Inside General Dynamics IT's 'Digital Accelerators' initiative

Tom Oliver leads GDIT's digital consulting and solutions practice.

Tom Oliver leads GDIT's digital consulting and solutions practice. General Dynamics

The company's strategy for focusing on some of the federal market's hottest technology priorities helped net close to $2 billion in contract awards for 2023.

In 2022, General Dynamics IT created a set of what it now calls “Digital Accelerators” to build expertise and solutions around specific technologies.

Zero trust, operational artificial intelligence, 5G, multi-cloud management and cybersecurity are included in that.

As 2023 came to a close, the company announced $2 billion in awards that it tied back to those accelerators.

"These are investments we are making to build tools and solutions and they accelerate our ability to deliver for our customers,” said Tom Oliver, GDIT’s vice president of digital consulting and solutions.

GDIT uses the accelerators as a showcase to demonstrate its solutions for customers, who then bring their problems forward to get a sense of the possible.

“During the design process it helps our teams understand quickly what technologies to use and what architecture is needed,” Oliver said.

This type of show-and-tell with customers occurs a year or more ahead of when a solicitation appears.

“It can validate our thinking and our approach,” Oliver said.

Wins are an ultimate validation. In August, GDIT won a $712 million recompete contract to continue network infrastructure modernization work at the Homeland Security Department’s St. Elizabeth’s Campus in Washington, D.C. This project will integrate 5G, zero trust and AI.

GDIT also secured a $450 million contract to use AI and zero trust for an effort to help the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services upgrade accounting systems.

A third contract GDIT points to is an $18 million Other Transaction Authority win that tasks the company to bring zero trust, AI and software factory capabilities to Space Force.

Oliver said customer conversations drove GDIT to pick its eight technology focus areas – AI, 5G, software factory, defensive cyber, hybrid multi-cloud, and post-quantum cryptography.

GDIT will launch a ninth area in 2024, which will be digital engineering.

“We spend a lot of time talking to our customers. We had over 100 customer engagements last year where we were talking about the accelerators and discussing the digital modernization needs of our customers,” Oliver said. “It’s a great way to validate what we are doing and explore where we may need to go.”

The digital accelerators also bring together employees with different roles and responsibilities to see what the broader company capabilities are and how to use those capabilities, he said.

Along with customer feedback, the involvement of people across GDIT also informs where the digital accelerators are going.

“We have a motto of ‘For the business, by the business,’” Oliver said. “That means no single organization makes the decisions on our technology investments.”

GDIT brings together people from across the broader organization to make investment decisions together. That results in more interaction between customer-facing divisions, the growth team and chief technology officer organization.

“There is always more that we want to do so it’s important to have a governance structure,” Oliver said.

The decision to make digital engineering another accelerator came from GDIT’s defense business because the military increasingly wants model-based systems engineering capabilities.

“We are seeing that in some of our other customers in federal civilian who want to apply those capabilities to complex systems,” he said.

The digital accelerators also feed into GDIT’s push to bring more of a consultative approach to the business.

Oliver leads a group of digital consultants out of the CTO organization. There are also consultants embedded with the lines of business.

“Those folks are helping to build the accelerators and they are on the front lines talking to customers,” Oliver said. “This isn’t about dropping something shrink wrapped with the customers. This about having a conversation and seeing the needs.”

It is a different kind of conversation because it isn’t a sales pitch. The consultants can get down in the weeds of a solution but they also have a more strategic view of the customer’s mission and needs, he said.

Oliver wouldn’t comment on a revenue goal for 2024 to continue the momentum from 2023.

“There is no specific target I can share, but I do expect to see continued growth,” he said.