Talent, future of (tele)work underpin GDIT's strategy

The head of General Dynamics' IT services segment calls out the future of work post-pandemic and specifically telework as directly linked to winning the talent fight and helping agencies with their innovation needs.

The head of one of the federal government’s largest technology contractors sees the future of work post-pandemic and specifically telework as directly linked to talent recruitment and hence helping agencies with their innovation agendas.

Demand from agencies for new technologies is climbing even amid a consensus that they will have tighter budgets, but General Dynamics IT President Amy Gilliland sees those financial constraints as a matter of just putting more onus on and opportunity in front of systems integrators.

Integrators such as GDIT “must reimagine our role” and further emphasize partnerships with the companies whose products or ideas have promise in an agency environment, Gilliland said in recorded remarks on Tuesday to start GDIT’s virtual Emerge 2021 event series.

GDIT therefore has shifted its investment approach to those collaborations and to “focus squarely on the implementation side, which means we have the right skills to deploy commercial products, support and operate them in an agency environment to meet our customers’ objectives,” Gilliland said. “Working with a diverse network of tech companies -- big and small -- we bring commercial technology to government mission, resulting in smarter, more innovative end-to-end solutions.”

Artificial intelligence, automation, 5G and cloud computing infrastructure are among the technologies Gilliland highlighted as in GDIT’s strategy.

What that all means for the future of work is more than just increasing efforts to recruit new talent into the federal technology industry and GDIT itself. Gilliland said internal focus is also paramount for GDIT in winning the battle for human capital.

Going “beyond the Beltway” as Gilliland put it is one path GDIT has increasingly gone down in recent years for its talent strategy and even more so since the acquisition of CSRA three years ago as that company also had a similar emphasis.

“We have thousands of technologists with in-demand skills and certifications in nontraditional locations,” Gilliland said. “We are able to leverage our technology shared services in Louisiana and Kentucky to quickly and efficiently offer our customers top technical capabilities and talent at cost-effective rates.”

Can that posture work in a national security environment that for the most part is not friendly to telework, or pretty much any kind of work outside of the secured facility?

Gilliland said the transition to classified work outside of the office “has been particularly remarkable” during the pandemic when it comes to both secure communication and collaboration.

Keeping that embrace of telework is also crucial for both agencies and industry to help the overall federal technology ecosystem win the talent fight, according to Gilliland.

“Restricted customers are increasingly open to remote work given the needs and desires of their workforce. It is up to industry to deliver the technology to keep it secure,” Gilliland said.

“We have helped numerous restricted customers pivot to telework through next generation networks, secure cloud services and low to high application development capabilities that allow them to meet mission and cyber requirements with confidence.”

But GDIT is far from the only competitor in a still-fragmented federal IT market due to see a nearly $1 billion funding boost for modernization efforts, which was enacted into law as part of the most recent pandemic stimulus package.

Modernization of aged federal IT infrastructure is high on the agenda for the Biden administration and many companies see that area as a great place to be in.

That backdrop gives General Dynamics confidence its IT services and hardware businesses, now put together in a new reporting segment called “Technologies,” will see growth this year after a tough 2020.

Technologies sales fell 5.3 percent last year to $12.6 billion, mostly on impacts related to the coronavirus pandemic and particularly lack of access to federal facilities.

GD sees 4.5-percent growth to $13.2 billion for Technologies this year on ramp-ups for several large programs in the backlog, including the $4.4 billion DEOS cloud email and collaboration tools contract with the Defense Department.

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