Gerald Caron, CIO for the U.S. Government’s International Trade Administration, on delivering a strategic vision for technology that serves its business units and all stakeholders

“We’re introducing different ways of thinking to drive innovation with technology at the International Trade Administration (ITA). What is the art of the possible for IT?” asks its CIO Gerald Caron. “I am looking to explore possibilities for technology with my team across our business units and build simple foundations for the development of more complex approaches.”

IT Transformation Program

ITA’s technology roadmap sets a focus on being less reactive and playing to the organisation’s strengths. Indeed, it’s important to be small enough and agile enough to make new moves with IT.

“We’re leveraging cloud, which is great,” adds Caron. “It gives us a lot of flexibility not being anchored to on-prem reliance. So, when the pandemic hit, ITA was well set to work remotely – it’s been a big plus. Going forward, we’re looking at the ways AI can support our teams. We want to use technology to make the organisation’s work easier. We’re keen to use our people in more important ways. We need to get value from their work beyond mundane tasks and allow them to concentrate on more important things. Leveraging AI with our vendor partners can help us explore the future of work at ITA. We’re going to explore the technologies available, judge the successes, and examine the potential business use cases. We will do work with proof of concepts to move forward.”

The technology transformation of business units

ITA has three distinct business units – Global Markets, Industry & Analysis and Enforcement & Compliance – all of which are the focus of the digital transformation efforts of Caron’s team.

“We’re looking at the needs of each business unit, taking some of the legacy applications and modernising them. Further to this, we’re filling gaps where they need new technologies and taking a lean agile approach. What’s really key, is that the business unit owns each project. They have a dedicated team member that oversees all aspects of a project. We call them epic owners from cradle to grave. They work with stakeholders, make sure the requirements are clear, and that IT does the work.

“Each business unit initiates the projects they require so IT can solution them. Then we’re avoiding the back and forth between departments. Furthermore, we want to make sure the business units are invested in their own digital transformation. It takes dedication. We’re supporting them in maturing that approach to technology to make sure their requirements are met.”

Caron is proud of the way new relationships are developing across the organisation. “We’re meeting with our peers on a monthly basis. Then we get a full circle of communication between the business units. IT is the enabler. We want to make sure we’re supporting them any way we can and that they know we’re here for them.”

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