CEO, Florida Technology Council
When it comes to legislative support for gov tech, Florida has a checkered history. In 2005, lawmakers stopped funding what was then called the State Technology Office. In 2012, the Agency for Enterprise Information Technology was dismantled by the Legislature. More recently, legislators threatened to reorganize the office, only three years after reviving it. So, when James Taylor was first named CEO to the Florida Technology Council (FTC), created as the only statewide association focused solely on the state’s technology sector, he could easily have been forgiven had he opted not to take on such a thankless task.
But Taylor’s first foray into gov tech was as a businessman, involving a streaming ed tech project with the Florida Department of Education that was initially a flop. But he knew he had a workable solution, and in less than a year, the project was in schools across 63 out of 67 districts.
It’s Taylor’s tenacity matched with boundless energy and top-notch communication skills that has made the FTC a driving force behind the state’s rapid growth in the tech sector. He also has a knack for explaining to state legislators not only which technologies are important to how government serves its citizens, but also why. Legislators grumble about the high cost of technology, but they don’t always have the right facts on what works, according to Taylor.
Taylor’s ability to communicate has helped keep Florida’s IT operations in a better state and without the political turmoil that has roiled IT management in the past. It’s a remarkable accomplishment and a job that Taylor relishes for its challenges. It works because of Taylor’s experience and understanding of state politics, public service and technology. His singular approach and the success that comes with it is rooted in some basic beliefs: “The most important thing is to be that person that everyone can trust.”
As for turning around a politician’s skeptical view of technology’s benefits, Taylor has a special answer for that. “Positive change comes at the rate leadership discovers that technology is not an expense, but rather an investment in our future.”