Tom Woteki is senior vice president and chief architect for Acentia.
He joined the company in September 2011 and has worked with his team to build and develop the company’s technology solutions offerings to its government customers.
The former Red Cross chief information officer recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about his new position, the payoff following Acentia’s recent headquarters move and the technology and growth areas that are on the not so distant horizon.
ExecutiveBiz: What drew you to the company and what goals do you have in your current position?
Tom Woteki: Throughout my career, I’ve stuck to a guiding principle to take on any opportunity to work with really great people on interesting challenges. That’s a two-part thing – knowing who the people are and knowing what solutions I’d be able to develop. That’s what attracted me to Acentia. The people that I found here, and particularly the opportunity to work Todd Stottlemyer and the team that he’s building, interested me greatly. The company is working on some neat projects that are essential to the mission of our customers.
I was drawn by the opportunity to help the company expand its technology offerings and remain relevant to the mission of our customers. I have no interest in providing commoditized services. My goal in my position is to build Acentia’s technology capabilities and differentiate us as a trusted partner and preferred provider of information technology services, particularly in the federal and health sectors.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you approach your duties developing a roadmap for Acentia’s technology offerings and where do you expect the company will see growth?
Tom Woteki: We’re developing our capabilities, our roadmap, based on centers of excellence that I’ve helped define for the company. The centers are for things like cloud, modernization, collaboration, mobility and enterprise integration. We’re taking a structured approach to defining solutions and offerings within those broad technology areas, which are supported by other activities and programs that complement our efforts to build those capabilities.
The COEs will incorporate several other initiatives. We are establishing a technical fellow’s program whereby we will recognize exceptional talent within Acentia who can provide thought leadership and be resources within the company, the industry, and to our customers with regard to technological developments.
Another initiative I’m very excited about is our development of a solutions lab. We’re specifically launching that as a lab-as-a-service, using a hybrid cloud approach. We will be developing a capability in the company to support independent research and development leveraging the same tools and technologies that our customers will be using in terms of reaching the objective of the government’s cloud first and future first strategies.
The third element I just mentioned actually in connection with the solutions lab is that we’ll be establishing an independent research and development program, investing in pilots and prototypes of solutions that our customers find valuable and essential to their mission.
There are several areas where we’re anticipating growth and certainly capitalizing on some of the success and great customer past performance we already have. Cloud and modernization is one area where we have had several customer engagements that have resulted in transformative change and very measurable outcomes. Mobility is another area. In our health IT sector, we’ve done some great work in the area of mobility, particularly as it relates to expanding and integrating the use of mobile devices and applications across government activities. Related to mobility is collaboration, making our customers more productive by using the technology tools that are available to them.
More on the horizon for us is what I call informatics and others call big data or analytics – namely how to use vast stores of information that an agency may have and how to better deliver citizen services and becoming more efficient or reducing costs.
ExecutiveBiz: The company’s offerings seem to span a wide variety of areas including cloud, security, software and mobility. How similar are these service areas and are they likely to become more interrelated than they already are?
Tom Woteki: The key word that you mentioned is that they’re interrelated. They’re interrelated by design and also as a practical matter. There’s a push within the government called cloud first, which mandates that chief information officers move services hosted in traditional data centers to a cloud environment. As you move to the cloud, one of the key words is service. Is it infrastructure or platform-as-a-service that you’re going to use, or is it some type of software-as-a-service? The CIO will be highly involved in procuring services that are delivered out of the cloud.
That leads to consideration of the service-oriented architecture the customer will employ which is part of what we call enterprise integration. If you’re putting together services and a service-oriented architecture you also get involved in consideration of things like service governance, specifically who has access to services, how are they managed, who delivers them, and so on. That plays into establishing an enterprise architecture for an organization, which is another center of excellence that we’ve identified.
As these other areas mature in the industry, collaboration and mobility for example, the interrelatedness will become even more apparent. As you adopt mobility solutions there are services that are delivered on every type of mobile device, there are aspects of security, there are considerations of how mobile devices fit into your enterprise architecture, which devices do you select, and how you manage devices that are personally owned and configured by enterprise users. All of this takes you back to enterprise architecture. These areas are interrelated, and they will continue to be so.
ExecutiveBiz: The company recently moved its headquarters to Falls Church, Va. Was this a strategic move for the company and how does this move affect Acentia’s federal business?
Tom Woteki: It was definitely a strategic move. It puts Acentia in the heart of the Northern Virginia technology community, which is a vibrant place. It also brings us closer to some of our customers and to a lot of our collaborators, whether that’s consultants, employees or partners.
It’s already had a huge payoff. One of our customers is particularly keen on the fact that we have moved, which is evidence of the need for a close collaboration and the desire on the part of customers for a trusted partnership relationship. This is one of the key aspects of how we like to do business with our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: How does your previous experience working with Cisco, the Red Cross and Northrop, for example, aid you in your current position?
Tom Woteki: I’ve had some wonderful opportunities. I’ve worked in the government and academia. I’ve also had my own company and worked at large privately held companies like Merck Pharmaceuticals and Cisco. I’ve worked with other systems integrators in the past, too. Each of those experiences has given me a perspective on the role of technology in supporting the activities of whatever organization it was intended to support, whether that’s a company or a government agency or a non-profit, like the Red Cross. I’ve also been on the customer side of those transactions having worked in the government.
I think all of those roles give me a perspective that’s useful in understanding how to assist our customers in fulfilling their mission. I’ve had the benefit of an exposure to a lot of different technologies and a lot of different ways that they’re used, which helps me guide Acentia to accomplish the essential work we do on behalf of our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: How has the role of technology changed over the years and what are the potential applications you hope to see come from technological advances – particularly in the federal space?
Tom Woteki: Properly executed, technology’s role has always been the enabler of the organization’s mission and objectives, and not an end in itself. What’s changed drastically is the consumerization of technology and the access through technology that certainly didn’t exist maybe even as recently as five years ago, but certainly going back 10 years. Now almost everybody is walking around with a computer.
Mobile devices are just sort of the more recent phenomenon, as services have shifted in many cases from a physical bricks and mortar environment to being online. The impact is that we’re always on, always connected, leveraging services when you need them and on the device that you happen to have.
That scenario is now playing out in the government sector, both internally and externally. Internally in that you have government employees, as you do in private industry, who have an expectation of being able to bring personal devices into the workplace to accomplish their work mission. Externally, it affects the government in that the citizens who consume government services expect to be able to do the same thing. That’s a huge shift over the last several years in terms of how services are consumed and delivered and the associated expectations. One of the big challenges that government agencies, and government CIOs, have is meeting that challenge, and they’re not the only ones. This challenge pervades the delivery of services, whether it’s in the government sector or in the private sector. Speaking for Acentia, we’re ready to meet that challenge.