.   Well, I'm sure cybersecurity is not going to go anywhere, but interesting to know that it at least has a partner this year. But you know, the other exciting news from the report is that artificial intelligence made it onto the list of the first time ever, and you've Of course, just mentioned AI a few times, but it's not a surprise after the year we've had, but what are your thoughts about that? And tell us what number it is on the list? Well, this is interesting, because first time on the list, and then it's at number three. So that's pretty significant. Wow. But I think all the press about this particular topic, and capability, you know, any of these things we talked about, you know, their issues, their topics, their capabilities, their challenges, but this particular topic is getting a lot of attention. And you can hardly get away from it, you do a search of terms using generative AI. And you'll come to a list that seems to never end your report on AI roadmap, Amy. And now the upcoming policy priority, I think are reflective of how important this issue is. But it does arrive for the first time and at position three. If you look at our 2023 annual state CIO survey 53% of our state CIOs that responded to this question selected AI in response to the question, which emerging IT area will be most impactful in the next three to five years. So when you look at that graph, it's it's obvious on the Gartner Hype Cycle, this is interesting, generative AI is sort of at the covering of the position of peak of inflated expectations. I think that's probably pretty accurate. You know, we're, we got a lot of attention. But as some of our CIOs talk about this particular priority, we want to manage generative AI responsibly. And one of my concerns about this particular priority are the algorithms and how do we manage those going forward? 


Amy Glasscock  08:13

Yeah, all good points I, I have seen this year because of generative AI coming onto the scene. It's really elevated AI in general, as an issue area. And so maybe for some states that didn't have policies around AI or AI roadmaps and things like that. It's really encouraged teams to put something together on AI in general, given that generative AI has been so loud and noisy in 2023. So


Eric Sweden  08:39

Your roadmap will be very important for all the states and territories, Amy. 


Amy Glasscock  08:43

Yes, and that should be out by the time this podcast is out as well. So we'll have to talk about that on another podcast, I guess. So. Eric, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what else has changed this year on the list that's noteworthy.


Eric Sweden  08:57

One of the interesting things is sort of the background or the context of how these priorities are arrived at this year within our context for 2023. We have 22 new state CIOs. So there's been a significant change in the makeup of our state CIO cohort. So different people are coming on the scene and answering, you know, what are your priorities so it's it's not a longitudinal thing where we can see where a consistent cohort has possibly changed their mind.  You know, we've got an ongoing dynamic here that we're always dealing with, but some of the other priorities legacy modernization, you know, obviously, that's a part of digital transformation that retains priority number four, it was number five and 2016 2017. Came back in 2022. At number five, then four for 23 and 24. So our NASCIO VMware report on application modernization and our report on creating a citizen centric digital experience, they address what's going on there in more detail.  Workforce is at number five, down from number three in 2023. Workforce moved up from position nine to seven, jumping to positions from 2021 to 2022, then three positions from seven to three, for 2023. So this is a necessary capability to address for CIOs broker as well as everything else on this list. New skills are required, obviously, for some of these new initiatives. Plus, we have a lot of folks with legacy skills able to retire from state government. So this reflects how critical our challenges are regarding guarding, recruiting, retaining qualified associates and state government.  We mentioned the issue with cybersecurity earlier, data management and analytics is that number six. This item is a bit different from 2023, which presents data and information management at number eight, possibly our current cohort of state CIOs emphasize the affinity between data and analytics, which work hand in hand to create insights and influence decision making. We did a webcast on data literacy, which was co sponsored by the state CDO network, and NASCIO. It is possibly part of the reason there's an escalation in this, you know, we brought the issue forward to our state CIOs, and possibly, you know, that had an influence, but also with generative AI, which absolutely depends on data and the quality of the data. I think that probably is an influencer.  Broadband is an interesting one, Amy, I move up from number nine and 2023 to number seven for 2024, possibly reflecting the dependency on access to digital services, citizen experience transformation efforts. That particular item broadband has been as low as 10, and has been as high as number three.  So similar importance for digital identity access management, critical enablers for digital services, that is an experience, identity management is specifically included in the Digital Government Digital Services priority, we can't deliver digital services without it.  And then Cloud Services moved from number nine from number six. So that's gone down in priority on this list. But consider that not everything can be priority number one. More importantly, cloud services remains on the top 10 list. It's been on the list for quite some time, it was at number three and 2013. Of course, now it's dropped down to number nine, but it's still a priority. It's tied to CIO as broker, tied to security, tied to digital government. Cloud Services was in the top three, for 2013 through 2021. It was on the top 10. It's been on the top 10 since 2011. So states must become more and more sophisticated in managing their cloud portfolios, cost optimization and bringing together finance engineering and executives to make use of some of the discounts and reservation instances that they contracted for. See our NASCIO/Accenture report on cloud computing and our NASCIO VM report on legacy monetization. And you'll see additional information on this.  But here's an interesting question. So "CIO as Broker" arrives for the first time, and we've published a lot on this. Our new and better term for this is "the new state CIO operating model." From our 2023 annual state CIO survey, we ask how customer agencies will be served in the next three years 84% of our responding CIOs said "CIO as broker" will be an important runway for them. So there's a little little bit of an overview, Amy.


Amy Glasscock  14:04

That's great. It's interesting with cloud, you know, it's definitely it's not considered any sort of emerging technology anymore. But obviously, it's kind of the backbone of how we work these days, especially with more remote work and things like that. So still really important. And like you said it, it is involved in so many other priorities. Very interesting. So I'm curious if there's anything that's just sort of like held steady, stayed around the same place, the priorities haven't really shifted on it interested in your thoughts there.


Eric Sweden  14:36

There's things that have sustained, Amy, a presence on the top 10 for the last five years. These these are some of them, cybersecurity, digital government, broadband, workforce, data management, you know, cloud services from 2013 through 2021 was in the top three. So you know, those are the things that are sustaining. Now this is also interesting Amy, some things that dropped off: Customer Relationship Management is not on the list. It was number 10 and 2023 consolidation on an optimization, which has been on the list for, you know, going back to 2007. It was on the list and it was going up and down a little bit. But in many years, it was in the top three, it was number one way back. 2013 2012 2011. Number one, you know, and I think that's an interesting one for you and me. And Dennis Goulet, given our report on business relationship management, I think, you know, we had recognized the importance of business relationship management, which encompasses customer relationship management. So, you know, again, these things don't go away. It's just we only have 10 priorities. So, you know, their priorities, but you know, we have to select which one, they're going to make the list for the coming year. And ya, know, these two didn't make it.


Amy Glasscock  16:01



Alex Whitaker  16:03

So let's talk about the technology top 10 list, what did you see this year that caught your eye?


Eric Sweden  16:08

Well, Alex, some things that are sustaining a fairly high position are identity management, Legacy modernization, as Amy stated earlier, you know, connected to cloud cloud services, security enhancement tools, and we discussed that in detail. You know how important that is. Artificial Intelligence, robotic process automation is at number three, that's been on the list number six, and 2023. Number five, in 2022. Number four, in 2021. Number seven, the first year it arrived, it was at number seven for 2020. So I think it has to sustain a position going forward. We're not going to see it go away. Now increasingly, watch out for this one, Alex, we always ask it just doesn't make it yet. But I think someday we're going to see the arrival of quantum computing. Let's see if I'm right about that. Okay.


Alex Whitaker  17:01

Well, we will revisit it, I'm sure you probably will be you're usually not wrong on these things. Kind of speaking of, you've been lead on that NASCIO top 10 list for several years. Is there one thing that's kind of been constant since you started maintaining this list? 


Eric Sweden  17:14

I'd have to say security, Alex, it's historically been on the list and moved up fairly rapidly early on, it remains so significant. It's held the number one rank since 2014. We talked about cloud services, you know, that's, that is sustaining digital government consolidation optimization, those things are pretty steady. But you know, with consolidation optimization, historically, high priority, didn't make the list this year, Alex. So I found that surprising.


Alex Whitaker  17:48

Yeah. All right, Eric. Thanks so much. We've had a great chat with you. But before we let you go, we are going to have to do the lightning round. Are you ready?


Eric Sweden  18:00

I'm ready.


Amy Glasscock  18:02

All right, Eric, you our longest tenured staff member at NASCIO with over over 20 years. You tell us how many what keeps you at NASCIO after all these years.


Eric Sweden  18:11

So I'm in my 21st year now, Amy. I think there's a lot of things that keep me here. First, our mission, our team NASCIO, AMR management services, these are the best organizations I've ever been associated with. I've never seen anything to compete with it. I think more than anything else is a sense of, you know, what we're doing in terms of mission, serving our state CIOs, our state's our citizens. Essentially, I believe we are serving our country. And that's exactly what John Ruffin stated when I first interviewed for this job. So I think another rather uncommon thing that you find here, very difficult to find elsewhere is a sense of community, collegial effort, we all look out for each other. There's no pathological politics, credit seeking ladder climate, we don't have any of those path ologies we have a unique team with a collaborative spirit that I have not encountered anywhere. So this NASCIO team is probably the most significant thing for me, but why does this exist? I don't know how this got created. But I hope it never goes away. I'm doing my best to contribute toward that every day, every meeting, every publication, every webcast. And then we always have challenging things to work on Amy. We're always anticipating what's over the horizon. So there it's a continual adventure. 


Amy Glasscock  18:14



Alex Whitaker  18:41

Well, geez, you're motivating me 


Amy Glasscock  19:46

I know never leave Alex! 


Alex Whitaker  19:51

All right, Eric. Well, what are you going to be doing on New Year's Eve?


Eric Sweden  19:54

Well, I think we normally with holidays anymore, which kind of like less is more so we don't Have any real big plans, we'll be spending time together as a family, probably playing some music, enjoy peaceful walk on our trails, we might travel a bit. That's probably what if that happens it we won't be traveling very far. So very peaceful time together. And that's what we enjoy. 


Alex Whitaker  20:24

It sounds great.


Amy Glasscock  20:25

It sounds nice. Yeah, the older we get the less exciting new year's eve sounds. So we've had a annual practice of getting together with a group of friends and usually our kids too. So it's a trip away somewhere that's very relaxed. It's nice. All right, Eric. Well, you know, we have this tradition of when you come on at the end of the year, we've found a way for you to play a little music for us. If people don't know you're an amazing guitarist. So do you have any music to play for us this year?


Eric Sweden  20:56

Well, this time around, Amy, one or two staff said once you play that tune we did for the executive committee one year so this is a tune that goes way back and back in my undergrad days. When I heard this tune, I was thinking it might lend itself well to nylon string guitar, particularly with some kind of counter melody and I tried various countermelodies with this, but this tune it's it's titled Aura Lee and you may not notice that because it's had many titles. It was also it's a tune from the American Civil War. It was written by George Poulton that that's who wrote the melody but it was also used in the movie Love Me Tender Elvis Presley and Vera Matson changed the words to Love me tender, but it was also a class tune for the, it's called Army Blue for the US Military Academy, graduating class song. Army Blue. Anyway, it's had many, many different iterations. Anyway, I put together a little arrangement here for you on the nylon string guitar. So here it is. (Plays guitar)


Amy Glasscock  25:20

That was awesome. Great. Yeah, I think most of us would would think of Elvis when we hear that tune. So really great little history lesson there. Appreciate that. 


Alex Whitaker  25:30

Yeah. Thanks, man. All right. Well, Eric, thanks again for giving us your insight on the top 10 lists. I think we have a lot to look forward to in the policy arena for 2024. 


Eric Sweden  25:39

Glad to be here, Alex, Amy. Just enjoy doing these radio shows with you all the time. Thank you so much for having me. 


Amy Glasscock  25:45

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


Alex Whitaker  25:53

We'll put a link to the top 10 list in the show notes and you can also find it at in our resource center.


Amy Glasscock  25:59

We'll be back after the New Year with lots more great content. Thanks so much for listening to the podcast this year. And happy holidays.