We look forward to the new year and new opportunities for innovation and growth in the government contracting community. This past year, the public and private sectors both experienced more emphasis and demand for cybersecurity, merging technology with health care, and how to best mitigate the insider threat.
As a part of an annual series, 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 in the industry. Topics discussed include M&A activity, public/private sector collaboration, cloud computing migration, the incoming millennial workforce in defense/IT/health care, talent retention and more.
Next in the series is SE Solutions President and Chief Operating Officer John Wayne on cybersecurity growth and legacy application migration to the cloud.
2019 is off to a challenging start with the longest government shutdown since 2013. Because of an expected surge in acquisitions this year and new legislation such as the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018, government contractors will spend significant time evaluating the evolving competitive landscape.
The current political climate could also bring budget challenges impacting the start of large, new initiatives. And in addition, the already-low D.C.-area unemployment rate combined with Amazon’s new HQ plan to hire roughly 25,000 workers, will strain the ability to hire and retain IT talent.
Acquisitions to support cloud will continue to rise, with an increase in “cloud native” application development. While the “lift-and-shift” approach to migrating legacy applications will continue, we will see an increase in the budget for enterprisewide cloud service platforms, consolidation of the one-off cloud infrastructure contracts, and a focus on building applications to leverage cloud infrastructure capabilities (cloud native).
I also expect to see an uptick in cloud and cloud security architecture; where multicloud strategies will be developed and customers will leverage trusted partners to align contracts and SLAs to the organization’s goals.
Cybersecurity will also see further growth in 2019, as IT attacks continue to pose significant personal and financial threats to Americans. On Dec. 29, the United States had a multistate disruption of 911 services. There was immediate speculation of the outage being caused by hackers, and although it would not be the first time 911 services were disrupted by hackers, it would be the largest scale to date.
As we increasingly rely on technology and continue to embed it into our daily lives (including devices with built-in webcams and microphones), we increase our susceptibility to attack. Therefore, we will continue to see an increase in cybersecurity defense and monitoring capabilities, especially for critical infrastructure and internet-connected smart devices.
While I see cloud and cybersecurity increases — and the rise of DevSecOps contracts where development, operations and security services are bundled together — I also expect to see a decrease in support for legacy systems. Chief information officers are dealing with budget constraints, and those we support within the departments of Homeland Security and Agriculture are looking to make forward-leaning choices to invest in the future and move off legacy technology systems.
Acquisition policy reform, specifically the evaluation process and lead time, will play an increasingly important role in optimizing process efficiencies. Video and demo-based evaluation approach and scoring model techniques (like the Alliant II scoring model) will help reduce/replace voluminous technical write-ups.
In addition, a more streamlined approach could minimize the low-price bidder through the deployment of phased evaluations that focus on true technical merit first followed by demonstrated past performance.
So, as 2019 unfolds and with both the challenges and opportunities previously identified above, it will be critical for the next generation of defense/intelligence community/IT/health care leaders to have a firm grasp on the following:
- building a diverse selection of teaming partners with a low percentage of qualifications overlap
- developing core capabilities as a priority to focus directly on core client target markets before going too broad
- clearly understanding the roles and responsibilities in the various, increasingly used cloud delivery models
- attracting, developing and retaining high-caliber talent both in technical and acquisition positions, and
- creating a positive, nimble culture to successfully navigate the fast-paced, evolving landscape.