Mark Abel is the founder and president of Castlemar Consulting, an advisory and business services firm that specializes in client engagement, program development, and corporate branding initiatives. A valued member of the federal contracting community, Abel has held executive positions with leading technology firms and brings a broad background in technology, engineering, and science disciplines. Abel recently answered a few questions for WashingtonExec about his new firm, and the changes taking place in the marketplace.
WashingtonExec: You have recently started Castlemar Consulting. How is it going and what are your future plans?
Mark Abel: The business is going well. Castlemar is still in the formulative stages, and we are working to define our core offerings. Today we offer traditional business development life cycle management; in the future we may add branding, marketing communications, and competitive analysis to the mix.
WashingtonExec: What do you see as changes in the marketplace that will impact the industry?
Mark Abel: We are currently in a “hyper-competitive” market environment, and coupled with the economic uncertainly and declining budgets, contractors need to hire the best and brightest to compete and grow. They also need to differentiate themselves to the customer and offer solutions to improve performance at lower cost. Winning requires new business models, not just bidding labor at the lowest cost.
I also see a change in the way services will be provided to the government, tied to the transition toward cloud-based platforms and the use of wireless devices. This requires companies to offer innovation and value that changes the way work is performed, exploiting platform strategies to offer new and better delivery methods. We are moving toward the post-pc era, and industry needs to lead the government toward that future.
WashingtonExec: The federal contracting market is highly competitive. How do you think companies can differentiate themselves?
Mark Abel: The short answer is to offer unique, value-added solutions that meet the customer’s needs. Recall the old saying, “build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” The reality is that if the customer does not know that you have a better mousetrap, the value is lost. So the key is not only having a better mousetrap, but making sure that the customer is aware of it and has the opportunity to select it. This feeds back to branding of the company and its’ solutions. In the current environment, companies need to brand their capabilities, solutions and offerings more than ever to discriminate themselves and stand out in the crowd.
WashingtonExec: Do you see the future as bleak or bright?
Mark Abel: The future is definitely bright. Technology is the enabler of improved mission performance. It is exciting to watch how these revolutionary shifts in technology will change the engagement model between the government and its citizens.