By Ryan Hatcher
California has long struggled with large technology projects and those of us working in IT often hear complaints about how Silicon Valley is only two hours away but decades ahead in software engineering.
This private/public divide is not new and there have long been efforts to borrow strategies and techniques from our southern neighbors. Some have succeeded, and some haven’t, but the fact remains that many state IT programs are large, complex, and resistant to change.
However, the benefits of modernization for taxpayers, state workers, and program beneficiaries represent a holy grail that is worth striving for.
For the last couple years, a team from KAI Partners has helped a large California state agency plan for the modernization of its IT system. Considering many of the subsystems targeted for modernization are 40-years-old and run on programming languages developed in the late ‘50s, this effort represents a monumental change for this agency and state government as a whole.
Replacing massively complex systems over several years for hundreds of millions of dollars requires research, careful planning, thorough change management efforts and, most of all, a clear vision.
That vision, along with other technology and innovation-centered topics from state agencies and organizations, was recently presented to a crowd of experts and state officials at the Rev Tech X conference in Sacramento.
The theme of this year’s event, hosted by Public Sector Partners, was “Future Technologies for a Better Government.”
By describing the vision for both a modernized system and a transformed state ecosystem capable of operating it, presenters in the session, “Technology Advances, Your Legacy IT Does Not” painted a clear picture of how public-sector IT projects can be done using private industry best practices and modern development techniques such as Agile development and Digital Services.
The ideas presented in this session have long been tested and proven individually in the public and private sector. However, when combined, successfully implemented in a state environment, and aligned to a clear vision, they represent what many see as our best hope yet of narrowing the gap between software development in the Sacramento and Silicon Valleys.
Many modernization projects are still young, but are on track to someday serve as a model for similar IT efforts. Until then, one thing is certain from the Rev Tech X conference—whether you’re in the public or private sector, it’s an exciting time to work in tech.
About the Author: Ryan Hatcher is a skilled communications and management consultant with over a decade of experience campaigning for government, public affairs, and political clients. A recent addition to KAI Partners, Ryan serves as an executive consultant providing communications support to one of California’s heath care agencies. He resides in Sacramento with his wife, Nikki, and their two dogs.