TOP 100: CSC puts pieces in place for growth

Computer Sciences Corp. has spent two years divesting businesses and bolstering its remaining pieces to be ready for growth, and executives see the time has come for opportunities in cloud, cyber and health.

Sometimes, business is like a game of chess; you’ve got to stick to your strategy, put certain pieces into play and wait until they pay off later in the game. And Computer Sciences Corp. is getting ready for the payoff.

“We’ve spent the past two years getting CSC ready to compete in the market that’s going to appear in FY15 and FY16, and we are just chomping on the bit to get going,” said David Zolet, executive vice president and general manager of CSC’s North America Public Sector group.

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The company is ranked No. 9 on the Washington Technology Top 100 with $2.9 billion in prime contracts in fiscal 2013.

Since last year, CSC has captured on a number of huge IDIQs. Some of the more notable wins include an $899.5 million contract with the Navy for integrated cyber operations, a $900 million contract with the Navy for C5ISR support, a $4.1 billion contract with the Army for communications and transmissions services, and a huge $6 billion contract with GSA and DHS for a cloud-based cybersecurity offering.

But perhaps the best success was one that the company fought for especially hard, a $365 million contract with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The contract calls for IT infrastructure for the purpose of helping clients move to the next generation, and after “a long, drawn out contest,” Zolet said, CSC stepped away the victor.

It is not just contracts that have kept CSC in the news, either. The company made a high-profile divestiture of its Applied Technology Division to PAE, which has in turn helped PAE (No. 31) win significant new business. “[ATD] was a very strong organization but wasn’t really core to us, so it was a win-win,” Zolet said.

“PAE was the right home for that organization, they do that type of work. It was something that was on the periphery for us, and [the divestiture] allows us to refocus our energies on next generation IT solutions,” he added.

The deal won best divestiture in Washington Technology’s list of the Top M&A deals of 2013.

The company hasn’t just been divesting, though. CSC acquired a company called Infochimps at the end of the summer of 2013 that is focused on big data and putting together platform-as-a-service capabilities, Zolet said, which will come in handy since big data one of CSC’s core competencies. The company also acquired a company called ServiceMesh in a move to boost its cloud management capabilities.

The company is no stranger to partnerships, either. CSC is working with other companies to better serve their customers. “We do have a partnership with AT&T to provide our cloud platform through their data centers, and we’re in the process of getting that FedRAMP certified,” Zolet said.

Of course, the company was hit just like all other government contractors by the crippling shutdown in October. “Like everybody, it required a team effort, it required our employees, it required flexibility,” Zolet said. CSC was forced to ask its employees to take vacation or move onto the company’s commercial work.

The budget issues were especially frustrating for the company because what they do requires investment on their customers’ part. “We’re talking about using IT as a force multiplier to help them improve their mission effectiveness,” Zolet said. “That requires stability in the budget because it requires investment; it’s not a one year thing, it’s a multi-year thing.”

The good news about the shutdown, Zolet said, was that it gave CSC an opportunity to engage their clients and talk about how to do more with less. It caused the company to dig in that much deeper in order to understand their clients’ issues.

Now that the budget situation is a little clearer, however, things are starting to get back on track. “We know there’s less money, but the stability allows our customers to start making decisions, decisions that enable companies like CSC to help them solve their problems,” Zolet said.

He is still managing expectations, though. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll start to see some movement this year,” he said.

Either way, the company is geared up and ready for any challenges it may face. “We’ve used this time to refine our operating model, to get really focused on delivery excellence and on our clients, we’ve solidified our partnerships, and we’re ready,” Zolet said, to help their customers operate in today’s market.

The key to being successful in today’s market is to be extremely customer-centric, he said. “You’ve got to be maniacally focused on the client’s needs, understanding how they operate and what is required for them to be successful. Taking an outside-in look is crucial. You have to have repeatable, agile solutions.”

Going forward, the company will be focused on what they do best. “For us, it’s all about cloud, cyber, big data and applications. Health care is a big deal for us, as well,” Zolet said.

The biggest challenge the company has is pivoting for growth. CSC has spent a lot of time getting prepared, and now it’s time to pivot the organization for growth, Zolet said, and execute on the growth phase.

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