Top 25 MarCom Leaders to Watch in 2020: AT&T’s Matt Hickey

Matt Hickey, AT&T

According to Matt Hickey, his team’s greatest accomplishment in 2020 is its response to COVID-19.

“Our public sector customers are on the frontlines of the pandemic, and our commitment to support those that serve has been our No. 1 priority,” Hickey said.

In early March, the organization built and launched a Public Sector COVID-19 Program Management Office to meet the emergent needs of its market. It established weekly open mic calls to field immediate requests and respond in near-real time.

When the CARES Act was signed March 27, Hickey and his team analyzed the 800+ page law and followed all of the funding to support the technology needs of government agencies and education.

“Our primary campaign was to help educate our customers — from schools to elected officials — on the funding, resources, documentation, certifications, timelines and more,” Hickey said.

As funding moved from law to appropriations, they provided daily and weekly updates for the organization’s public sector professionals and external affairs partners to ensure customers and elected officials had all pertinent information.

“Our entire marketing efforts have been focused on resources to assist our customers in their greatest time of need,” Hickey said.

The pandemic has also made the relationships Hickey’s team has made with industry publications across the public sector even more paramount.

“You also need to pivot from traditional advertising methods and focus solely on what your customer needs in 30, 60, 90 days, especially when you are marketing to the public sector,” he said. “Tone, voice and message are essential.”

This includes understanding the necessary ecosystem to stand up dual classrooms — home and school — and how to deliver vital citizen services for government agencies. Delivering solutions to students in their homes was something that had not been done by schools previously, so it was all new territory.

Since March, Hickey’s team has launched several unlimited wireless data offers for all public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities to ensure students can continue to learn and thrive.

“We’ve included content-filtering solutions in our education offers to help schools protect the children in their care,” he said. “This service allows school administrators to manage the internet sites their students can access to help protect them from unsafe content and to block malicious sites, malware and hacking attempts.”

Plus, they have accelerated provisioning from months to days/weeks for defense and federal agencies to support remote work and increased network capacity to meet citizen demand. They have also launched a video intelligence solution that includes near real-time reporting and actionable alerts, including thermal analytics to detect elevated temperatures and continuity of operations analytics for people counting and occupancy, social distance monitoring and more.

Why Watch

To be successful will require the move from stimulus to sustainability, Hickey said. There are incredible lessons learned that need to become best practices in the years ahead.

“This is our new reality,” he added.

The wide disbursement of the federal workforce will drive the continued need for highly secure seamless solutions. The increase in endpoints and massive datasets will demand bandwidth and analytics closer to the edge. Modernization is no longer a luxury; it has become the new necessity.

“While the digital divide is not new, the opportunity to close the gap is,” Hickey said. “We are committed to leading the future for students, for educators and in technology. “From crisis comes innovation, and we intend to be on the forefront — supporting the public sector — every step of the way.”

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