An annual survey found that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has influenced decisions made by state chief information officers (CIOs) in 2020 in all areas addressed by the survey. The 2020 State CIO Survey (the Survey) released by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, Grant Thornton Public Sector LLC and CompTIA (Sponsoring Organizations) was conducted several weeks after the start of COVID-19 and includes the responses from 47 state and territory CIOs.
Some key trends and findings from the Survey, which covered a range of topics, include:
Emerging Technologies. The Survey found that CIOs have sped up the implementation of automated technologies and artificial intelligence in response to COVID-19. The Survey stated that 77% of respondents are interested in deploying automation software to improve citizen services with faster and more accurate response times, and in fact, 76% of respondents introduced chatbots (virtual agents) to respond to inquiries during COVID-19. According to the Survey, the switch from in-person to online transactions due to COVID-19 drove the business need for chatbots. Respondents to the Survey are also looking to increase efficiency within state agencies, with 74% interested in using automation to improve timing and quality of services for internal processes. Further, 61% of respondents reported that they believe that artificial intelligence (which includes machine learning, RPA, and chatbots) will be the most impactful emerging technology in the next three to five years.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. The Survey shows that while most CIOs had developed disaster recovery and business continuity (DR/BC) plans prior to COVID-19, many CIOs wished they had reviewed and updated the DR/BC plans more regularly. According to the Survey, one CIO stated that “while there have been disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans in place for years, I decided to test them about six months ago and we discovered they were old and not realistic.” Further, only 32% of Survey respondents had a “pandemic annex” to their DR/BC plans prior to COVID-19. The Sponsoring Organizations expect this percentage to increase in the future as DR/BC has become front and center during COVID-19.
Cloud. 41% of CIOs responding to the Survey reported that they have a “cloud first” strategy for new applications. According the Survey, email and collaboration services are the top priority to move to the cloud, followed by disaster recovery and office productivity software. COVID-19 is likely to impact cloud strategies, with one CIO quoted in the Survey “[w]e have been able to significantly speed up our cloud migration activity due to the pandemic. I want to move everything possible to the cloud as fast as possible. We have already told landlords we are not renewing leases at our data center.”