Every year the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) releases its State CIO Top 10 Priorities. While the recently released 2018 list has a few predictable entries, it comes with a few surprises, too.

The top three entries–security and risk management, cloud services, and consolidation/optimization–are unsurprising, having topped the list for the last four years. In years past, there was frequently a significant gap in the votes for the number one and two spots. This year, NASCIO said that security and risk management and cloud services were neck and neck for the top spot. Budget, cost control, fiscal management; broadband/wireless connectivity; data management and analytics; enterprise IT governance; and agile and incremental software development are making repeat appearances.

“Data management and analytics, cloud solutions and certainly security are demanding our attention,” said Bo Reese, NASCIO president and CIO for the state of Oklahoma. “Unification of services will drive the need to improve data management discipline, enterprise governance, and optimization.”

In an interview with MeriTalk State & Local, Kirk Lonbom, Illinois’ CIO, said he would not change a thing on NASCIO’s Top 10 List.

“NASCIO does an incredible job of really getting out and touching all the CIOs across the states,” Lonbom said.

Industry experts agree that NASCIO got their priorities right for 2018.

“NASCIO’s list of CIO Top 10 Priorities for 2018 is very comprehensive and spot on, especially in terms of requirements around security, cloud, consolidation, digital government, and data management and analytics,” Nick Psaki, principal, Office of the CTO, Pure Storage told MeriTalk State & Local.

Shared services, which came in sixth, reappeared three years after dropping off the Top 10 list. Its reappearance is pointing towards what NASCIO called, “a definite growing trend toward consolidating and unifying services across the enterprise.”

“Shared services is a major priority for us in Illinois,” Lonbom said. “The focus on unification of IT resources continues to grow across the states. Many states have already undergone some consolidation efforts, which essentially turn into shared services. I think it rose in importance because more states are becoming involved in IT unification and consolidation, and recognizing the value. Additionally, states that are further behind on their consolidation journey want to learn how other states are succeeding.”

Making its very first appearance is digital government, coming in fourth. As part of the push around digital government, CIOs want to focus on establishing a framework for digital services to help improve the citizen experience. In 2018, CIOs want to pilot and deploy online portals, artificial intelligence, digital assistants, chatbots, and crowdsourcing capabilities. In the end, government leaders hope to improve security issues, as well as improve cross-agency collaboration and reduce service costs for the government and citizen.

“Underscoring each of NASCIO’s priorities is the need for a next-generation data platform to support transformation and the application of IT innovation, such as artificial intelligence, in state and local government,” said Psaki. “To realize transformation, we cannot design the systems that state governments want and need today on the technology foundation of the last century.”

NASCIO uses these rankings to help shape its strategic focus for the coming year. The rankings also let state CIOs see what their colleagues are focusing on and give the CIOs something to share with their team and state leaders.

“I responded to the NASCIO survey as the state CIO, and then we immediately followed up and sent the exact same survey to our agency CIOs and other leadership within our organization,” Lonbom said. “We think the survey was so good that we used it to gain insight on a tactical level across our organization.”

As part of the Top 10 Priorities list, NASCIO also releases the Top 10 Technologies, Applications, and Tools list, which highlights what technologies CIOs are interested in implementing. Unsurprisingly, the top 10 technologies closely align with the top priorities. CIOs have focused in on cloud solutions, legacy application modernization, identity and access management, as well as data management tools, among others.

So on the verge of Valentine’s day, CIOs plan to cuddle up to old priorities and date digital government. If love is in the air, why shouldn’t it be a digital experience?

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs