How will DXC-Vencore-KeyPoint combo attack the market?

A lot is known about the "why" behind the merger of DXC Technology's U.S. government business, Vencore and KeyPoint. But "how" will this future company compete in the federal market after it launches?

DXC Technology’s plan to create a new government contractor through the spinoff and merger of its U.S. public sector business with Vencore and KeyPoint Government Solutions answered some questions and raised others as well.

We first answered the “what” with our report on the initial details late Wednesday night. Then I listened to DXC CEO Mike Lawrie’s explanation to Wall Street on the “why”. And my editor (read boss) Nick Wakeman gave the history of each business – the “who” -- being rolled up into this new $4.3 billion-revenue federal market giant.

Which all leads naturally to the next question: “how” this new IT and professional services provider will attack the marketplace once it launches next year. That road could be tricky to navigate given the work to integrate all three businesses being a critical matter of importance to its success, according to one federal market analyst.

In particular, the potential “cultural mismatch” of DXC’s civilian-heavy enterprise IT business with Vencore’s higher-end technology services portfolio in national security and science agencies puts the new company at a “strategic crossroads,” Technology Business Research public sector IT analyst Joey Cresta wrote in an analysis report Thursday.

That said, Vencore’s portfolio of classified work in the defense and intelligence communities for instance gives the new company “opportunity to plot a new course across a diverse vendor set, often in areas with higher barriers to entry and less competition from other enterprise-focused vendors,” according to Cresta.

DXC’s U.S. government business, Vencore and KeyPoint are coming together in a market that has seen commercially oriented IT companies increasingly enter the fray and agencies increasingly use price as its key factor in contracts for staff-oriented services that it sees as commoditized.

From that shift came moves by large government services contractors to add weight through acquisitions. CACI International’s buy of the former L-3 NSS, Science Applications International Corp.’s addition of Scitor and Engility Corp.’s move for TASC all added scale for the buyers. The deals also added new work with intelligence agencies for the acquirers, which fulfills the usual "new customer" mandate for buyers.

And then  defense hardware contractors like Raytheon -- as they explained in our Top 100 series -- and Northrop Grumman for example have either stayed focused on or repositioned their services businesses to more specialized areas such as cybersecurity and data analytics to help maintain their margins.

Others like Lockheed Martin, Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies have decided to divest their services businesses over the past two years and focus on their higher-margin platforms.

The continued participation of Vencore’s owners Veritas Capital in the new company could help guide it in a more specialized direction, according to Cresta. Veritas’ portfolio includes other government technology services providers in Alion Science and Technology Corp. and Peraton, the former Harris IT business.

The new company will face a big test when the Navy awards the recompete of its Next Generation Enterprise Network contract sometime in 2018. NGEN accounts for 11 percent of DXC’s total corporate revenues. And Deltek data indicates NGEN represented nearly 35 percent of DXC’s almost $2 billion in unclassified federal prime contracts in the government’s 2016 fiscal year.

Vencore’s focus areas in cyber and analytics for instance could help the new company keep that contract, Cresta noted.

And then there is the addition of background investigative service provider KeyPoint into this three-way merger.

Loveland, Colo.-based KeyPoint is one of four companies alongside CACI, CSRA and Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services the Office of Personnel management awarded contracts to in 2016 for services to support background investigations of those seeking security clearances.

KeyPoint could benefit from DXC’s digital transformation-focused services that involve automation and cloud tools, according to Cresta.

DXC has clearly stated its rationale for exiting government IT: mainly to fulfill its mandate on shareholder value as a publicly traded company.

By that same token, the new company's CEO in Mac Curtis and Chief Operating Officer in Marilyn Crouther have the responsibility to articulate their strategy and goals as the March 2018 closure date approaches.

And this new company will have to answer to the public markets as well.

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