Staying on Course of Technological Evolution

Tracy Doaks, Chief Deputy State CIO/Chief Services Officer, State of North Carolina
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Tracy Doaks, Chief Deputy State CIO/Chief Services Officer, State of North Carolina

1. How has your IT operating model changed during the last five years? Within the NC Department of Information Technology’s (NC DIT) IT operating model, Service Delivery is responsible for providing reliable, cost effective services to agencies, local government, and the education space. We partner with our customers to ensure the service meets their current and future requirements, service levels, and budgets. The services include network, voice, identity management, hosting, storage, data center, desktop, and enterprise applications. The Service Delivery division is comprised of three functions—plan, build, and run. This model is a common IT operation reference model, where the foundation across the functions includes operational service excellence, governance, and security.

2. What do you think are the biggest challenges that the Unified Communications technologists face in working in a more agile and outcomes based model? Keeping our rates competitive is always top of mind. As we transition to a unified department of Information Technology, we want to ensure we don’t increase the cost of our services. Additionally, cybersecurity is also top of mind. We work very closely with our Chief Security and Risk Officer to ensure that we are making the proper investments in security and that our services are protected.

3. Moving from traditional IT to a service offering model requires a major mindset shift in IT. How did you make that happen? I believe that services are the backbone to our operating model. They drive the day-to-day actions that we complete, and enable us to support our customers. I’m fortunate to lead a great team, and to work alongside excellent leadership within NCDIT. With their great support, we are making that shift. Additionally, we utilized blogging and thought leadership posts to communicate a clear message of how our model was structured, so that each employee could see how they fit into the organization. Lastly, we have adopted a service based model that makes sense. It has a true entrepreneurial spirit and service ownership that has never been seen at NCDIT. This provides opportunities for everyone to understand their part in impacting our services while meeting the needs of our customers.

  ​The ability to be flexible or, agile, as the technology or the business landscape changes is also critical to success   

4. What set of skills do you think is required for the technology leaders to be successful in the new enterprise landscape? Business acumen is key. Rarely, do we “do IT” for the sake of IT. We are enabling the business and by extension the citizens of NC. Understanding the businesses we support and having good relationships with the agencies’ senior leadership is key to my role. Otherwise, it is difficult to know whether to enhance a service, introduce a new one, or retire one altogether.

Also, I think it’s always important to keep an open mind. I think anyone in this type of position should be open to hearing new ideas from team members, and should always be keen to the possibility of how new technologies can positively (or negatively) impact the business. The ability to be flexible or, agile, as the technology or the business landscape changes is also critical to success.

5. Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about? The state is also working on next-generation desktop services, and with that comes a fresh look at mobility. Even its name, ‘desktop,’ makes it sound archaic and definitely in need of renovation. We’re going to look at virtual desktop infrastructure as well as enterprise mobile management, bring your own device policies and several different support models that will allow our customers to be more versatile in how they collaborate with each other. Additionally, we’ve been partnering with the North Carolina Innovation Center (iCenter), which is housed within our department, to look at the possibility of utilizing chat bot technology to deliver services.

6. We are all dealing with technology every day. How does technology drive your life in Unified Communications? As stated previously, we have found that moving towards a more mobile-centered platform will allow us to be more efficient, and instantly collaborate with our partners and each other. Over time, we’ve seen the evolution from pagers, desktop phones, to PC and now to mobile. We are currently evaluating certain mobile technologies that would improve the way we offer services to our customers as well as new collaboration and productivity tools that improve how we operate and service our customers going forward.

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