This interview with 1901 Group’s Director of Business Development for the Homeland Security Market, Zack Orchant, and its EVP of Business Development, Paul Wilkinson, looks at changing expectations post COVID, lessons learned about customer experience, the data challenge, non-traditional partners Government will need, and how industry can respond.
Government Bringing Innovation to Improve Customer Service and Data Management
The pandemic has shifted the mindset of Government and industry. For the first time, there is the understanding, and evidence, that we don’t need to be together under the same roof to deliver on the mission. We’ve seen an increase in collaborative technology with teams working from home and greater collaboration within agencies.
Moving forward we’ll see some of those pre-event services, things like processing of those entering our country, have a heightened awareness of health screening and prior travel while also seeing an increase in contact-less health screen of passengers.
There has been a greater focus and examination in recent months of national critical functions, things like supply chain, food sources, medical shortages, a greater need and expectation to ensure the continued flow of those functions that have required a greater analysis and prioritization when it comes to risk and co-ordinated responses to risk mitigation.
There has also been a shift in missions services to ensure that higher expectation of safety has been addressed. Things like temperature check points, contact list identification, often with an underpinning of artificial intelligence to support it all.
That higher safety expectation also comes with a level of demanded transparency, evidence and success of what is being done. To achieve this, many agencies are rapidly shifting their applications and infrastructure to be better enabled for field staff and remote users. This shift, much of it involving a move to cloud, allows for better access to date in order to make data-driven decisions at scale. Another example of higher safety expectation would be to look at the Transportation Security Administration where their temperature screening is a visible measure so those customers being tested can see for themselves their results.
Lessons about Customer Experience
COVID-19 created a need to drive innovation, an immediate need in a much more rapid fashion. Agencies across Government left the security of their four walls and had to move quickly to Zero Trust models, to secure web gateways, multifactor authentication and things like FedRAMP. A Zero Trust model essentially establishes a model of trust, verification, and continuous evaluation.
Much of this may have been in planning stages prior to COVID, including shifting to cloud, increased speed and access for remote user and mobile access, even greater collaboration between agencies focused on improving the customer experience. The urgency of the need to make those changes resulted in an uptick in remote managed services that could ensure that resilience and security was already built in.
As we move out of the pandemic, there will need to be a measured response by those same agencies that had to move quickly to look at the resiliency of their IT infrastructure and service models to ensure continuity of operations and security aspects are covered, and to ensure that prolonged separation and operation under the current model remains feasible.
Companies that enable critical supply chain will be sought after by various agencies, as will companies that can facilitate that shift to the cloud including hyper scalers and managed service providers, as well as companies that can ensure resilience through FedRAMP solutions and so on.
Government across the board will be realizing the need for rapid migration to cloud and management, as well as automation. X-as-a-Service is an expression we are hearing more often and points to that ongoing security and managed services need, for both IT infrastructure and mission services.
From Government’s view, they will want to focus on companies who have a business models that can specifically address Federal agency needs on a 24×7 basis. There are a handful now doing a good job at educating the market on the right direction to move but there is still some fragmentation among service providers in terms of what that right solution is. Everyone understands the need, but Government will want to see evidence of success through deployed proof of concept models.
The Data Challenge
The amount of data available to agencies as part of cyber initiatives, COVID response and data gathered through advanced sensors and wearable technology is only continuing to increase. We know the data is there and that it needs to be leveraged in order for decision makers to be able to make informed decisions rapidly. When you combine data from the various initiatives (cyber, health and advanced sensors) and add to them an overlay of data attributed to national critical functions, you can then leverage the data gathered and analyze the data in order to identify potential risks and plan for potential future risks and events which is key.
To that end, the tagging of data is critical. Placing the workload on humans is time consuming – it really needs to be done to a larger scale – so we need to think instead of artificial intelligence, machine learning to efficiently inventory and categorize frustrated data sets. This is happening already to some degree but we’re really just getting started.
We’re working with solutions in a customer environment in which AI can make assumptions, raise questions to have a human answer, watch and learn from the response and add that new model to their learning. As that process continues, you gain a higher degree of confidence in the automation.
The other key with data of course, is ensuring the integrity of the data, the security and file integrity. This is where things like blockchain really factor in.
As Government continues its cloud first journey, greater access controls and security will be required. We’re going to see a continued move toward automation of as much of the environment as is possible. Moving to X-as-a-Service model, there is also going to be an increased demand for FedRAMP and managed service providers who can deliver services at the same 24x7x365 operational tempo as many of the agencies within Government. These will all be critical to agency goals and cyber underpinnings, over the next 3-5 years.
Digital transformation is beginning to happen as agencies work to step away from legacy, to become more efficient, more predictable, and more affordable.
The challenges of COVID and those digital transformation journeys will create a unique opportunity to explore challenges and lessons learned. How will agencies fulfill its mission differently in the post-Coronavirus world? Industry needs to be able to help identify those shortfalls and to have ready solutions. It must also be ready with the talent needed to meet those emerging needs for a more resilient workforce.
1901 Group recently partnered with The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready), a newly established non-profit organization formed in response to the economic hardships created by COVID-19.
Zack Orchant, Director of Business Development for the Homeland Security Market
Zack brings over a decade of experience as a leader in developing strategic direction and pursuit of multifaceted opportunities within government agencies such as DHS, DOJ, Federal Financials, and Federal Healthcare organizations. He built a successful career where he served as a Business Development Executive with United Data Technologies where he successfully led and executed the pursuit of onboarding to the GSA GSS program. Prior that, Zack led pursuits of strategic programs at CDWG, supporting the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.
Paul Wilkinson, EVP of Business Development leading Business Development, Capture Management, Marketing, and Channel Partners
Paul has over 20+ years of experience leading technology and product companies in the public and private sector with a focus on bring new technology and disruptive IT services to the market. Prior to 1901 Group, Paul was Chief Operating Officer of List Innovation Solutions, supporting the successful sale of the company to Salient Federal Solutions and led Salient’s Strategic Market Development Group. Paul held numerous leadership positions providing financial consulting, product management, and IT services supporting both public and private sector customers at SRA International, BearingPoint, and KPMG.
About 1901 Group
1901 Group is a leading provider of information technology, cloud, cyber security, and enterprise-scale managed services to transition customers from on-premise IT infrastructure models to hybrid cloud solutions. We improve service delivery with our FedRAMP-authorized Enterprise IT Operations Center (EITOC) for 24×7 user, complex IT infrastructure, and mission-critical systems support.