New Mexico’s Darryl Ackley became the state’s secretary of technology in 2011, and last year he was chosen to represent NASCIO in the FirstNet national public safety network initiative. Given Ackley’s FirstNet activities, it’s not surprising that he’s focusing attention on improving public safety communications in his state. But he also leads a drive to improve enterprise services in order to provide what he calls “a better platform for innovation.” We talked to him about that effort.

What’s your strategy for upgrading enterprise services?

The thinking for us has been to very much put an emphasis on the business process and business practice first. A lot of these systems are owned by agencies that we oversee. So we encourage them to truly understand their business process, engage the folks who will be running it day-to-day, develop those requirements and then look at technology. Because we see a lot of technology solutions applied with the business following it.

How does your workforce need to evolve?

We have to become more business-oriented without losing our technology focus. The people who are providing these solutions need to be better equipped to socialize them and market them. They need to speak in the language that executives and decision-makers understand, and elevate our ability to be a solution broker at the table, as opposed to just a technology component that sometimes gets thought of at the last minute.

How do you get those skills?

A lot of it comes down to the vision — refocusing and rebranding some of our efforts. Some of that is simple things, like stepping back from the acronyms and jargon, and becoming very descriptive with our solutions. That will take some training, especially for our service managers. But a lot of it will be just setting a tone and saying, “Let’s engage our business partners at their level.”

Will that need drive new job titles or positions?

It’s both new jobs and looking at jobs in a different way. We’re probably going to have some dynamic workforce assignments, which state governments typically aren’t very flexible with. That’s been something I’ve tried to do — as much as possible, create more of a matrix management in terms of the way we meet those needs. But certainly, we’ve also changed some job titles to include business analyst, even if it’s IT business analyst, as opposed to some of the more archaic things we’ve had.

Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  |  Editor

Steve Towns is editor of Government Technology, and executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government Technology,Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market.