Bill Lochten, Vice President of Software AG Government Solutions, knew he was destined for the government contracting industry when he sat down for his first computer science class in college.
With 25 years in the IT industry, Lochten is now responsible for the overall management and direction of Software AG’s sales organization with its U.S. federal government clients and strategic business partners. He began his career as a software salesman at 3M Company after earning a degree in business administration from Salisbury University. He later received a Masters of Business Administration at the University of Maryland. Lochten credits much of his success to the invaluable mentorship and training that he received during his career.
WashingtonExec recently caught up with Lochten to discuss his perspective on the changing IT industry, his humble beginnings, and the innovations happening at Software AG Government Solutions.
WashingtonExec: Tell us about your background and current role with Software AG Government Solutions?
Bill Lochten: I am the Vice President for our sales division at Software AG Government Solutions. My team and I work with our customers and partners to be successful in the application of our software and consulting services. We’re perhaps best known for our integration and middleware solutions. WebMethods continues to be recognized as the leading software for handling the most complex integration requirements that our federal government customers have. WebMethods simplifies those processes and provides customers access to the information they need when they need it. And many people are familiar with Software AG through our acquisition of Terracotta, an innovator in the area of Big Data, Analytics and Visualization. Simply put, Terracotta delivers microsecond access to hundreds of terabytes of in-memory data, predictably and with ultra-high availability. In addition to the huge improvements in application performance, Terracotta can reduce the overall footprint of hardware and software in federal data centers. Most of my time is spent either directly interfacing with our customers or supporting the activities that will help them be successful with our software. It is an exciting job from the standpoint of being routinely in front of our customers, learning about their challenges and the kinds of things that they are trying to achieve.
“A recent Aruba Networks survey pointed out that nearly two-thirds of the polled US BYOD workers fear for a loss of their personal data but only 36 percent of those workers said that they would report data leaks right away.”
WashingtonExec: You have 25 years of industry experience with enterprise software and information services companies. Did you always know that you wanted to work in the government contracting industry?
Bill Lochten: I did. From the very first computer sciences course that I took in college, I knew that I wanted to work in this industry. It was new and exciting technology. The PC was evolving at lightning speed and so was the software that automated the work. I was fortunate. Soon after I graduated from college, I landed a job selling imaging and document management software to federal government customers. I received excellent training and mentorship early in my career. I learned a lot about the IT industry, mainframes and open systems, hardware and software applications beyond what my company sold. It gave me a different perspective. And I’m still learning from my team and from my customers. I’m just as curious today as to how things work. I’ve been privileged to work with really smart and gifted people that help keep the work interesting and rewarding for me.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see the balance between bringing innovation to government and maintaining current cyber security standards & privacy standards? What particular data security safeguards should be in place in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment?
Bill Lochten: Many of our government customers are struggling to provide their staff with access to the latest and most effective technology without increasing their agency’s exposure to risk. The Chief Security Officer (CSO) has to make tough decisions about which applications can be accessed with BYOD, and what information qualifies as confidential. It’s not easy. A recent Aruba Networks survey pointed out that nearly two-thirds of the polled US BYOD workers fear for a loss of their personal data but only 36 percent of those workers said that they would report data leaks right away. It speaks to the real need for MDMS (Mobile Device Management Systems) that can enable an administrator to perform such tasks as remotely wiping a device clean if it is lost or stolen. I also think that there’s a need for training and education within the government, as well as in private industry. Employees that are entrusted with remote access to agency systems with their own devices need guidelines about how to effectively do so while minimizing the risk to their employer. That is one of the things that Software AG Government Solutions has implemented because of our extensive work with the DOD and the Intelligence Community.
“There has been a constant evolution of mobile devices and a ubiquitous, instantaneous availability of information. The expectations from our government customers have been heightened, so they naturally expect more from their vendors.”
WashingtonExec: What do you view as the biggest change to the government contracting industry since you first entered the sector?
Bill Lochten: I think the government customers today expect more from their IT vendors and their products than ever before. In many instances, expectations have been fueled by their personal experiences with technology. There has been a constant evolution of mobile devices and a ubiquitous, instantaneous availability of information. The expectations from our government customers have been heightened, so they naturally expect more from their vendors. Another area of change is that the contracting professionals that we interact with are more knowledgeable about the IT industry and our products. Many of them have worked in the private sector before and can relate more closely with the vendors. And there seems to be a little more willingness to structure value-based contracts and agreements. As vendors and suppliers, we’re expected to take on more risks than in the past. In many cases, the large dollar, multi-year implementations of the past have been replaced with a less risky and more iterative programatic approach.
WashingtonExec: Do you think the big issue with implementing new technology is a cultural issue or a technology issue?
Bill Lochten: I think it is more about policy than it is technology. Many of the unresolved issues are political in nature and involve the “ownership” of the data. In most cases, there is a commercially-available technology solution that can address the problem. A lot of vendors have been able to come up with innovative ways to make information accessible and secure. But the real and perceived risks associated with expanding access to data can intimidate IT professionals into delaying the implementation of these solutions. It’s less and less about whether there are proven technologies that will make me feel comfortable that my data is not at risk, even if my device is stolen or lost. I believe it has more to do with the comfort level that our government leaders have in determining if they trust certain information to be released at a certain point and if they have built in the necessary safeguards.
WashingtonExec: As a DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia) native, what is your favorite spot in the area?
Bill Lochten: My preference is the beach. We have a place on the Eastern Shore that we go to as often as possible. It’s great that we’re only a few hours away from the ocean.