IT Confidential: Leveraging IT Brings Services And Jobs
Lockheed Martin's deal last week to acquire the government IT business of Affiliated Computer Services (while also selling some commercial business to ACS) says a lot about what's happening in the government IT-services sector. So does a move that received a bit less attention last week: the appointment of Ron Ross as VP of Raytheon Information Solutions. Ross' marching orders are to make sure that the ridiculous quantity of IT talent and knowledge that Raytheon has for creating defense projects--say, the technology needed to make sure a missile hits the right building--is being leveraged to win government business that's pure IT, such as major integration projects or information-security initiatives. Defense companies are pouring more effort into their pure IT businesses, from Lockheed and Raytheon to Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Boeing. It's a strategy Raytheon has been tuning over the past year to get a larger share of the $45 billion or so that the federal government spends on IT beyond its defense efforts. Ross cites knowledge management as an example of where military initiatives could be applied to large-scale nondefense efforts, since the goal is to sort huge amounts of data to deliver only useful information. "Battlefield-modernization efforts are all about taking trillions of bits of information and trying to get it to something relevant to the soldier in a foxhole," he says. Last week also shows just how tough a market this is. The Lockheed Martin deal will add 5,800 ACS employees and about $700 million in annual sales. And Northrop Grumman said its IT business grew 11% last quarter, to reach $1.2 billion. "If you get new business, you probably took it from someone else," Ross says.
One of the people spending that government IT money is Steve Cooper, CIO of the Department of Homeland Security. Cooper is used to grinding out long hours, having worked as Corning's CIO before this job. But he's been surprised at the extent to which this job has consumed his life. "My work-life balance is totally unbalanced," he says. "I've become a one-dimensional person right now." He's not complaining, describing it as the most fun and challenging job he's ever had. It's a job where success is measured in small steps, such as improving information-sharing processes based on talks with FBI officials who once resisted collaboration. There's also the satisfaction that comes from daily chats with officials at home and abroad. "It's fun when you sit down with your counterparts in Canada and work together collaboratively," Cooper says. "It's exciting to listen to police chiefs ... across the U.S."
One well-known IT exec has made a rather more quiet job transition. I was surprised recently to bump into Steve Finnerty, CIO of Kraft North America until late last year, at Dell. Finnerty joined Dell this year and recently moved to the Austin, Texas, area, where as VP for worldwide operations IT he manages technology that runs Dell's just-in-time factories.
I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that I haven't changed jobs, and that John Soat will be back writing this column next week. Send him an industry tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-562-5326. Or check out InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.
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