2014 Market Outlook: Gary Shiffman of Giant Oak Says Data Analytic Tools Will Save the Year

Gary Shiffman, CEO & President, Gian Oak

Gary Shiffman, CEO & President, Giant Oak

2014 – WashingtonExec Annual Market Outlook Series

As we turn the page on 2013, we look forward to a new year and new opportunities for innovation and growth in the government contracting community. This past year we experienced budget sequestration, a 16-day-long government shutdown, and a perpetually increasing focus on cyber security and healthcare IT.

WashingtonExec reached out to those most knowledgeable and experienced individuals in the federal contracting space. We asked executives in and around the beltway for insight regarding where they see the government contracting community headed in 2014. Topics discussed include M&A activity, cloud computing, healthcare IT, defense, mobility, and more.

Gary Shiffman is a Georgetown University Center for Security Studies professor and the president and chief executive officer at Giant Oak — a firm that employs social science driven data analytics to identify illicit networks and actors. He channeled his background in human behavior in the national security context to launch the data analytics company and expects 2014 will bread a government contracting market hungry for data analytics. Three observations led him to his prediction:

“I expect 2014 will be a difficult year for government contracting in general, but I see the appetite for data analytics to be unquenchable for at least the next five years. The sanguine perspective is based upon three observations.

First, over the past five years data creation (“big data”) has fed significant advances in data storage and fusion, as well as good progress in data visualization.  Second, in spite of these advances, the market has failed to deliver value because of a failure to deliver analytics; we are in the trough of despair because hype exceeded the return on investment; so, either data is a dud, or analytic tools will save the day. Third, advances in analytics will be both quantitative and qualitative, and because not many people can make qualitative advances — picture the mythical all powerful data scientist — this is difficult and takes time. The proverbial “soccer ball” for 2014 will be “analytics,” at it will be chased.

IT budgets will not improve, but M&A will. Competitive markets love challenges–they drive efficiencies and cause participants to produce innovation. With missions growing and budges shrinking, our customers want to purchase efficiency, not computers. I expect order of magnitude improvements in efficiency from data analysis, and cost savings on infrastructure, over the next five years. So look for the acquisition of innovation.


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