David Wennergren is the senior vice president of technology policy at the Professional Services Council and a former assistant deputy chief management officer at the Defense Department. ()
The pace of change in the technology marketplace is relentless. Every day, new technologies, approaches and applications are introduced that will change the way we live, work and play. This dizzying array of choices and new ways of doing business are creating both opportunities and challenges for government organizations. Two things are certain: Information technology is firmly woven into every mission across both government and industry, and the incredible array of available options and opportunities is causing a significant re-thinking of how government organizations will procure technology services and solutions.
The ability to acquire capabilities “on demand,” like cloud computing, is changing buying patterns. The ever-increasing thirst for mobile-computing solutions and demands by users for the flexibilities offered by “bring your own device” are reshaping everything from security practices to mobile device management and application development. Cyber threats continue to mount; yet, at the same time, there is an ever-increasing need to share information with unanticipated users. There are tremendous opportunities to do better data analytics and business intelligence. And the move to more modular and agile development cycles is fundamentally changing both expectations and acquisition plans.
These are just a few examples of how technology will enable innovation and change the way government does business. At the same time, the uncertain financial times that government leaders face have complicated taking advantage of these marketplace shifts, particularly as concerns about the lack of future funding delay contract awards, defer new large-scale initiatives and encourage risk aversion rather than risk management. Government agencies must simultaneously find ways to reduce costs and create engines of innovation. Both private sector and federal managers will be required to think and act differently. As Lord Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics once said, “We had no money, so we had to think.”
The Professional Services Council recognized that these market trends, if successfully addressed, would provide government agencies the opportunity to reduce technology costs, while still fostering a culture of speed, agility and innovation. Thus, PSC’s new organizational model is specifically focused on the recognition of the significant forces changing the professional services and technology markets and, in particular, two key trends.
First, there is an ongoing “convergence” of traditional professional services and technology work where the combination of different services and technologies are being brought together to create innovative new solutions. Second, there is a migration to “consumption-based models” of acquisition. Managed services and other consumption-based approaches, to include cloud computing, are providing value to the government by leveraging the best ideas and innovations of industry, allowing industry to share in managing risks, reducing costs (particularly the need for large, upfront capital investments), and bringing speed and agility to the stand-up of new capabilities.
PSC’s new organizational model will allow it to focus on key cross-cutting policy areas in acquisition, business and technology management, while simultaneously managing customer-focused efforts for defense/intelligence, civilian agencies and international development. As PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway recently noted, “Our new operating model will enable us to harness the breadth of senior executive engagement and guidance, and leverage a truly agile, well-resourced capacity to address the many forces that are reshaping this market.”
This is true for the newly formed Technology Policy Council, chaired by Anne Altman, general manager for U.S. Federal Government and Industries at IBM, and the Acquisition and Business Policy Council chaired by ASI Government CEO Kymm McCabe. Together, and individually, these councils are bringing together senior leaders from across the technology and professional services sectors and working a broad agenda of topics that are crucial to both government and industry. Our collective goal is to ensure that we leverage the best and most innovative approaches to deliver mission results and help create a government of agility and innovation across the board.