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Exclusive: Granicus CEO Maps the Future of Gov Tech Business

In an exclusive interview, CEO Mark Hynes talks about what’s next for his company during this busy time for gov tech vendors, and what it takes to achieve scale. He also explains what that means for public agencies.

Closeup of part of a puzzle with missing peices.
As the business of government technology continues to grow, attracting more investment and merger-and-acquisition activity, local and state agencies should prepare for more platform integrations.

That’s one of the main messages offered by Mark Hynes, CEO of Granicus, a Denver-based citizen engagement technology provider that has recently been among the most active players in this market. His front-seat view of the changes taking place in government technology help illustrate some of the issues faced by the public-sector professionals responsible for buying and deploying all that software.

“Integration is the name of the game,” Hynes said during an exclusive interview with Government Technology.

Granicus, like many other firms in this space, has been on a buying spree, part of a longer-term business plan that comes amid the challenges and opportunities of the pandemic, along with the broader move toward cloud-based services and more digital engagement for constituents.

For example, in June Granicus said it would buy OpenCities and Bang the Table, two Australian startups whose SaaS technology is designed to promote such tasks as community engagement and form digitalization, respectively.

Acquisition is only part of the longer business plan for Granicus and its rivals and peers.

“We have assembled all this tech,” Hynes said, “and now we are integrating all these technologies into something where one plus one equals three.”

If phase one of the Granicus plan that began about five years ago is to buy promising gov tech vendors, phase two, in place now, is about post-acquisition strategy.

“It is about assembling these great businesses and technologies and knitting them together,” he said.

Granicus is certainly not the only gov tech business doing that.

As the space grows, and as vendors and agencies take on more lessons from the private sector — including Amazon and the e-commerce space — integration and building more inclusive platforms are trends that are gaining speed. Law enforcement offers a solid example of this, with RapidSOS and other companies adding software and even marketplace features to their product offerings in a kind of push toward one-stop shopping.

What that means for local and state governments is that tech vendors — again, much like Amazon and other retailers — are striving to offer wide-ranging product packages that can perform multiple tasks, all while reducing friction.

“We see the opportunity to take modern technology that has grown up on the commercial sector and apply it to the very different social set,” Hynes said. “We are putting the right tech together in a way that was done in the commercial sector.”

The next phase for Granicus — as is the case for many other gov tech providers during this era of growth — is to achieve scale and do so smoothly.

“Scale is incredibly important in government technology,” Hynes said.

Getting to scale is in turn being helped by the improvements and increased focus on security by technology providers including Granicus and other companies.

“The movement of the most secure and sensitive data into the cloud require significant security investments,” he said. “Small companies just don’t have the same capabilities of budgeting for that” as do larger firms.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.