Booz Allen sees future rich with VR, machine learning opportunities

Booz Allen might be a 104-year-old firm but its strategy is focused on being leading edge in areas such as virtual reality and machine learning.

Though Booz Allen Hamilton may be a 104-year-old company, it still views itself on the forefront of the future.

“We kind of built the management consulting business, so when we think about our clients’ problems, we come at it from a consultative approach,” said Gary Labovich, a Booz Allen executive vice president. “We’re not just providing a bunch of bodies, we’re actually adding value, and we’re thinking about the business problem.”

The Booz Allen legacy is a major factor that has driven the company’s success, said Labovich. The McLean, Virginia-based company holds the No. 6 spot on this year’s Top 100 list with $4.1 billion in prime federal contracts.

One of the many highlights for the organization this year was in February when the Food and Drug Administration named Booz Allen Hamilton an awardee of a $300 million contract to modernize the human drug review process.

“We were asked to come in and look at some of their models and protocols and then actually try and build some analytical models to try and help them provide a little more insight into that and what their results are,” Labovich said.

The company was well positioned to take on a contract as large as this one because of its flourishing health business, said Labovich. Booz Allen has a combination of doctors, nurses, medical professionals and former government officials on staff to offer a complete understanding of the FDA’s needs.

But what makes Booz Allen really stand out from its competitors, Labovich said, is its commitment to the project even after the work has been completed.

“One of the big challenges I’ve seen in this business over the many years I’ve been in it is sometimes technology is presented but the user community isn’t that interested in using it,” he said.

To combat this problem, the business uses organization management techniques to ensure that its system is fully adopted so the client gets the complete value.

This extra attention to detail will make Booz Allen Hamilton even more successful in the coming years, Labovich said.

“Everybody is aware of what’s changing in technology, but what’s going to differentiate us is that we are in very deep with our clients,” he said. “We know their mission better than most, and we understand the challenges they have today with their business processes.”

Looking forward, Booz Allen is focused on targeting the cloud and the digital consumer. The company is currently helping clients move critical processes to the cloud, so they can take advantage of the increased security as well as economic and operational benefits. 

The company is also making big investments in virtual reality. Booz Allen is conducting work to help the Defense Department use virtual reality technology to train troops, “as a way to help troops get prepared to deal with the challenges of modern warfare,” he said.

Within the next two years, Labovich predicts machine-learning technology will become a “game changer” for every government agency.

“We’re seeing a lot of energy in our client base around an eagerness to learn more, and do some piloting around how to apply that technology, and we think that’s going to be a big play for us,” he said.

Right now, the firm has made big investments in testing machine-learning technology, which could accelerate intelligent analysis and automate routine processes.

Merger and acquisitions continue to be an important growth strategy for the company as well, said Labovich. In October, Booz Allen acquired Ohio-based Morphick, a leader in managed detection and response services. This acquisition helped to expand Booz Allen’s managed security portfolio and strengthened its capabilities to counter cyber threats, according to a release from the company.

“Our strategy is one for which we are looking to add capability to our existing portfolio,” Labovich said. “We’re always on the lookout for good quality companies that meet that kind of criteria.”

Although Booz Allen has made investments in a number of different technology areas, the company has also made a constant investment into its employees.

“We have, we believe, the best talent in the business,” said Labovich. “We love our people.”

To bolster the company culture, Booz Allen has added a purpose statement, which includes five values: unflinching courage, passionate service, ferocious integrity, collective ingenuity and champion’s heart.

“It’s really become a transformative culture at Booz Allen now to think about these and putting it into practice each and every day,” Labovich said, “and I think that’s what will make us successful in fiscal 2019 if not more than fiscal 2018.”