Cal Shintani is senior vice president and chief growth officer at Oceus Networks, where he was appointed earlier this year to oversee business development, capture, proposals and sales.
The 30-year military and industry veteran also is responsible for the company’s mergers and acquisitions activity.
He recently caught up with ExecutiveBiz to discuss the role of commercial technology in government, how he helps the company’s engineers deliver that technology and the company’s plans for pilot projects this year.
ExecutiveBiz: Explain your position as Oceus Networks’ senior vice president and chief growth officer.
Cal Shintani: I’m focused on profitably growing the company’s top line, which starts with setting the growth strategy – defining our market opportunity, specifically what kind of customers we want to serve, and how we will mobilize as a company to capture opportunities in those markets.
From a functional standpoint, I lead business development, sales, marketing, capture and proposals. We just kicked off our strategic planning process, so we’re putting together details of our three year plan defining where it is that collectively we want to go as a company, but also from a cultural perspective, because to most effectively grow our business, we think that’s just as important.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the products and/or services that Oceus is working on?
Shintani: Our goal is to be the innovative leader in communications solutions. So as the government is focused on mobility as an enabler, our telecommunication solutions help the government in that space.
For example, with our Xiphos family of portable 4G LTE networks, we are the prime contractor for a Navy pilot that is the first ever operational deployment of 4G LTE for the US DoD. The pilot is for a three-ship amphibious expeditionary strike group, which also includes a couple helicopters for beyond-line-of-sight high bandwidth communications. We passed the government’s factory acceptance test and we’re shipping systems to Naval Air Systems Command headquarters at Patuxent River, Md. We are integrating it on the ships this summer, and they’ll be doing their workups in the fall.
So, we’ve already passed JITC certification from a land and mobile perspective, and we’ll get the full certification once we’ve done the sea and air components which we expect this fall. In addition, one of the key pieces of this tactical cellular capability is showing that it’s secure. The National Security Agency has teamed up with the Naval Air Systems Command to set the guidelines for the security component. Once we complete the tests and the workup, NSA will be able to say, “Yes, this is operating in accordance with their security restrictions.”
Another example of our communications solutions is that we’re under contract through Skanska to design, install and integrate the distributed antenna systems for a multi-building complex in New York for an international organization. As our customers are looking for mobility solutions, they’re finding that they may have great coverage outside buildings, but they don’t have it inside. So, we help them figure out what the coverage should be inside a building.
For this customer, one of their buildings has a large high capacity amphitheater, so it’s more about a high volume, high transaction solution. It’s a different kind of system that you’d find than in a standard office building. We’re helping develop and implement those types of solutions as well.
In addition to Xiphos, which is an Oceus Networks product family, for the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, we’re also the exclusive provider of the market leading Ericsson communications technology. Ericsson just acquired a company called BelAir, which provides Wi-Fi solutions. We’re also looking into that to further expand our portfolio.
ExecutiveBiz: How is the company adjusting to reduced budgets, and how are the cuts affecting the company’s main areas?
Shintani: Our focus is how to provide better communications capability at a lower cost. We’re looking at commercial technology — commercially-proven technology — that already had lots of investment by the commercial telecom companies. The kind of technology that we’re offering to the Navy, for example, is already used in more than 50 percent of the cell sites of the major U.S. telecom carriers. We offer this technology, and integrate it with current government solutions so that our customers can spend less money for more capability than they’re getting now.
In the old construct, DOD had a long procurement cycle, whereby the time the custom solutions are developed and integrated, their capabilities already are two, three, or even four years old. We’re offering proven secure solutions that are current right now with the ability to continually upgrade, inserting new technology as it’s developed by the larger telecommunications firms.
ExecutiveBiz: The defense community’s vision is to have a leaner and more agile force. How is your company helping the Pentagon achieve that mission?
Shintani: Through the same way. Government can be more agile and leaner when they are leveraging proven commercial technology and the billions of dollars of private industry investment made by the telecommunications companies.
Sustainability is also greater because agencies have multiple companies that are supporting these technologies. Implementation and upgrade paths are much shorter as commercial best practices have been developed and can be used with integrating these emerging technologies into government missions.
So basically, they’re not just relying on the one shipyard that makes nuclear submarines. They can rely on the commercial capabilities developed and refined across the entire industry. That lets DOD be more agile in how they procure and how they meet their requirements.
The other important piece is the devices. Right now, very specialized radios are used by the military. As the military is looking at commercial technology like 4G LTE, they’re now able to use the devices that my son and daughter in college are using or that I use. That’s where we’re going. So by leveraging proven commercial technology, the Pentagon and other government agencies can spend more of their budget on their people and to meet other requirements.
ExecutiveBiz: How will broadband and commercial-off-the-shelf technology help in that transitional phase?
Shintani: From a macro point of view, the government is using more and more bandwidth. That’s happening to all of us in our personal lives, as well. As you get more and more capability, it requires more applications that require greater bandwidth. The government needs that higher bandwidth, higher speed capability to do its job.
They have full motion video that they like to use. They have large images. They have lots of devices now all around the world that are transmitting information. They want to be able to take all of that information, collate it and then send it back to the users. In the past, it was kind of a one-way pipe. They could send lots of information to the war fighters, but the war fighters could only send limited information back. They want to be able to have that high bandwidth so they can go back and forth. By using proven secure COTS-based solutions that are currently moving information instantaneously throughout the commercial world, government can also achieve the same results and ultimately make faster, better decisions.
ExecutiveBiz: Moving into a broader perspective on the federal market, what areas do you think have the most potential for new growth for the industry as a whole?
Shintani: One is mobility. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel just came out with the government’s digital strategy, and a key component of that was mobility. The DoD CIO also recently released an interim strategy regarding defense use of commercial mobile devices. We need to all think beyond the pilots that the federal government is conducting with iPads. We should look at how the government actually can change how they’re doing business if they have a mobile workforce and use high bandwidth capabilities that companies like ours can provide with these higher-end devices.
Employees don’t have to be stuck at their desk anymore. They can do a lot of their work in the field, being able to immediately send critical information back and forth. The more that data is taken in aggregate and an overall solution provided, the more and better that the mobile workforce will be at performing their jobs.
Mobility is also helping to drive ‘big data’, as these mobile solutions require more and more data. That is another area for growth.
So, whether it’s an iPhone or some other 4G LTE device, government workers and folks in the military are all expecting these advanced communications capabilities. What Mr. VanRoekel and others in the government are trying to do with our digital government strategy is to acknowledge that and say, “We need to deliver the same kind of capability that our workforce is using at home.”
ExecutiveBiz: How has your experience at CACI and at Unisys helped you transition into this role you have now?
Shintani: I have been fortunate to work with quite a few really good companies, not just CACI and Unisys, but Veridian, which became part of General Dynamics, and a small company named BTG, which is now a part of L-3. Through these roles, I’ve been able to observe lots of good leadership. I’ve worked with senior industry folks for many years, but also with senior government executives to understand how they do business, working closely with agencies to understand what they need to achieve their mission.
What I’m trying to bring to Oceus is that level of understanding of the government missions to help our smart engineers better understand how they can help solve the government’s challenges. Here at Oceus, we have amazing engineers who understand the technology really well and have proven its effectiveness in the commercial world. And now, working together, we’re broadening the field of use so we can identify how we might be able to use that technology and our expertise in different ways to support our government.
Because I have been able to work with several companies and have pretty deep ties throughout the community, I’ve also clearly learned that a lot of what we need to do, we can’t do by ourselves. It takes a team to develop and deliver a really effective capability to the government. That requires teams of contractors, not just one single company. I’m able to help forge those relationships with companies that I’ve partnered with in the past, as well as continuing to develop new relationships to best meet emerging government communications requirements, to help us as we move Oceus Networks forward.
ExecutiveBiz: Are there any areas that you want to expand upon or anything else that you would like to add?
Shintani: Oceus Networks Chief Operating Officer Randy Fuerst calls 2012 our “year of the pilot.” When I talk to a lot of government officials who are working in mobility, they see this as the year of the pilot as well. One of the things that the government is trying to get a handle on is how they move from doing these one-off pilots into something that’s more mainstream for how they do business.
None of us have solved that, but it’s something that both the government and industry are all looking at. How do we take some of these cutting edge technologies and help deliver better capability for folks in uniform, and for government workers in places like the Department of Homeland Security and FBI? How can we help them do their job better, where it’s not just, “Here’s a new toy in a sandbox,” but “here’s a real capability that you can use today.” In doing so, it’s key that we also ensure it operates securely with their existing systems.
In the end, as an industry, we must take these really great pilots that are delivering some good capabilities and expand that into something that can be used more broadly to truly benefit the government workforce. That’s our focus moving forward.