It isn’t every day a public sector contractor has a front-row seat to innovation.
But when your parent company is a global IT innovator like NTT DATA, with a client base that spans industries such as health care, banking, insurance and manufacturing, you have two big things on your side: domain expertise and foresight.
Those critical areas of differentiation, in turn, help NTT DATA’s public sector business better address the needs of clients across federal, state and local levels.
That’s especially true when it comes to providing citizen-centric services – safely, cost efficiently and conveniently.
‘Drive to Survive’ Aids Government Customers
“We take a ‘drive to survive’ approach to innovation in the commercial space and reinvest the experience across government sectors,” said Tim Conway, president of NTT DATA’s public sector business.
That crossover approach also occurs across federal, state and local levels.
“We are that bridge that connects what’s going on at the federal level with states and municipalities’ needs,” Conway said. “The work we do with federal criminal justice agencies ultimately benefits the consumer, as some of the same technologies are used to benefit state and local police departments.”
That value-based domain expertise is backed by rigorous research-and-development efforts: NTT DATA invests $2 billion annually in R&D, indicative of the kind of private sector-fueled investments government simply can’t match.
NTT DATA’s technological edge has also been enhanced by its $3.1 billion acquisition of Dell Services in November 2016 – a move Conway calls a “force multiplier,” building on NTT DATA’s advisory consulting expertise, in areas such as application development, innovation, maintenance and modernization, and also includes infrastructure cloud and security solutions.
Robust Innovation Agenda
“We have a pretty robust innovation agenda – we invest in critical areas so our clients don’t have to,” said Shamlan Siddiqi, NTT DATA public sector chief technology officer, noting the parent company’s six core areas of focus, spanning digital experience, data and intelligence, intelligent automation, IoT, cybersecurity and optimization of IT.
The common thread, across all these areas, is IT optimization, automation, data and finally, security, Siddiqi added.
All highly technical stuff, yet for public sector agencies, and end customers especially, the end result is pretty simple.
“Using the latest technologies we focus on how to enhance the lives of the public – we’ve really adopted the mantra, ‘Better IT, Better Government,’” Conway said. “Citizens, at this point, expect to do business with government the way they do business with industry – that’s at their convenience, through their mobile device, creating a ‘connected world’ with government.”
State and local customers experience that focus in one critical way: Fewer frustrations. Or as Siddiqi puts it, “[We’re about] taking the friction out of the customer experience.”
Cities such as Lexington, Kentucky, have benefited from NTT DATA’s work, in “311 implementation,” as just one example. In such cases, citizens can engage directly with the municipality in which they operate by reporting an issue, such as potholes, and thereby hastening a timely repair.
“When a caller reaches a contact center, the latter knows where the caller is located – because of our geospatial capability and mapping integration,” said Siddiqi, noting the capability rests on a Salesforce-based platform. “As part of our future offerings, we are looking at intelligent process automation built into that solution.”
Equally important, Siddiqi added, are efforts to ensure the right caller is paired with the right call center – again, with greater efficiency in mind.
“From a technology standpoint, it is really bringing in capabilities across machine learning, cognitive learning, AI [artificial intelligence]and robotic process automation – these are just a few things we are looking at,” Siddiqi said.
Big Data, Geospatial Technology and Mobility
On the state and local levels, NTT DATA also creates algorithms to better detect crowd patterns (and predict potential acts of violence), as well as preempt everyday frustrations such as traffic inefficiencies.
“We leverage some of the latest in R&D – cognitive foundations for infrastructure, video monitoring, predictive public safety analytics, multisensor analysis, edge computing and micro data centers,” Siddiqi said. “These are all areas of focus, within this particular initiative, which really cross a lot of our R&D buckets.”
“It is really about marrying big data, geospatial technology and mobility, to allow a citizen to interact with their government,” Conway added. “We can look at traffic and try to optimize it, based on the use of unconstrained models, where we can change the timing, and duration, of traffic signals.”
Creating such “immersive experiences,” as Siddiqi calls them, don’t end there. In Rhode Island, for example, NTT DATA has equipped case workers with a tablet mobile application, with a rich-user interface, through which users can input data, and in turn, provide essential services more quickly.
Meanwhile federal customers – the FBI, DEA, ATF, DHS and CDC, among others – are also benefiting from this immersive approach, where technology integration and data analysis meet.
“If we look at the federal level – things like using biometrics to make customs and border protection more effective – it’s being able to provide these services in a way where a person doesn’t necessarily have to complete a form or fill out paperwork,” said Conway, referencing NTT DATA’s multiyear contract with DHS’s Office of Biometric Identity Management.
“We can do [customs and border protection]in an interactive way, through biometrics – it may be through facial recognition and in some cases, fingerprints, for example,” Conway added.
Securing the border also entails validating radar performance, based on GPS coordinates.
“We built a tool that ensures radar systems, within certain areas of the border, are working properly,” Siddiqi said. “That goes to the heart of security – a different type of security – that combines physical with virtual cybersecurity.”
Managed Security Services
A “plethora of data,” as Siddiqi puts it, is often an accompanying challenge, and NTT DATA has the means to analyze it in effective ways, particularly in the midst of the company’s expertise in managed security services.
“We see 40 percent of the world’s internet traffic, because of the size our company, and the number of data centers and the infrastructure that we have,” Conway said. “Our managed services, incident response, penetration testing and cognitive-based monitoring – are all things that we’ve built into our platform and are now being made available to the government.”
To date, NTT DATA has five U.S.-based security operation centers, where support spans not only commercial client needs but that of government clients, too.
“Government security today tends to trail behind industry, but from an NTT standpoint, we’re actually seeing managed security services now becoming one of the fast-growing needs among government customers,” Conway said.
Federal customers, such as the U.S. Air Force, are benefiting from this capability, as well as NTT DATA’s ongoing investment in R&D buckets like IT optimization.
“We are creating total asset visibility across the supply chain, modernizing their [Air Force] legacy architecture, and being able to harness that data for the war fighter … with new open platforms, using open source technologies, the latest relational database technology, as well as integration platforms,” Siddiqi said.
“This gives the war fighter, and the people managing the overarching, integrated supply chain, visibility into operations – the ‘concept of providence,’ if you will,” Siddiqi added.
‘Hottest’ Technologies Ahead
Creating a “trust ecosystem,” as Siddiqi puts it, requires keeping a pulse on new technological frontiers.
That’s already happening as NTT DATA not only watches, but helps pave the way for innovation, in an emerging area of focus: blockchain technology.
“This is one of the hottest topics out there, and we are hearing from federal, as well as state and local, about this need, whether it’s in securing the supply chain, looking at vital records, exchanging energy credits, or monitoring securities and exchange – all of these have been vulnerable in one way or another,” said Siddiqi, noting parent company, the Japan-based NTT DATA, has already completed work on pilot programs for banks testing blockchain capability.
“Blockchain promises to distribute threat vectors, and create a force field so hackers cannot to easily hack into these systems – I think this is a revolutionizing technology that will change the way we do business,” Siddiqi said.
Leveraging new technology frontiers, like blockchain, to strengthen trust-based collaboration – across federal, state and local sectors – is where NTT DATA’s public sector plans to head next.
“Fraud, waste and abuse are always concerns, especially with the continued push toward all things digital; I look at blockchain as a way to foster that digital trust,” Conway said. “I’m excited we’re on the forefront of that, and I think we, as a company, will be part of the solution in defining standards of the future in the technological world.”
Yet another way NTT DATA’s front-row seat to innovation is likely to benefit public sector clients, going forward.