WashingtonExec has reached out to leading govcon cloud executives about the latest trends in a post-pandemic world. These interviews highlight success stories that resonate, discuss how organizations are navigating current challenges, and provide insight into lessons learned.
Jacqui Nevils, vice president and chief information officer for L3Harris Technologies, shares her thoughts below.
What were some of this year’s biggest digital transformation challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest digital transformation challenge ⏤ and in my opinion the one most companies embarking on an enterprise digital transformation initiative also will face ⏤ is the unavoidable competition between these new transformation initiatives and the day-to-day operations of IT. This competition isn’t just around budget but also resources, mind share, and above all, time.
In the case of L3Harris, things are further complicated by our 2019 merger in that we continue to integrate and optimize our core infrastructure and collaboration platforms. Unfortunately, you can’t hit pause on operations while you work on your digital transformation, nor can you afford to defer digital transformation to allow you to cleanly finish integration, modernize your environments, remove technical debt, etc.
So, our biggest challenge was the need to have a dual focus and balance. And all the while, let’s not forget our cybersecurity compliance and defense-in-depth posture must remain at the highest levels.
Did the pandemic accelerate digital transformation efforts in your organization or with customers? If so, how did you/your team approach this, and how did cloud play a role?
The pandemic had an interesting effect on digital transformation. On one hand, the overnight pivot to fully remote work for a good portion of the workforce certainly accelerated some aspects of digital transformation. Areas like remote access, video conferencing, multiparty authoring and collaboration among others saw initiatives that would have taken months completed in a few weeks.
It also caused the accelerated adoption of cloud technologies, often the only way we could quickly react to that new demand. Redirecting our resources to react to this sudden, increased demand meant reprioritizing some of the digital transformation initiatives from engineering and manufacturing to accelerate the sales inventory and operations planning, supply chain and analytics initiatives.
What are some of the biggest digital transformation trends you are anticipating for the remainder of this year, and into 2023?
This year, the “digital thread/digital twin” rose from hype to reality. Like many peers and partners, we defined digital concepts, use cases, business cases, enterprise architecture, data requirements and clear roadmaps for implementation.
I anticipate this will accelerate the momentum around end-to-end digital initiatives in all functional areas. I believe in 2023 we will see further maturity, particularly in this space.
Are you/your team spearheading any major digital transformation initiatives at the moment? If so, can you explain?
We see ourselves at L3Harris as the industry’s trusted disruptor. As a trusted partner for the Department of Defense, we possess the size and skill to manage and deliver on large programs. But we’ve also retained the disruptive qualities that enable us to integrate mission systems on a crop duster and anti-drone capabilities in the back of a pickup truck.
As such, we need to be at the forefront of modern technologies and trends, digital included. Our teams are currently engaged in transformation initiatives across the entire value chain from engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, finance and, of course, IT. That’s in addition to automation and analytics solutions across the company. It’s pretty busy in L3Harris IT these days.
What are you most passionate about enhancing cloud-wise in your organization going forward for internal teams and/or for customers?
Cloud, adopted properly, is a game changer. For example, we changed our backup and disaster recovery strategy to use our hybrid cloud. Overall, this is much more efficient, but for L3Harris, it was a complete paradigm shift. We are headquartered in Florida, and hurricane preparation is a major part of our internal processes. Adopting cloud cut the prep time and travel needs by over 80%.
Another great internal example is our automated DevOps pipeline provisioning. We stand up dozens of DevOps labs every quarter, traditionally requiring up to two weeks and four different IT groups to complete the task. Using our cloud, we can now deploy fully connected DevOps pipelines in just over an hour.
Additionally, I cannot put a price on the value of the cloud regarding collaboration among and within our programs and external customers. Using cloud capabilities, we’ve been able to reduce both complexity and cost ⏤ and that’s been a game-changer for us, providing certain services at minimal cost and in expedited timeframes.
Finally, we have exciting AI and machine learning collaborations right now on a major government cloud provider; it is a trend that I anticipate will mushroom.