Interview with Iffat Tariq from United States

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Iffat Tariq

Iffat Tariq, the Chief Digital Officer at I&I Software Inc., brings over two decades of experience in leading digital initiatives across EMEA, Canada, and the US. Specializing in Smart Cities and the Public Sector, Tariq aids state and local governments in utilizing data-driven approaches, focusing on advancing these sectors through digitization.

Interview With The 2023 TITAN Women in Business Awards Winner – Iffat Tariq

1Please provide us with a brief bio of yourself.

With over two decades of experience, I am Iffat Tariq, the Chief Digital Officer at I&I Software Inc. I have pioneered various digital initiatives across EMEA, Canada, and the US. My focus is on Smart Cities and the Public Sector, where I assist state and local governments at the forefront of using data and evidence. I am committed to providing a clear path to excellence through the digitization of these sectors.

I have worked on various initiatives related to urban operations, delivering complex technology solutions. With my extensive experience in developing modern data platforms for state and local governments, I have become a trusted advisor in the government data industry. My expertise in bringing people, process, and technology together with an underlying foundation of data has transformed cities to move beyond pockets of excellence to citywide scale, sustainability, and resident impact.

My advisory role in the government data sector earned recognition at the Arizona Digital Government Summit 2023 in the session 'My Data + Your Data = Our Data.' I hold several industry certifications and recognitions. Notably, I am an honoree for the "ALM-Women Leader due to my innovation and technology contributions in public industry.

2What is your role in the company?
My role as Chief Digital Officer and Data Officer plays a pivotal role in helping organizations, specifically public sector, to harness the power of digital technology and data to stay competitive, make data driven decisions and drive innovation.
3Please tell us more about your organization.

I&I Software was founded in 2001, and is headquartered in Bethlehem, PA. We have delivery centers in the US and India, with over 200+ associates' worldwide. We offer onsite, offsite, and offshore models. I&I has worked with many federal, state and local governments to help them achieve their digital transformation objectives.

Smarter, more demanding citizens look to public sector leaders to help facilitate the privacy and democratization of data required to create smart, safe, digital communities. I&I Software delivers data management solutions and designs digital infrastructures to insulate citizens and public sector leaders from the Velocity of Change.

4Describe the industry your organization is specialized in, as well as its main characteristics.
I&I has worked with many different states and municipalities to help them achieve their digital transformation objectives. We meet the cutting edge of emerging technology needs bringing software SME, products and solutions to offer end-to-end specialty business solutions in the areas of Platform Engineering, Enterprise Data Intelligence, Cloud Intelligence, Information Management and Big Data Analytics.
5Congratulations! As the winner of the TITAN Women In Business Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?

Winning the TITAN Women in Business Awards in the field of consulting and innovation technology is a remarkable honor, both personally and for my committed team. This prestigious award symbolizes various significant accomplishments and profoundly influences our aspirations and work:

Firstly, this award robustly acknowledges the unwavering hard work, dedication, and innovation that my team and I have invested in our consulting and technology projects. It serves as a validation of our steadfast commitment to upholding excellence and continually pioneering cutting-edge solutions that resonate with our clients’ needs, enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness.

This accolade also acts as a potent catalyst for inspiration. It serves as a constant reminder of the tangible impact our efforts have had within our industry, fueling our motivation to perpetually push boundaries, innovate, and drive transformative change. The TITAN Women in Business Awards is a respected hallmark of credibility and excellence in our domain, amplifying the trust and confidence our clients and partners place in our capabilities. This, in turn, facilitates the cultivation of stronger, more meaningful partnerships and the genesis of novel opportunities, as exemplified by our award-winning collaboration with the City of Glendale in pioneering innovative solutions and a contemporary data platform.

Moreover, this award fosters a sense of connectivity and community within the industry, enabling us to engage with a network of esteemed professionals and thought leaders. It also sends a resounding message to aspiring women in the fields of consulting and innovation technology, showcasing that excellence is not confined by gender and advocating for a more inclusive and diversified presence of women in STEM-related careers.

In essence, the TITAN Women in Business Awards transcends being merely an accolade; it represents a motivating call to action, inspiring us to relentlessly pursue excellence, champion innovation, and propel the visibility and involvement of women within our industry. We are immensely grateful for this acknowledgment and eagerly anticipate the multitude of opportunities and challenges that the future holds.

6How has winning an international award help promote your organization?

Winning an international award has significantly promoted I&I in various beneficial ways, catalyzing our journey toward achieving digital transformation objectives across states and municipalities. This honor carries with it a profound sense of responsibility; it mandates that we uphold and enhance the rigorous standards and excellence that facilitated our achievement of this prestigious award.

- Enhanced credibility and recognition: The award has bolstered our organizational credibility and fortified our position as industry leaders committed to innovation and excellence. It echoes our unwavering dedication and comprehensive strategies in helping various sectors realize their digital transformation goals.

- Commitment to excellence: In the wake of this recognition, we remain ardently committed to perpetually elevating our operational standards. We are steadfast in our resolve to pioneer innovative benchmarks, promoting industry-wide progression and distinction.

- Fostering collaboration and partnerships: This award has been instrumental in unlocking new avenues of opportunity, fostering an environment conducive to vibrant collaborations and strategic partnerships. This network expansion will invariably fuel our capacity to spearhead groundbreaking innovations and maintain a trajectory of dynamic growth and development.

In conclusion, the international award has been a pivotal catalyst in promoting I&I, enhancing our reputation, fostering new partnerships, and reaffirming our commitment to industry excellence and innovation.

7What are the challenges of developing / marketing your winning entry(ies)?

Developing and marketing award-winning solutions, such as our AZ TAX SaS, indeed comes with its unique set of challenges.

- Development challenges: The initiation phase, fueled by innovation and unique ideas, is crucial. It involves cultivating trust among a diverse array of stakeholders, including users, partners, and government leaders. Building this trust is a significant initial hurdle, as it forms the foundation upon which the solution's credibility and acceptance are built.

- Measurement and validation: Post-trust establishment, the focus shifts towards the empirical measurement of the solution's impact and efficacy. Accurate measurement and result analysis are essential as they significantly influence the marketing strategy, making it more precise and focused.

- Marketing challenges: Navigating through the intricacies of marketing, our aim was to transition AZ TAX SaS from being merely an innovative concept to a viable, marketable solution appealing to a broad spectrum of entities. The transformation involved meticulous planning and strategic execution.

- Success metrics: Our journey culminated in success, as evidenced by AZ TAX SaS, which not only demonstrated tangible revenue benefits for Glendale but also enhanced its market appeal, positioning it as a compelling, beneficial solution for potential adopters.

In conclusion, the development and marketing journey, though challenging, was navigated successfully, resulting in a solution that stands testament to innovation, strategic planning, and execution.

8As a business owner, please tell us more about your ideation process.

In the ever-evolving landscape of our industry, my ideation process is both dynamic and meticulous. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved:

1. Problem and opportunity and identification

Initially, I focus on discerning the primary issues to address or unmet needs within the market. It involves identifying market gaps, areas ripe for innovation, or existing solutions that could be enhanced or streamlined.

2. Comprehensive market research

Armed with a clear problem or opportunity, I conduct an exhaustive 360-degree market research. This holistic approach fortifies creative thinking, enabling the generation of diverse, innovative ideas.

3. Feasibility study

A robust feasibility study follows, encompassing various facets such as finance, technology, human resources, processes, and timelines. This phase ensures that the idea is both viable and sustainable.

4. Strategy formulation

Post-feasibility, the strategic business plan is crafted, incorporating elements like partnership strategies, value propositions, and overall operational planning.

5. Proof of Concept (POC) and execution

With adequate funding and resources aligned, the execution phase commences, starting with the proof of concept. This stage is marked by confident and deliberate strides towards realization.

6. Performance assessment and adaptation

Continuous performance assessments are integral to the process, facilitating necessary adjustments and adaptations. This fluidity ensures alignment with evolving market dynamics and trends.

7. Continuous improvement and innovation

My success mantra hinges on the continuous improvement and innovation paradigm. Adaptability, in sync with emerging trends and technologies, is crucial in maintaining relevance and achieving sustained success.

8. Global Perspective

I maintain a boundless perspective towards success, perpetually open to global ideas and innovations. This openness fosters a diverse pool of ideas, ensuring a vibrant innovation ecosystem.

In conclusion, the ideation process is not a static, one-time event but a dynamic, ongoing journey. It is a relentless pursuit of improvement and innovation, quintessential for navigating the business world’s multifaceted dynamism.

9What is your own definition of a successful team / organization / business?

A successful team, organization, or business, in my opinion, operates on a foundation of consistent achievement of objectives, enriched by a culture that is both positive and inclusive. I believe there are five essential pillars to success:

1. Vision and goal clarity

A clear articulation of goals, strategies, and vision is paramount. Grounded realism paired with a drive to meet or exceed targets embodies the spirit of a successful organization.

2. Customer and stakeholder centricity

Prioritizing customers and stakeholders at the core of the planning process is crucial. Success flourishes through collaboration and the tangible value delivered to them, marking the essence of a meaningful innovation journey.

3. Innovation and adaptability

Embracing innovation, adaptability, and a forward-thinking approach ensures longevity and relevance. Producing high-quality, sustainable products and solutions that are resilient against the future's uncertainties is a defining characteristic.

4. Employee well-being and diversity

Prioritizing the well-being of employees, celebrating diversity, and fostering inclusivity are non-negotiable. A harmonious, valued, and well-supported workforce is a powerful driving force behind organizational success.

5. Leadership and team collaboration

Effective leadership, accompanied by a collaborative and cohesive team dynamic, is essential. Such leadership nurtures motivation, engagement, and a shared vision, contributing significantly to success.

In conclusion, success in a team, organization, or business is a nuanced balance of tangible achievements and intangible cultural and ethical riches, leaving an indelibly positive imprint on stakeholders and society at large.

10What led you / your organization to become successful within the industry you are currently in?

I&I Software’s journey to success in our industry is fueled by a relentless commitment to driving technology transformation for federal, state, and local governments, fostering innovation, and delivering future-proof solutions. Our success blueprint hinges on several strategic pillars:

Alignment with evolving digital strategies

We meticulously align our approach with the public sector's evolving digital strategies, ensuring our solutions resonate with the dynamic needs and expectations of constituents in an ever-changing environment.

Collaboration with cities

At the heart of our strategy is a robust collaboration with cities. We are instrumental in designing and implementing innovative solutions that address critical challenges such as sustainability, mobility, citizen engagement, and public safety.

Strong government partnerships

Our partnerships are our strength. We have cultivated profound relationships with government CIOs, aiding them in enhancing operational efficiency and revamping mission-critical technology environments.

Expertise in diverse technology domains

Our expertise is both vast and nuanced, covering pivotal areas such as SMART City initiatives, cybersecurity, enterprise data governance, cloud-based legacy modernization, artificial intelligence, and actionable data insights.

Synergy with industry trends

Our strategies are synergized with prevailing industry trends, such as those articulated by Gartner—Modernization, Insights, and Transformation—always with a steadfast focus on catering to the holistic needs of citizens and stakeholders.

Collaborative technological alliances

Collaborations amplify our impact. By partnering with industry giants like Collibra, Microsoft, AWS, and Informatica, we leverage collective expertise to deliver top-tier, cutting-edge technology solutions and services.

In essence, our success is not an accident but a result of strategic alignments, collaborative vigor, technological proficiency, and a profound understanding of industry nuances and trends.

11How has the country, you are based in, helped move your industry forward?

The United States has played a pivotal role in propelling the smart city and data platform industry forward, providing a fertile ground for innovation through a synergy of government initiatives, private sector involvement, and academic research.

Government initiatives

Agencies like the Department of Transportation (DOT) have spurred progress through programs like the Smart City Challenge. This initiative not only awarded a substantial grant to promote smart city projects but also encouraged a collaborative ecosystem involving government bodies, academic institutions, and the private sector.

Private sector contributions

Significant contributions have also flowed from the private sector, with tech giants infusing expertise in essential areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics. Their involvement has magnified the industry's capability to navigate technological frontiers and realize innovative solutions.

Research and development

The United States has been at the forefront of research in areas like smart grid technologies, with universities and research institutions playing a crucial role in pioneering novel concepts and technologies for sustainable urban living.

Standard-setting and recognitions

Recognitions like the Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities Certification have been instrumental in setting benchmarks for excellence, driving cities to leverage evidence and data more robustly in governance and civic engagement.

Collaborations and global outreach

By forging collaborations and engaging with international organizations, the U.S. has bolstered the exchange of ideas and best practices, fostering a climate of innovation and holistic development.

Infrastructure development

The rollout of foundational technologies like 5G has also been a significant catalyst, enhancing the infrastructure necessary for the seamless operation and integration of smart city solutions.

In conclusion, the multifaceted support from various sectors in the United States has substantially enriched the industry, steering it towards enhanced urban sustainability, economic vitality, and an improved quality of urban life through the judicious application of data and technology. Which can be leveraged globally by other countries.

12What have you found to be a hindering factor, for your business, during the entire course of the pandemic, and how did you overcome that hinderance?

The pandemic underscored two predominant challenges: the risks associated with operational silos and the urgency to accelerate technology projects amidst unprecedented circumstances. The need for cohesive global data governance became increasingly evident, as emphasized by experts at the World Economic Forum. They advocated placing data exchanges at the heart of smart city ecosystems, subsequently driving technology infrastructure investments.

An illustrative example from our experience was leading the Grant Management Project for King County, WA, where we coordinated case management across 46 agencies, serving a population of 2.3 million. Amidst the complexities of remote work and the team’s personal adversities during the pandemic, maintaining motivation and fostering collaboration were pivotal. We meticulously navigated these challenges, culminating in the successful disbursement more than of $150 million in grants, which facilitated relief to more than 12,000 residents and prevented evictions.

This accomplishment resonated with recognition, with King County being lauded as the number one county in public technology use, as per the Washington State Wire. Echoing this sentiment, Tanya Hannah, the CIO of King County, articulated, “It’s about digital transformation and merging the physical and digital spaces. If COVID taught us anything, it’s that people want to connect with government using the technology they have available.”

In conclusion, the hindrances brought by the pandemic were formidable, yet they underscored the necessity for agility, robust technology infrastructure, and a strong emphasis on team collaboration and motivation to navigate complexities and deliver impactful results.

13What are the current trends in the business industry that you are most excited about?

The government industry is currently amidst a transformative phase, brimming with groundbreaking trends primarily centered around data and smart city initiatives that are particularly exhilarating. For instance:

Adoption of AI and machine-learning: Leveraging these technologies for analyzing extensive data sets fosters more data-driven and informed decision-making processes.

Open data initiatives: These are instrumental in promoting transparency and accountability, amplifying the trust and confidence citizens have in governmental processes.

Data privacy and security: There is a heightened focus on strengthening the mechanisms that safeguard citizen data, underscoring the commitment to privacy and data integrity.

5G connectivity: The advent of 5G is poised to be revolutionary for smart city initiatives. Its promise of high-speed and low-latency connectivity is crucial for real-time data transfer, paving the way for advancements in autonomous vehicles, IoT devices, and smart infrastructures.

Digital twins: Utilized for urban planning, these virtual replicas of physical entities are invaluable for the monitoring and developmental facets of infrastructure projects.

We are also closely monitoring the proliferating trends in blockchain technology, which holds immense promise for augmenting transparency, and data analytics and governance. Innovations steering urban mobility, transportation, and cross-agency collaborations are also on our radar.

These evolving trends excite us immensely due to the pivotal role we play in the technological renaissance. We are uniquely positioned to contribute pioneering technology products and services that resonate with the essence of smart city initiatives. Our objective is to cultivate strategic partnerships and offer innovative solutions that synergize with the overarching governmental strategies for urban development, thereby enhancing the citizen experience and fostering a more connected, transparent, and efficient urban ecosystem.

14What resources would you recommend to someone who is searching to improve their business prospects and organizational success?

Some of the resources which have helped me to educate myself, learn new business perspectives and move towards success personally and for my business are as follows;

Mentorship programs: Seek mentorship from experienced professionals or business leaders in your field. Mentorship can provide valuable guidance and insights.

Networking events and conferences: Attend industry-specific conferences and seminars to network, gain insights, and stay updated with the latest trends and best practices. For example,, e.Republic webinars and events for public industry or any other technology conferences.

Professional associations: Join industry-specific professional associations and organizations. They often offer resources, networking events, and educational opportunities.

All individuals are different in the ways the learn and grow. I believe in learning from other successful people around you and applying what matters to you and your customers.

15Where do you see the evolution of the overall business industry in the next 5-10 years?

In the next 5-10 years, the business industry is poised for unprecedented technological evolution. McKinsey & Company project a surge in technological advancement in the upcoming decade, surpassing the progress witnessed over the previous century. This rapid transformation, driven by changing needs, wants, and expectations, necessitates businesses to strategically identify and invest in sustainable and financially viable technological domains.

Several key trends are forecasted to dominate the landscape, such as:

Accelerated digitalization: As businesses transition towards a more digital-centric approach, adapting to new technologies and platforms will be paramount.

Remote work proliferation: The widespread adoption of remote work is expected to persist, necessitating the enhancement of virtual collaboration tools and methodologies.

Sustainability and ESG focus: Businesses are anticipated to prioritize sustainability, embracing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles in their operational strategies.

Blockchain and enhanced automation: The utilization of blockchain technology and advanced process automation will likely gain momentum, optimizing various business processes and transactions.

Connectivity innovations (5G/10G): Advancements in connectivity, including the rollout of 5G and subsequent technologies, will redefine the realms of communication and data exchange.

Advanced AI and automation: The incorporation of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technologies is expected to revolutionize various business facets, ranging from customer service to product development.

Personalized customer experiences: Businesses will likely strive to offer more tailored customer experiences, leveraging data analytics and AI to understand and cater to individual consumer preferences.

Enhanced cybersecurity measures: With the digital transformation, heightened emphasis will likely be placed on fortifying cybersecurity defenses to safeguard sensitive data and maintain operational integrity.

Collaboration and well-being enhancement: Organizations are predicted to promote environments that foster collaboration, innovation, and the well-being of their teams.

Moreover, industry-specific considerations such as resilient supply chains, decentralized infrastructure, stringent data privacy compliance, and investments in alternative and clean energy technologies will also be pivotal. Flexibility, innovation, and adaptability will be essential attributes, enabling businesses to navigate the complexities of the evolving technological landscape and align with emergent industry paradigms. Thus, strategic planning and foresightedness will be instrumental in leveraging these trends to drive business success and industry progression in the forthcoming years.

16Who inspired you in your life, and why?

Throughout my career journey, various industry leaders have imparted wisdom that I’ve warmly embraced. However, one individual stands out distinctly—Sheryl Sandberg. Her philosophy has profoundly resonated with me. Sandberg accentuates that authentic leadership is about enhancing the abilities of others due to one’s presence, ensuring that this positive influence endures even in one's absence.

This perspective has profoundly influenced my approach, inspiring me to empower and mentor my team with a more enhanced focus and determination. Her guidance has been a beacon, steering my leadership style toward nurturing and developing the potential of my team members, ensuring a lasting impact.

17What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

For me, the key to success lies in continuous learning and adaptation. Embracing change, being receptive to new ideas, and not being afraid to step out of my comfort zone have been fundamental. Surrounding myself with a diverse team, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, and maintaining a customer-centric approach have also been pivotal.

Passion and persistence: Passion is contagious. Be passionate about what you do and persistent in your efforts. It’s the continuous, determined pursuit that breaks down the highest walls.

Value relationships: Foster and value your relationships, be it with your team, partners, or customers. Success is a collective endeavor.

Ethical grounding: Always maintain integrity and ethical considerations in your decisions and actions. Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

Vision: Keep a clear vision, set practical goals, and work diligently towards them. Adapt as necessary but remain steadfast in your overarching objectives.

Remember, the journey is as important as the destination. Embrace failures as learning opportunities and celebrate small victories along the way. Don’t let gender, age, diversity stop you from achieving your goal. These are tests, so pass them with grace and make the paths easier for the other females so they follow your legacy.

Winning Entry

Female Executive in Consulting and Information Technology | 2023

Iffat Tariq | TITAN Women in Business Awards
According to an audit report by the Arizona Auditor General, the Arizona Department of Revenue’s centralized sales tax system failed to ...
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Iffat Tariq

I&I Software

Iffat Tariq, the Chief Digital Officer at I&I Software Inc., brings over two decades of experience in leading digital initiatives across EMEA, Canada, and the US. Specializing in Smart Cities and the Public Sector, Tariq aids state and local governments in utilizing data-driven approaches, focusing on advancing these sectors through digitization.

Read more about this interview with Jen Healey from the United States, the Gold Winner of the 2023 TITAN Women in Business Awards.