Top 100: Verizon relishes everything-as-a-service trend

Company sees move toward utility computing as a play to its strengths

Among all the trends in the government market that threaten traditional business models for government contractors, one makes Susan Zeleniak feel good about Verizon Communication Inc.’s position in the market. And that’s the growing demand for technology-as-a-service, or as some describe it “everything-as-a-service.” br>The concept of buying technology services as a utility and paying for it according to usage is gaining momentum in the federal market as agencies look for ways to cut costs and gain efficiencies.

With Verizon’s heritage of selling a wide variety of services by the minute, the government’s shift toward everything-as-a-service creates a great business opportunity, said Zeleniak, group president of Verizon Federal.

“Buying technology-as-a-service is going to be very popular and we feel we are in very good position for that,” she said. “As a carrier this is pretty easy for us. We have the billing systems in place that charge for services.”

Zeleniak can quickly rattle off several wins captured in the past year, despite what she called a “very challenging” environment. The company’s success landed Verizon at the No. 18 spot on the 2012 Top 100 with $1.9 billion in prime contracts.

Some of the wins came under the Networx program, a huge telecommunications contract through which Verizon competes with AT&T, CenturyLink, Sprint and Level 3 Communications for communications services.

Another area of accomplishment has been call centers, particularly for veterans and other citizens seeking services from government agencies. “A lot of that work runs on our networks and our applications,” she said.

But one piece of work that Zeleniak points to with pride is technically a subcontracting role to Northrop Grumman on a fraud detection project with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The project uses a fraud detection solution from Verizon that uses predictive modeling to stop improper payments before they happen.

“We’ve had to detect fraud in our own networks for a very long time,” she said, referring to the heyday of calling cards when stolen numbers were a lucrative criminal enterprise. “We applied the same kind of tools and algorithms to a different application, but the concept of predictive modeling is the same.”

The CMS project shows that Verizon is moving “into some new territory with applications that help the government save money,” Zeleniak said.

The project also is an example of Verizon’s strength in security, one of three areas along with cloud computing and mobility that Zeleniak said is driving her company’s growth in the federal market.

One change the company put in place last year was the combination of its wireless and wireline teams into a single entity in the public sector.

“We needed the ability to go to the customer and give them an end-to-end solution because that’s how we expect them to buy,” she said, using the example of someone with a tablet who wants to securely access an application on a data center whether they are in the office or working remotely.

Again, it is another sign of the building momentum of buying technology-as-a-service. But while Zeleniak has faith that the shift to services is real that doesn’t mean that it will be a smooth transition.

“The government is used to buying things, and buying as a service brings a different set of service-level agreements and different kinds of liability and different requirements,” she said. “It’s an enormous change.”

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