Premier 100 IT Leader: Denise L. Stephens

Blazing a trail to the cloud by engaging with stakeholders

At the Idaho National Laboratory, competitive advantage means providing technology that can enhance the quality of research and garner an edge in the global energy race.

Denise Stephens

To that end, CIO Denise Stephens led the first full implementation of Google Apps for Government in the Department of Energy -- a move that profoundly changed the way researchers and partners communicate and opened the gates for cloud-based systems in the federal government. While other agencies were using different systems for different types of information, "we implemented Google Apps for Government as our sole messaging solution," Stephens says.

"She really works as an enabler," says Hortense Nelson, director of information management transformation. "She made sure that issues with the State Department, Department of Energy, indemnification -- all those types of things -- were led forward correctly and resolved." Stephens worked with other agencies and stakeholders to gain the momentum and support for the Google Apps project. "Without that, the project could not have happened," says Nelson.

The biggest challenge, Stephens says, is the cultural change required for new technology. "We've retained [the change management team] as one of the functions within our organization" as the Idaho Falls-based lab looks at more cloud solutions and their potential impact throughout the organization, she says.

Collett is a Computerworld contributing writer. You can contact her at

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