He also leads capture management activities for strategic deals and creates customized offerings for federal agencies in his role.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Natarajan describes how the company aims to leverage its commercial sector experience in the federal market, some of the customized offerings federal agencies ask of AT&T and the company’s push in the cloud computing and mobile device market.
ExecutiveBiz: Introduce our readers to your position and your responsibilities at AT&T.
Natarajan: I am the executive director for global customer solutions at AT&T, supporting the federal government segment. As part of my role, I manage three distinct groups.
The first group is what is traditionally known in the federal government community as the capture management role. This encompasses deal management for all strategic deals that AT&T Government Solutions, our federal business unit, chooses to pursue. We focus on all sizes of deals – large to small. A large portion of the deals that AT&T Government Solutions pursues is managed by this group, the capture management group.
The second group that I manage is a custom solutions group. Think of the customization that is often required for government procurements, whether from a networking, mobility, or cloud perspective. This group of solution architects manages the customization process and makes sure that we come up with a solution that is both suitable to the government requirements and operationally sustainable by AT&T.
A third group that I manage is the contract group. I run several contract groups within AT&T Government Solutions, each focused on a part of the government market.
ExecutiveBiz: What were your previous responsibilities in leading the project management group?
Natarajan: Offer management within AT&T is a subset of product management. Offer managers take portions of commercial products and then customize them to be repeatable in a specific segment. That was my first job at AT&T Government Solutions – to take commercial offers and then convert them to repeatable solutions and products for the federal space. That was several years back before I took this position.
It’s a nice segue into the customization aspect of our work because it takes what was commercially developed and suitable for retail, make a few minor tweaks to it, and ensure that it’s accessible and available to government customers.
ExecutiveBiz: How does AT&T take its experience from the commercial sector and apply that into the federal market?
Natarajan: That’s a great question because we are one of the largest telecommunications providers in the world, serving a wide spectrum of customers both in the U.S. and abroad.
One of the things that we do as we develop services for customers across the globe is we have a very thorough lab testing and evaluation process. We don’t bring any product into the commercial arena unless it’s available in a mass repeatable fashion and in almost a bulletproof-operational manner. When you are buying from AT&T, you are buying something that’s been tested thoroughly by us before we actually bring it to market.
We don’t just put any solution into the federal market unless it’s gone through this very rigorous testing and evaluation, first within the commercial market. That’s a great backdrop for how we serve our customers because we believe in being the best in what we do. We go above and beyond what vendors give us before we put any solution into the marketplace.
This approach has benefited the federal market as we bring very proven and tested solutions into the market. We don’t look at the federal market as a beta space. We look at it as something that requires tested solutions – we’ve tested solutions not only in our labs but also commercially both in the U.S. and abroad.
ExecutiveBiz: What kinds of customizations do your federal customers typically ask of AT&T?
Natarajan: There are so many customizations that federal customers require and they span different areas. Some of the more common ones are certification and accreditation of our services. Some of them have specific security requirements that are DIACAP, FISMA, or HSPD-12 certification.
We take our commercial solution and we run them through the C&A process or to the required certifications so that they are available to the government agencies in the appropriate manner. In many cases, we create custom solutions for government customers, ranging from security solutions to network-centric applications. For example, we have created a whole new secure service for internet access on behalf of customers, called MTIPS, which is specific to government requirements.
ExecutiveBiz: Are there any projects that you are working on that you are particularly excited about?
Natarajan: One is cloud. We are heavily involved in cloud and we believe that we can be a differentiator as a cloud provider for the government. We have a lot of good projects going on in that area.
Next, in mobility, we are excited because we have one of the largest mobility footprints in the U.S.; it’s an amazing asset. We see the benefit of our mobile network across many areas, including traditional mobility transport, mobility applications and mobile device management, as well as other applications.
As the government goes more and more mobile, we see ourselves trying to work with the government to come up with creative solutions that will help transform government. We see that as a huge opportunity for AT&T and we are excited about working with agencies.
Finally, we specialize in sophisticated cyber security solutions that continue to evolve to meet government needs and requirements.