Next-Generation IT – undoubtedly you’ve heard this new term creeping into the vocabulary of the federal tech community. But before it becomes yet another lightweight buzzword used to sell CIOs another bill of goods they don’t really need, I want to define it. When given substance Next-Generation IT is a powerful term that truly captures a fundamental shift not only in technology but also in a mindset that will enable federal CIOs to drive mission success like never before.
The foundation of Next-Generation IT (or Next-Gen IT) is a steadfast belief that flexibility, agility, collaboration, and openness are the keys to success. From our viewpoint, Next-Gen IT applies disruptive technologies and business models to drive efficiency and effectiveness. From a core technology standpoint this means that solutions are conceived as services, based in the cloud, and created in an Agile DevOps environment. From a service delivery perspective Next-Gen IT is built on partnerships – between technology vendors, to ensure best-in-class technology and domain expertise are always available, and with agencies to ensure that solutions are sourced, developed, and executed in concert. While we, as solutions providers, can bring a new offering to market, our government partners are the ones that understand the nuances of their IT environments and how solutions need to adapt to meet heightened security requirements, mission priorities and mandates. The final component of Next-Gen IT, is that while it might be a cutting edge solution it does not have to break the bank. Cost – and cost control – are central ‘next-generation’ principles. Agility, innovation, and flexibility are the core tenets that enable cost efficiencies despite the newness of the solution.
What does this Next-Gen approach look like in practice?
At CSRA we’ve invested a lot of time in thinking what this means both from a tech and human perspective. It started with the merger of CSC and SRA. From the beginning we sat down with our top 100 employees – the thought leaders, the business developers, the IT gurus, human resource specialists, and outstanding communicators – to identify our best business and customer relationship qualities and those who excelled in delivering on them. We shared and learned, and created repeatable processes that help us meet our customers’ needs so they can deliver on their critical mission outcomes.
Similarly, when looking at our business offerings we stopped thinking about what we did from a technology perspective and started thinking in terms of what problems we could help solve. Then, we looked at what we needed to do in order to make our solutions best-in-class; we asked tough questions about whether we needed to do it all ourselves, or if key partnerships and alliances with those already established in those fields made the most sense to realize our Next-Gen IT reality. Surprisingly re-inventing the wheel was not the best option. The best path forward was forging strong partnerships with industry leaders and other domain experts to create solutions in areas such as big data, cyber, cloud and enterprise business services that will meet the critical needs of government agencies as they strive to fulfill the promise of a data-driven government.
Finally, our investment in Next-Gen IT also comes down to where we do business. While federal agencies are headquartered in Washington D.C., there are many more federal facilities and federal workers located all across the country, around the world, on the oceans, and of course, a few in outer space. So, why would an organization that’s working with federal agencies limit its locations to the Metropolitan D.C area? CSRA created the Integrated Technology Center (ITC) in Bossier City, Louisiana. Right now, it accommodates more than 350 technologists, but I expect that to grow to 800 over the next year and a half. The ITC also houses data center facilities, and serves as a service center and a development site. In tapping into a more cost-effective, yet skilled labor market, CSRA has certainly been able to drive efficiencies within our business, but the more relevant point is that we can then pass through these savings to agencies without compromising on quality of service delivery and solutions support.
So, the next time you’re in a meeting and someone starts talking about Next-Generation IT, ask them what they really mean. If they start listing off tech tools and acronyms without explaining how it’s supported by people, processes, and even philosophy, you’ll know you’ve stumbled into a hype cycle and be you’ll able to chart a course toward substance and mission success.
Interested in learning more about CSRA’s unique value proposition for federal agencies? Why not follow their company page on LinkedIn to learn more about their Next-Generation approach to IT.
George Batsakis is CSRA’s Chief Growth Officer responsible for the development and execution of strategies to grow the business and strengthen relationships with commercial technology partners to bring Next-Generation and Enterprise IT solutions tailored to drive mission success. You can learn more about George here or connect with him on LinkedIn.