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Nick Wakeman

Watson helps IBM win recompete of Army logistics contract

IBM Corp. has happily won a recompete of an Army logistics contract even though the value of the contract dropped significantly.

Focusing on the value of the Logistics Support Activity contract known as LOGSA misses the point, IBM executive Lisa Mascolo told me. Mascolo is the managing director of U.S. public service for IBM’s Global Business Services group.

IBM won the original contract in 2012 and it was worth $241.5 million over four years at about $60 million a year. The new contract is worth $135 million over three years at about $45 million a year.

Big Blue touted the nearly $15 million per year in savings the Army will reap. But what about IBM?

“The benefit to IBM is that it gets the message out that we are about speed to value,” Mascolo said.

Since the original contract win in 2012, IBM has worked with the customer to reduce costs and those reductions are reflected in the new contract. “We spent a lot of time optimizing their IT,” said Dave Hathaway, vice president of defense and intelligence for IBM GBS.

During the second half of the contract, IBM used Watson for a pilot program to improve the maintenance of Stryker combat vehicle. The pilot eventually involved 300 vehicles or about 10 percent of the Stryker fleet, Hathaway said.

So the new contract also includes more use of Watson as well as cloud computing capabilities, he said. First up, is expanding the Stryker work beyond the pilot.

Just like in health care, Mascolo said there is a growing focus on prevention when it comes to vehicle and fleet maintenance.

Strykers have multiple sensors collecting data on vehicle performance. Across the fleet there is about 5 million data points. That data is downloaded and Watson analyzes it along with other data to predict what maintenance needs to be done and when, Hathaway said.

The Army will use IBM’s Watson IoT services and the Watson IoT Equipment Advisor solution under the new contract. The Army is also looking to use Watson for logistics planning, Hathaway said.

The idea is to better plan where material is located and how it is distributed and transported, including how to ship materials around the world. Hathaway said that determines if it better to go by sea, rail or aircraft, for example.

IBM is looking to continue growing the use of Watson across the government. Hathaway said they are talking to the Air Force about a pilot involving the maintenance of F-16 fighter jets.

About 30 government organizations are using IBM’s cognitive analytics solutions, including Watson, Mascolo said. Examples include the Transportation Security Administration, NASA, HHS, and intelligence agencies. Another 20 agencies are evaluating pilots and projects including the Air Force, FDA and FEMA.

Mascolo said the scope of work is broad “from research to customer service."

She added IBM sees opportunity to help customers manage massive amounts of data, both structured and unstructured, and to use that information to make better decisions and be more efficient.

Whether the size of the contract goes up or down, “our objective is to get our customers to the future faster and cheaper,” Mascolo said. “That increases market share and that is good for our business.”

The Army work under LOGSA will be based in Huntsville, Ala., where IBM late last year won the Army Private Cloud contract. The company is expanding its presence there and will open a new facility in early 2018, Hathaway said.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 06, 2017 at 9:19 AM

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