WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Levers of change that drive the market forward

In our WT Power Breakfast on Friday, ACT-IAC CEO Dave Wennergren opened the Evolving Role of Systems Integrators topic with his take on five technology areas and five levers of change.

Even in looking only at the list of technologies, you can see some of the major trends in the market.

Here is Wennergren’s list of technology areas:

  • IT Modernization
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data
  • Digital Transformation
  • Emerging Technologies

Now for his five levers of change:

  • Innovation
  • Acquisition
  • Workforce
  • Financial management
  • Customer intimacy

I won't look through what he said under each point but will explore a few things that stood out. Next week, I should be able to post a live recording of the Power Breakfast.

I’ll start with the Acquisition lever of change. Wennergren sees an acquisition system that overall needs to do better. The government has to buy smarter.

“We need to demand more. The easiest approach isn’t always the best approach,” he said.

Acquisition needs to encourage innovation and encourage the adoption of commercial best practices, Wennergren said.

During his time as civilian Navy IT executive, Wennergren helped develop the original Navy-Marine Corps Intranet contract that was awarded to EDS in 2000. That was a commercially-managed services contract. His point was that the regulatory tools are there for agencies to buy commercial services.

He also talked about the surge in the use of Other Transaction Authority contracts. “These are a revolt against how long it takes to award contracts,” Wennergren said.

In the panel discussion that followed, EverWatch CEO John Hillen called the rise of OTAs a “cry for help.”

Because of how agencies have moved more contracting buying to government-wide vehicles, Wennergren said contractors face the challenge of having a contracting officer at one agency while the program manager is at another agency.

This organizational separation can put a gap between contracting officers and program managers. That is one reason why customer intimacy is so important and contractors to cultivate close ties with their contracting officer and the program manager, he said.

Another lever of change that stood out to me is what he said about Financial Management. This is critical because we are in an era of budget uncertainty. Pretty much every fiscal year features continuing resolutions and government shutdowns have become more common.

We’ve lived with this for several years, but this year's challenge is compounded because of the pandemic, an economy in recession and a coming election.

“Everybody has to be ready for that and you have to think through how can I survive and thrive in a world with these uncertainties,” he said.

This environment is driving the use of DevOps and other modular ways of delivering solutions such as experiments and pilots.

“These allow for things to be delivered more quickly and how success and build enthusiasm,” he said.

Check back next week and we’ll have more from our event, including insights from our industry panel that along with Hillen included Judi Dotson, an executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton's national security business; and Scott Buchholtz, chief technology officer for Deloitte Consulting's government and public services division.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:44 PM


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