Kevin Burns, CIO, Director IT, City of Miami

Kevin Burns, CIO, Director IT, City of Miami

We must always ask the question, “Is technology required to solve the problem being considered?”

When the answer is yes, then we take into consideration that the landscape is constantly changing for government agencies whether local, state, or federal. With that being said, we continually strive to integrate systems in efforts to provide the most efficient and capable systems to provide customers, both internal and external, with solutions that will allow the best customer experience available. Business processes are as unique as the communities that we live in and we have the job of partnering with each business unit to understand the unique rules and regulations they are obligated to abide by. Each presents their own challenges that we are charged with turning into efficient systems.

"Business processes are as unique as the communities that we live in and we have the job of partnering with each business unit to understand the unique rules and regulations"

SaaS, COTS, Hybrid, Homegrown each has the potential to provide a solution to solve business requirements. However, we must always consider the enterprise in our decision making process. We have yet been able to single out one discipline that can be a silver bullet. We have been finding that SaaS applications and their security posture has matured greatly over the last couple of years providing more confidence in seriously considering them as viable solutions. COTS are great if they fit your business and you emphasis “Configuration not Customization.” Hybrid may still have a place in the portfolio when you can meld the best from both worlds, however, this could possibly be the least appealing of the four since there is always the likelihood that base programs will change and APIs or services will need to be modified which always poses more risk. Homegrown is probably the least appealing methodology, unless of course your vertical is extremely unique.

With the constant change, maintaining open communications makes it easier to keep the business units informed of changes and keep educating our business units. We must strive to become business partners to keep abreast of our business unit’s wants and needs. It is extremely important to gain trust and be included early in their discovery process since that is key to assisting them with getting the proper solution for the problem they are attempting to solve.

As more and more SaaS applications become available and cloud services mature, we need to explore new models of subscription services. Since we now have the capability to spin up servers in the cloud at will or on timers it only makes sense that we begin looking at our business model with a fine tooth comb. Taking into consideration the application’s priority, business need, hours of operation, external customer requirements, and other factors; can we, as consumers, consider modeling our SaaS contracts and subscriptions based on “CPU time?” Can we purchase bulk hours with a contingency block of time in the event we over use the allocation in one month or quarter based on the contract? Are subscriptions going to look similar to a cell phone contract? There are unlimited ways in ways to consider the way in which we subscribe, it is our responsibility to test the outer limits in the era of subscription.

Are we a Cost Center? Many organizations look at their IT Departments as Cost Centers but I challenge that thought process. When we engage and become true business partners, we add value, some intangible, but certainly tangible value as well. Through more efficient and effective operations, our business partners improve performance, quality, and quantity of operations which is definitely a measurable metric. Many departments provide services that incur financial transactions which, combined with the efficiencies gained, can show increased income and performance hence multiple metrics can be improved.

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