IBM Gives Nod to Government Innovation Offices

Innovation offices may be the next big government job for IT pros.

There are a lot of exciting opportunities opening up for those pursuing careers in information technology. Perhaps, one of the most interesting contemporary examples is that of government innovation offices, which are tasked with enabling improvements at a local, state-wide and national level.

Such offices unearth a new potential career path for IT pros, as innovation offices rely on workers with problem-solving skills that are necessary to the IT industry. Therefore, tech companies and government innovation offices could someday work hand-in-hand to catalyze change. A recent report by IBM shows potential for such a union, as the tech firm gave a general endorsement to government innovation offices overall. 

What Is A Government Innovation Office? 
Many states have introduced chief innovation officers, as well as offices to support them, in hopes of addressing a variety of community needs. According to Government Technology, this idea started taking hold in 2008 and each office - depending on municipality and state - serves a unique function. That is to say, every city and state has distinct issues to tackle that may require an innovative perspective. For example, some areas may have distinct tech needs, whereas other municipalities may need the office of innovation to delve into education, job growth or economic development. Essentially, the innovation office focuses on improving persistent problems and fostering new ideas. In many ways, this idea on a government level complements a department that already exists in many IT firms and other businesses. 

IBM Researchers' Takeaways 
The IBM Center for the Business of Government report, written by Rachel Burstein and Alissa Black, does critique some practices of innovation offices, but all and all provides an optimistic outlook regarding these departments. Moving forward, for these offices to succeed they must be well staffed and used to their full potential. 

"In many cases, these offices are doing extraordinary work and are staffed by visionary leaders.," the duo explained in the IBM report. "To thrive long term, though, government innovation offices must be structured, staffed, and resourced appropriately and thoughtfully, with careful attention to meeting critical needs and solving big challenges."

If innovation offices become more widely utilized around the country and take on a more robust staff, IT professionals will potentially have a new field in which to use their innovative skills. 

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit

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