Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. is CIO for the City of Palo Alto, California. He is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, and previously the CIO at O’Reilly Media and the Director of IT Innovations at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
UnboundID: What’s it like to be the CIO of Palo Alto, right in the heart of Silicon Valley?
Reichental: When I talk about some of our successes, people ask me, is it related to being in Palo Alto? There is no question that here in the Valley we have a culture and appetite for risk taking and technology innovation. Because of that, we get a lot of support for the work we do. And as I get exposure to other communities across the country I realize that technology is not always front and center to the solution in government. Here, when we hold an event like a hack-a-thon we get great attendance, so certainly we do benefit from this community. As the CIO I have to be strong and informed so I can shine among all these smart people. I don’t think I need to be brighter than everyone, and there’s no hope of that, but it’s my job to determine how we can be technology leaders for the city.
UnboundID: What are your goals?
Reichental: When I joined the City four years ago, I wanted to bring best practices to government, such as deploying applications faster. I looked at Lean and Agile to speed things up and this has worked in some specific cases. Other goals include deploying digital city capabilities, implementing IT governance, standardizing service delivery and upgrading the technology infrastructure. I also want to carve out a visionary strategy that gets our people motivated. These are things you can do in every community. The risks we face are that IT is not going fast enough or we go too fast and no one is using what we push out. So it’s a struggle to find the sweet spot. We are close to it, and I work closely with my city manager on this.