Harris restructures for newer, bigger opportunities

With nearly $3 billion in prime contracts, Harris' new organization puts more focus on their customers' mission.

Harris Corp. further boosted its reputation as a major government, aerospace and defense contractor in 2010, bringing in $2.9 billion in prime contracting revenues — a 21 percent increase over 2009 — and holding steady at No. 13 on Washington Technology’s list of Top 100 federal contractors.

However, the year — was marked by the introduction of new products and business models, key acquisitions and expansion into adjacent markets and new geographic opportunities — also helped the company build a foundation for a new direction, said John Heller, president of Harris IT Services.

In March, Harris announced a strategic realignment of its operating businesses, a move that will reposition the company as a leading technology provider across a broader base of both government and commercial markets where advanced communications and information technologies are in high demand.

These include not just established markets such as like defense, intelligence, air traffic control and public safety, but also new markets such as health care, energy, cloud computing, sports, entertainment and retail.

Harris now has three key business segments: RF Communications, which includes the tactical communications, public safety and professional communications businesses; Government Communications, comprised of defense, civil and national intelligence programs; and a brand-new segment named Integrated Network Solutions, which will combine the resources and capabilities of existing and recently acquired businesses. These include the Harris IT Services, Harris CapRock Communications, health care solutions and cyber integrated solutions businesses, all of which were previously part of the Government Communications segment.

With the realignment, the company will be able “to more effectively deliver technologies, products and services from across the company via integrated solutions expertly tailored for the array of markets we serve — specifically, reliable and secure communications and information solutions for people in very demanding environments, anywhere in the world,” Heller said. “This changes how we partner for our customers. We become part of their management teams, helping them to execute their missions.”

As an example of its new direction, Harris has developed an expanding relationship with a large hospital system after winning a contract to implement a simple digital signage solution. Now the company is in contract discussions to expand the relationship and provide IT infrastructure and network management, trusted cloud hosting services, in-hospital communications, imaging as a service and informatics to help improve clinical patient outcomes.

“We already had great success in the past few years leveraging our government IT solutions and technology across numerous commercial markets,” Heller said. “The combined capabilities across numerous Harris businesses create a unique advantage. And as you build credibility and customer intimacy, new opportunities emerge to sell broader solutions.”

That doesn’t mean Harris is pulling back on its core business of tactical communications and government systems. Heller sees huge opportunities ahead. For example, the company will lead a formidable team that includes Computer Sciences Corp., General Dynamics Information Technology and Cisco Systems Inc. that this summer will pursue the much-anticipated Next Generation Transport Services contract, a $1 billion, five-year program to provide network transport services to the Navy.

The company also recently introduced the KnightHawk 3G, a ruggedized mobile tactical base station that, combined with the company’s Falcon III 117G wideband networking radio, is designed to revolutionize frontline military communications. The technologies enable warfighters on the move to maintain cellular service even in locations with limited or no connectivity, allowing them to train, fight and communicate more effectively and report to commanders in real time, regardless of location.

Heller said the new business model will enable his company to continue to grow at a significant pace, even as the current budget uncertainties and new trends towards acquisition delays, hyper-competition and drive to lowest-cost-to-win programs challenge the government contracting market. He said although federal budgets are in flux, areas such as assured communications and IT will continue to be a high priority for funding, thanks to escalating demand for mission capabilities, interoperability requirements across government departments and agencies and the need to turn to technology to enable more productivity.

For these reasons, Harris will continue to aggressively pursue government contracts, and Heller said the company is well positioned to leverage its discriminating communications technologies and nearly $1 billion a year in government-funded and internal research and development investments to create innovative new products and win large systems integration projects in the near future.

In the end, the key to Harris’ long-term success will be its pursuit of a balanced but well-diversified portfolio, according to Heller. “From this broader footprint, we can build additional capabilities for future growth,” he says.