NCI has a new name and brand

“We’ve come to the point where it makes sense to define ourselves by what we have become rather than as who we were," said CEO Paul Dillahay.

“We’ve come to the point where it makes sense to define ourselves by what we have become rather than as who we were," said CEO Paul Dillahay. Courtesy of Empower AI

The company is retiring its three-decade old identity to bring the focus on what it does today: deliver artificial intelligence solutions.

NCI Information Systems is no more after the company has rebranded and renamed itself to Empower AI.

Giving up that long-held name was not a hard decision, according to CEO Paul Dillahay.

The company has been on a journey for the past five years that has led up to that point. NCI started out by partnering with an artificial intelligence technology firm now known as Olive to bring its as-a-service platform to the federal market.

Other partnerships and strategic moves followed.

“We’ve been investing heavily since 2017 and what has transformed about the business is that we now have 75 percent of our revenue that is AI or AI-enabled,” Dillahay said. “We’ve come to the point where it makes sense to define ourselves by what we have become rather than as who we were."

Reston, Virginia-headquartered NCI has won $1.5 billion in AI-related programs over the past two years, including a potential $807 million task order announced in early 2021 to help the General Services Administration transform its IT infrastructure.

What used to be NCI started its artificial intelligence journey in 2017, through its first big win followed two years later after the company captured the Defense Information Systems Agency's main enterprise IT support contract. After a protest fight, the company began work in late 2019.

That win convinced Dillahay the company was down the right path. It just took longer for the wins to start rolling in than he expected, he said.

As NCI, they marketed their product as Empower AI. The company didn't have to look too far in picking a new name.

Empower AI has also inserted the solutions into its existing work and that has led to additional business. Dillahay’s prime example is seen at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which in September awarded the company a $112 million contract extension on its Comprehensive Error Rate Testing contract.

For that program, the company is deploying solutions robotic process automation and machine learning solutions to support monitoring, measuring and reporting of improper Medicare payments. Empower AI has 20 years of history with CMS.

The shift toward being an AI provider is reflected in other ways as well, Dillahay said.

“We were not an attractive partner to the large systems integrators because we didn’t bring any differentiation,” he said. “But today we partner with all of them. We carve out the AI swim lane and that’s where we can bring key personnel and solutions to the effort.”

Empower AI's workforce looks different as well. Its nearly 1,000 employees are more technical and more diverse than five years ago with 48 percent falling into a diversity category, Dillahay said.

Attrition has also "been below our historical average,” he added.

The company’s AI offering includes three components:

  • Empower AI Works -- a suite of hyper-automation tools that use AI to automate time-consuming tasks.
  • Empower AI Advises -- an AI assistant that works with humans to accelerate decision-making and increase productivity.
  • Empower AI Leads -- A management system that provides mission leaders a view of objectives, projects and tasks updated in real-time.

Amid the new branding rollout, Empower AI is also pointing to a December 2021 Deloitte report on AI’s potential in the government market.

One major finding in that report says 92 percent of CIOs view AI as playing important role in their mission outcomes, but several technology barriers remain.

Dillahay said that because Empower AI delivers its offerings via an as-a-service model, the company believes it can help agencies overcome that technology barrier.

As-a-service, however, doesn’t automatically mean cloud-based. Most of the company’s customers are using an on-premise installation because of particular mission concerns, Dillahay said.

The company will bring new AI and machine learning products to market this summer, which Dillahay said they have developed in-house.

Empower AI aims to help agencies in shortening the decision-making process and bring automation and machine learning into the development process.

“It’s a big transition from where we were before,” he said.

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