We look forward to a new year and new opportunities for innovation and growth in the government contracting community. This past year, we experienced an increased emphasis on big data, insider threat, merging technology with health care, and the internet of things, among others.
WashingtonExec reached out to those most knowledgeable and experienced in the federal contracting space. We asked executives in and around the Beltway for insight on the direction they see the government contracting community heading in 2018. Topics discussed include M&A activity, public/private sector collaboration, cloud computing, the incoming millennial workforce in defense/IT/health care, talent retention and more.
Next in the series is Andy Zembower, General Dynamics Mission Systems’ vice president of the Encryption Products, Cyber and Electronic Warfare line of business. GD hardware and software products support a wide range of defense, intelligence and federal-civilian customers, and Zembower is responsible for the strategy and performance of GD’s cybersecurity products business. Here are his insights:
Headlining topics over the last couple of years include merging technology with health care, cloud storage, big data, insider threat, and the internet of things, among others. What will be the main topic of interest in 2018?
Protecting data, whether it sits in the cloud or resides on a smartphone. This challenge is not unique to one sector. We know that encryption is both the first and last line of defense in the protection of the enterprise network. We continuously search for improved methods of encryption, whether that data is in transit, at rest, mobile, in the sky and even in space. Having confidence that your data is secure is core to health care, cloud storage, big data, insider threat, and the internet of things.
What concerns you the most when looking ahead at the future of GovCon? What excites you the most?
There is no question that the potential for partnering with companies big and small to address customer needs excites me the most. We are part of an ecosystem that, when we come together, can do great things for the customers and their missions. In some cases, our partners will serve as a channel to markets that need our products. In others, our partners will provide technology or components that are a critical part of a larger offering, where we provide access to new markets and customer sets. The opportunities are endless.
What future collaboration topics and projects should take/will take place between the public, private and academic sectors?
I have seen more opportunities to collaborate across these sectors than ever before. There are a plethora of small businesses and universities in the cybersecurity space. They bring innovation, responsiveness and the risk-tolerant cultures that can make a big impact in the rapidly changing cybersecurity space.
Bigger companies have the ability to absorb risk, deliver on challenging commitments and exercise operational discipline to run large programs. Flexible partnerships that pair the best attributes of small and large businesses based on mission needs will bear the most fruit and provide the greatest benefit.
What’s the most important tool or piece of advice to educating the next generation of defense/IC/IT/health care leaders?
Despite all the technology, it’s important to remember that relationships and how people work together are a critical skill to have and continuously develop. Collaboratively, problem-solving is the way to get things done quickly and effectively. In the end, we need motivated, skilled people with strong leadership skills willing to think in new ways. And leadership skills aren’t limited to the boss. Everyone has an opportunity to lead.