The CIO 100 judging panel felt unanimously that the CIO for the Welsh Government and James Thomas at place number 8 demonstrated the transformative zeal, vision and understanding of the real role IT plays in the public sector to shoot into the top 10 and push their Whitehall CIO compatriots out of the leading group.
Dr Gwyn Thomas is CIO for the Welsh Government and Director of Informatics Health and Social Care. "The role I occupy is unique as I am effectively CIO for Wales, which embraces the whole of the public sector," he says. Today's Wales is very different. Financial services, IT, tourism, and action sports are on the ascendancy, while mining and manufacturing are still vital to the economy.
"We are taking a federated IT approach of councils, health boards and academia. They have all agreed to work together because it is about IT, and IT touches all organisations and citizens."
Thomas's complex stakeholder map also includes local authority chief executives and politicians.
He reports to the Permanent Secretary — the Assembly's senior civil servant — and the directors general for health, for social care and children, and for business, economy, technology and science, as well as through to the respective ministers.
But the advantage for him is that the Welsh government has a unified and efficient approach to IT that is not blighted by the problems and overspending seen elsewhere in the public sector. Thomas's role is to deliver a digital Wales that can respond to the nation's changing economic landscape and increasing sense of independence. Thomas says he and his team look at Wales as a corporate entity.
"We are trying to explore new ways of working with organisations,” Thomas says.
“He was one of the few people to speak out against Richard Granger’s centralised NHS plans and he has been proven right,” says Jerry Fishenden before adding that they public service network that Thomas is already rolling out in Wales is ahead of similar plans in England.
“He’s smart on influencing and guiding different stake holder groups,” observed Neil Ward-Dutton of Thomas’ agenda to not have a top down strategy which really impressed the business process management expert.
“His ability to conceptionalise what he wants to do and achieve are very strong. He’s also building some hard experience of what will happen in England with the public sector networks,” says Richard Sykes.
Mike Altendorf adds, “He’s strong on politics, collaboration and the way to get people together. What really impressed me is that he used personification to assess his plans. He’s got credentials form the NHS work he’s done.
He’s right up there in the vision of what a CIO should be, but he’s marked down by me as he doesn’t have operational strength in this role.”
Overall his strength and vision as a CIO and for what public sector technology can achieve pushed Thomas firmly into the top 10.
Read the CIO interview: