In a little under 2 weeks state government IT leaders will be convening in Austin, Texas for this year’s NASCIO conference.  The conference, often cited as an annual highlight for state CIOs, is an opportunity not just to attend sessions and walk the show floor, but to really connect with peers and discuss the challenges they face.

“The NASCIO annual conference is a unique opportunity for state CIOs to get together and strategize,” said Kyle Pribilski, Chief Strategy Executive at NetApp.  “It’s not often that these executives get to be in an environment where they can share their challenges with peers and be able to learn from how they’ve addressed similar situations,” he continued.

In an period where state CIOs are being asked to do more with less the ability to share with peers to identify challenges and craft solutions is more important than ever.  One of the most challenging areas for CIOs that Pribilski noted in particular is how states are handling data management challenges.  “The era of big data presents so many opportunities, but these exciting data-driven citizen initiatives come at a price and there are often hidden costs” said Pribilski. He continued, “There’s a way to approach data management to eliminate many of these challenges and avoid costly mistakes.”

Managing data and managing costs is often touted as being as simple as throwing everything in the cloud.  While the cloud is certainly an essential part of a data management best practice, Pribilski explained that in order to take full advantage of cloud-based services and solutions, there needs to be a fundamental change in data management strategy. “Without this shift in strategic vision you’ve just bought yourself off-site storage; but with a change in strategic vision, you’ve created a plan for the next five years to be able to put your data to work, be able to deliver data-driven citizen services, and adapt to emerging solutions powered by AI.”

Pribilski readily admits that even that statement makes the task of data management faced by state CIOs seem easier than it is.  “There are so many elements that go in to creating a workable data management strategy from being able to hire data scientists to integrating disparate data sources, and securing the data – both at rest and in motion – to exploring next-generation data backup strategies like the creation of data lakes, it’s not possible to go it alone,” he said.

With NASCIO 2017 just around the corner, it’s clear that no state CIO will need to go it alone as they plan their journey to the cloud and beyond.  And it seems that the conversations between the conference attendees and the connections that are made will fuel data-driven change across the country.