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 Satya Akula, president and CEO of Amyx, Inc. Akula was the founder and president of the award-winning company AC Technologies Inc., before coming to Amyx, a leading IT and program management services provider to the federal government. Here are his insights:
Waves of emerging technologies come in more often than we think, but adopting those in the GovCon space takes longer than one expects because of the complex nature of many factors, none more so than acquisition. Cloud migration, cybersecurity, big data, among others, have been present for some time and continue to be the focus of many federal agencies from an adoption and integration perspective.
New technologies, such as blockchain, natural language processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning are now emerging in nonfederal industries — with several applications across multiple verticals. Every federal chief information officer will consider these new technologies in their strategies and vision, but the issue of acquisition remains constant. The GovCon industry is accommodating these in their go-to-market plan by looking for easy ways to implement and show a high return on investment.
Time will tell whether government strategies, such as the use of Other Transaction Authority contracts, will help accelerate technology adoption, but it is clear there is a desire from the government to have the industry assist in facilitating innovation.
Additional areas of focus include voice based applications in the cloud and in the consumer space, which we see daily. When it comes to the GovCon arena, these leading-edge technologies will have a major impact in 2018 and beyond.
Additionally, we are also seeing a strong push from the White House and Congress on modernizing our aging infrastructure, which will inherently introduce opportunities for GovCon to support. Not only will we be called upon through RFQs to advance our nation’s highways, waterways, electrical and airway systems, but also to leverage IT innovations as a critical enabler of these objectives. This will open opportunities in systems modernization, cybersecurity, project management and other areas of IT we have historically supported.
The new corporate tax laws will have a major impact on the government contracting industry, especially with regards to M&A activity. We are talking about a major 20+ percent tax advantage to corporations, depending on the pass-through entity or not. I am sure the investment banking industry and corporate development groups are running several sophisticated financial models to take advantage of the new tax laws. I see more M&A activity in general!
We have not seen the end of Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable, or LPTA, or alternative flavors of it yet. Among prominent recent examples is DISA ENCORE III, a major IT IDIQ, that was evaluated on an LPTA basis. Other issues that remain include the retention of talented and experienced leaders who have significant experience in the federal market. It is our belief the market still shies away from experience in the nonfederal space, as evidenced in key personnel requirements across federal RFQs. This is further exacerbated by the difficulty in obtaining appropriate security clearances for folks who bring new talent, but not the correct client or market experience.
Amyx has a long-term strategic plan in place, with annual reviews that consider such factors as the administration’s priorities, and changes in the landscape of the market and leadership. Additional factors include competition within the GovCon industry, its investment on internal infrastructure, leading-edge technologies, business development resources, leadership and talent.
We stick to our strategic plan with minor tactical variations as we foresee continued growth in our target agencies and core competencies, such as cybersecurity. The current administration has taken important steps toward strengthening our nation’s commitment to cybersecurity, and we’re excited at the opportunity to help our clients continue to mature their processes, technologies and strengthen their workforce.
As for legacy infrastructure, we have migrated all our internal IT tools to the cloud and it have seen flawless performance. It aids in our company agility and supports our growth in the last two to three years.
My main concern remains LPTA. Despite new guidelines that were established in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act regarding the use of LPTA and the negative impact seen by buying agencies, in many cases, it has not flowed down to the task order or contract level. Regarding what is most exciting, it is the proliferation of leading-edge technologies like blockchain, AI and others in the GovCon industry for any CEO, especially for those with technical backgrounds.
For the next generation of leaders to be successful, I would encourage and advise them to think about what is most important to the workforce — whether it is millennials or GenX. I am personally excited to work with the new generation of our workforce — as I have seen that they are extremely smart, hardworking and motivated by different factors and the efficiency with which they utilize technology tools.
I personally learn by closely working with them and adjusting my leadership to fit the new culture. The leaders in both the federal and GovCon space look at the future workforce, and adjust their governing policies to cater to their needs. For example, in integration of new technologies — if you put too many hurdles, too much emphasis on regulation and bureaucracy, too long to implement — we may be stuck in the 20th century if we cannot hire new talent to carry us forward.