For over two decades, the digital services firm Isobar has produced transformative digital programs for many of the world’s top brands. Although better known for its commercial endeavors, Isobar’s public sector work has also achieved similar ground-breaking results.
As the chief growth officer for Isobar Public Sector, Yancey Hall is focused on bringing much of the firm’s commercial pedigree and digital modernization practices to help government improve the experiences of citizens, employees and the warfighter.
“In the GovCon world, many firms are technology-focused,” Hall said. “We take an experience-based approach to digital transformation, orienting programs around the customer or user experience as our guiding principle, whether that is the citizen, the government employee or the warfighter.”
As part of the dentsu network of integrated agencies, Isobar brings end-to-end capabilities to support public sector digital transformation, such as experience design, data modernization, secure cloud solutions, and application and platform development, along with a skilled team focused on government mission outcomes.
The company uses a data-driven approach involving experience and operational data to understand customer behavior and improve the ways in which users interact and adopt digital technologies.
“I think it’s no secret that experience design, technology and cyber are critical enablers for nearly every agency,” Hall said. “But for modernization programs to stick, we’ve found there’s an essential third pillar around adoption that’s needed. You can build the best, most-advanced systems, but that doesn’t guarantee people will use them.”
As part of the adoption offering, “we put a big emphasis on change management, digital marketing, branding and content to engage end users,” Hall said. “We don’t just build systems for the sake of building systems. This is all about generating measurable change.”
The firm also applies innovation and systems thinking to help federal agencies reduce and optimize their technology footprint.
These days, agencies are overwhelmed and inundated with technology, data and information, Hall said. Instead of upgrading individual solutions one by one, Isobar encourages the use of emerging technology and new modalities to help agencies optimize and rationalize their current stack, saving time and resources.
“Customers come to us for a different perspective, for our next-generation thinking,” Hall said. “Take, for instance, the user experience. Most customers still think about the interface in terms of the mouse and keyboard, where they really need to be thinking about optimizing their applications for voice. That requires a different way of approaching the problems of government.”
Isobar uses these approaches to help the Air Force and the Army modernize many of their key systems and programs. In addition to building mission-applications for the warfighter, Isobar also provides leading-edge capabilities including predictive maintenance, mobile computing, cloud computing and even some augmented-reality and virtual-reality applications.
Hall sees big potential to expand such services to other defense customers and agencies in the civilian sector. His strategy is to leverage the company’s successes thus far to build that narrative.
“Our ambition is to take a lot of the work that we’ve done with the Air Force, as well as in the commercial sector, and apply those best practices to the missions facing many civilian agencies,” he said.
Those agencies need help “not only with modernizing their systems, but with understanding how they can better interact with citizens and with their own employees,” Hall said. “That’s what we are talking to potential customers about, especially with the recent executive order around customer experience.”
In addition to speaking directly to his federal prospects, Hall also devotes his attention to engaging with the broader GovCon community, where shared experiences often equate to business opportunity.
“Being active in industry is super important: being at the right events, being on the right panels to share our story and learn from others,” he said. “It’s a powerful tool we use for getting out in front of the government sector.”
Hall is also looking to partner with other GovCons who may have complimentary expertise.
“We are always interested in finding the right partners to help solve problems,” he said. “We look for talented companies and individuals that may fill a certain niche. And we also have a codified small-business strategy that enables us to team up quite a bit with our small-business partners.”
In fact, Isobar recently created an incubator program specifically to bring together minority-owned, small businesses looking to play in the federal space.
In terms of recruitment and retention, Isobar recognizes the stresses on today’s workforce and the need to give its employees the flexibility to work from home.
“We’re not forcing them to come back into the office and we are definitely moving more toward a virtual workforce,” Hall said. “The pandemic has forced a new expectation in terms of what employees want.”
On a personal level, Hall said his nearly two decades in the public sector have been especially engaging, given the breadth and complexity of the challenges government typically faces.
“In the public sector, the problems that you help to solve are on such a large scale,” he said. “To me, that’s what makes it really exciting. How do you deliver a service to a national populous? That is always an interesting challenge.”