Matthew Fahle serves as Accenture Federal Service’s senior executive for intelligence programs in the company’s defense and intelligence practice. Hee has been a part of Accenture’s leadership team since 1995 and is responsible for the company’s service to customers that include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Fahle recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about how he strives to leverage Accenture’s commercial business practices to guide agencies toward mission success, the challenges related to data center consolidation and the emerging capabilities he sees in the federal space.
ExecutiveBiz: What strategies do you employ in your current position in order to effectively grow Accenture’s business with the public sector and in what agencies does the company expect to see that growth?
Matthew Fahle: I’m a senior executive in Accenture’s defense and intelligence community portion of our federal business. I work closely with senior executives across the intelligence community on their business problems. I help our customers by putting together differentiated services built upon business cases.
As we lead teams through various projects, we have outcomes that the team is looking for that will ultimately drive a return on investment for our customers, allowing them to invest those savings in their mission, whether it’s to deliver new capabilities or to turn it around and spend more on the mission itself.
ExecutiveBiz: Accenture uses an outcome-focused approach to conduct business with its government customers. What does this approach look like exactly, what role do you play in it and how has it yielded success?
Matthew Fahle: When we talk about outcome-based activities, rather than taking a set of requirements upfront, we talk to our customers about their business, how they want to do their business in the future. We then put together a roadmap, which really helps them achieve that outcome. Accenture is a commercial organization and we help commercial companies around the world. We’ll look at the way we’ve done work in our commercial practice, such as mergers and acquisitions, looking for opportunities for efficiencies that we can apply to our federal customers.
We bring that same commercial heritage into the intelligence community. By helping understand their business, where they go and where they want to go, we can architect programs and projects that are much different than just taking a set of requirements and implementing them on behalf of the government. That’s why we often build that business case upfront and are often able to drive a significant return on investment at the end of our programs.
ExecutiveBiz: You have led Accenture’s business with specific customers since 2000. How have the services you offered evolved in that time and the way in which you do business with those customers?
Matthew Fahle: We reinvigorated our intelligence community program back in the late ’90s and then going into the 2000s. We started with services that we were well known for commercially and brought those business cases into the intelligence community. As we were able to deliver that value for our customer set, we then began looking for complementary services that have now evolved into things like recruiting on behalf of the intelligence community, helping them migrate applications or transition them into a cloud type environment.
We have also helped our customers separate their data from their applications through big data programs as well as helping them consolidate their data centers. We do this by building common computing and storage environments and then operating that environment after the applications are transitioned.
ExecutiveBiz: What are the essential elements of effectively providing data center services to a government customer and are there challenges a company has to consider when it provides these services?
Matthew Fahle: Data center consolidation has become a core area of consolidation focus within the government over the last five years or so. That’s just starting to turn the corner now to mature conversations around the cloud, separating data from the applications and the big data problems that are starting to emerge.
One of the things that’s integral from our point of view in a data center consolidation program and where you can get the best return on your investment is you need to build what we call a common computing and storage environment. What that gives you is a common operating environment that you’re able to drive efficiencies in how you operate and how you manage that environment. As applications transition, you’re able to drive significant cost out of your infrastructure management budgets.
One of core challenges in a program like that is the culture and changing an environment where they’ve built applications and infrastructure in a certain manner for so long. Going through the cultural changes associated with doing a program like that is really one of the biggest challenges we have to work through.
Everybody has historically bought a server and put an application on it. What’s happening now as we look to drive more IT efficiency is doing that in a more effective, more efficient manner. That’s where the opportunity of the cloud comes into the conversation.
ExecutiveBiz: Are there any market, technology or current budget trends that Accenture is hoping to take advantage of in the coming years?
Matthew Fahle: There are four major trends that Accenture is really excited about. We’re seeing the commercial world go through some of these trends and we’d like to take advantage of these emerging capabilities in the federal space. The first would be the cloud, as cloud capabilities mature, as common operating environments and agencies begin to look to transition their applications to the cloud. We think that’s a really important trend. I talked a little bit about big data and how as we look to future applications and data becomes bigger and bigger, how we’re going to analyze that data. The whole concept of big data will be another important trend.
Something that we’ve actually spent a lot of time focusing on is agile development. How do you put capabilities in the analysts’ or in the war fighters’ hands in a matter of weeks rather than taking months and years to deploy new capabilities? We’re seeing this rapid deployment to the applications. Rapid deployment of infrastructure is another trend that we think will really unfold over the next couple years.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about or to add?
Matthew Fahle: Whether it’s cloud, big data, agile development and some of the services that Accenture has provided to the community over the past ten years, we’re so excited about where we are today and optimistic about our future. We think that what Accenture brings to the intelligence community can really help protect our nation and allow us to become a better country.
I’ve been here for over 17 years. As we’ve built our federal business over the years, and as our commercial business has grown, the key to our federal business is being able to bring those commercial best practices and commercial capabilities in to help our government change the way they do it. With the challenges we’re seeing around budgetary constraints, we think now is a great opportunity for our government to do business differently and help the tax payer and the average citizen.