The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and Microsoft share many of the same values, especially our mutual interest in fostering government excellence by leveraging the power of the cloud, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and other transformative technologies that enable innovation, efficiencies, cost savings and better citizen services. 2019 is a milestone year for both organizations, with NASCIO celebrating 50 years of representing state CIOs and Microsoft marking the 45th anniversary of our founding.
The impact of AI
When the precursor of NASCIO was formed in 1969, followed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen launching Microsoft in 1975, information technology was just beginning to gain momentum. Today, NASCIO and Microsoft recognize the benefits of bringing IT best practices and innovations to everyone, with a shared belief that artificial intelligence is quickly becoming the defining technology of our time, as evidenced by:
- NASCIO’s 2018 State CIO Survey revealing that 57 percent of respondents chose AI as the most impactful emerging IT in the next three to five years.
- A recent Microsoft-sponsored study by The Economist found that 94 percent of senior executives in various industries describe AI as important to solving their organizations’ strategic challenges.
Already, AI is having a tangible, useful impact on many people’s day-to-day lives, especially through the efforts of state and local government CIOs and their teams. Some examples:
- For California businesses, there’s an “always open” sign at the Secretary of State’s office, thanks to an award-winning chatbot powered by Microsoft AI. “Eureka” answers commonly asked questions about businesses and trademarks, 24/7, making it quick and easy for customers to get the information they need.
- Arizona’s Department of Economic Security, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and four more state and local governments are implementing chatbots, which rely on our Azure cloud platform, AI and Cognitive Services: Bot Framework. These innovations are supporting employees and citizens on everything from streamlining the eligibility process for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to better equipping first responders to resetting passwords to answering property or sales tax questions to delivering financial-aid information to college students and parents. Please learn more about chatbots for government at this May 16 webinar by Microsoft partner Tallan.
AI for good
In addition to creating unique opportunities for government to deliver enhanced citizen services, we believe in the power of AI to amplify human ingenuity and extend our capabilities to help solve the biggest challenges across both public and private sectors. Toward this end, Microsoft is investing $115 million over five years in our AI for Good initiative, which provides funding, technology and expertise to individuals, nonprofits and organizations to address environmental, humanitarian and accessibility challenges. We’re also investing in AI efforts with apps like Seeing AI, which is designed to help people who are blind or have low vision by describing people, objects and text around them, and projects such as FarmBeats, which is enabling farmers to increase their yields with fewer resources and less environmental impact.
Perspectives on AI
Our State & Local Government team is embracing the AI opportunity and we’re working hard to become recognized as your most trusted AI partner. Yet we also recognize the need to balance the power of AI with a responsible approach, applying ethics to address societal impacts and build trust. Microsoft provides our perspective on where AI technology is going and the new issues it’s raising in our 146-page book, “The Future Computed: Artificial Intelligence and its role in society.” Other perspectives on AI from The Economist, Gartner and more are available at this guide to the future of AI technology in government. We hope CIOs across the nation will read and share these resources with their teams to stimulate thinking about using AI to create the most positive outcomes.
Congratulations and thanks
When I was named to my current role in July 2018, one of the first meetings I held was with 15 state CIOs, who spent two days providing feedback on how to improve our support and relationships going forward. Since then, I’ve continued discussions with state and local government CIOs and hosted our Government Digital Summit. I’m exceedingly grateful to all the government leaders who have generously shared their time and invaluable input to enable Microsoft and our partners to continue building the capabilities that empower CIOs to better address challenges and meet citizen expectations. As NASCIO wraps up its 2019 Midyear Conference today, I’m honored to extend the sincere congratulations of our Microsoft State & Local Government team and U.S. government partners on 50 outstanding years of representing state CIOs. Here’s to achieving even more in the next 50!