ExecutiveBiz: How has that effort matched the overall trajectory of your time with Unisys?
Ted Davies: I’ve spent 10 years with Unisys. For five years, I ran our civilian business, and for five years, I’ve been president of the entire federal business.
We got a new CEO five years ago when I took over federal, and he put in a culture that we would work as one company. Over the last five years, there’s been pretty dramatic change in how less insular our federal business has become.
So, culturally, a big shift happened five years ago in the way we go to market together and share the best of Unisys. So, that’s one really big change.
The second big change that’s underway is that, when I joined Unisys, the heritage of Unisys was as a technology company or a hardware company. We were still making the journey to being a services company.
And there’s a recognition over the past few years that our technology is pretty solid, but that a lot of what we do is based not on the hardware, but it’s based on the software that we’ve developed. We’ve developed software solutions to help manage and protect the infrastructure of agencies and for mission‑critical computing platforms.
What we recognized is that some of that software could be adapted and brought forward and used in different ways. So one of the big shifts that’s underway for us: to not run away from services ‑‑ we are still a services company ‑‑ but to better leverage our software solutions and bring them into new markets in different ways.
You’re going to be hearing more about some of the solutions we’re bringing in the enterprise computing space, but also in the security space. We’re looking to bring new solutions to market that are more software‑based solutions that will complement our hardware platforms and certainly go places where our hardware platforms never touched before.
We have a great security solution we call Unisys Stealth, which works to allow data centers to be much more effective in protecting mission-critical data, both from a security and cost standpoint.
We also have a new product called Forward! by Unisys, a new kind of server designed for mission-critical computing challenges that our clients face – running secure cloud and big data workloads, boosting the performance of ERP applications such as SAP, addressing server sprawl by consolidating data center resources, and migrating from legacy systems that use the UNIX operating environment.
We have this culture that’s evolved from stovepipes to operating as one company, and from being a services company to being a company that brings world‑class software solutions to market in addition to services. That’s a big evolution for us.
Lastly, with the convergence of all these new technologies, everything from mobility to security, to moving into the cloud, to big data, we are really focused on enabling new solutions to come to market. We’ve made big advances in that area as well.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you balance pursuing near‑term opportunities against investing in the future technological capabilities and long‑term differentiators?
Ted Davies: The near‑term stuff is fairly straightforward. We’ve got a number of IDIQ contracts or blanket purchase agreements with different agencies. And since we’ve won the first round of some more limited competition sets, those task orders tend to come out more rapidly and in smaller bites.
Acquisition organizations are tending to get those out, as opposed to the bigger ones which were getting delayed, and it’s kind of a food fight for a lot of that. We have focused a good amount of energy there.
In that portfolio team that I described, they have a kind of split mission. One is to support the development of new business through these task order contracts and some of these bigger pursuits that I described. And then the other part of the portfolio team is chartered with determining what investments we need to make to advance in all those areas that I’ve already described.
We balance it by splitting the portfolio team somewhat equally between business development supporting near‑term opportunities and big proposals, and the other part of the team looking at how to develop new solutions and how to leverage the rest of the company.
So it’s through the thoughtful allocation of time and energy of this portfolio team that we think that we’re balancing between the near‑term need to win work and the longer‑term need to be able to invest and adapt new solutions. That’s how we do it.
Ted Davies: Seeing the rate of change accelerate over the last few years has been very exciting. You can kind of see these technological shifts coming. This move to the cloud in particular, and the next one is probably going to be big data. Mobility is another. Cybersecurity has been there for a while.
We’ve seen them, and we’ve reacted to them, and we’re embedding those solutions in our teams. It’s really fun to be part of an organization with really bright people who can understand these trends and bring solutions to market. Everybody talks about how they can leverage commercial solutions. Well, we’ve proven that we can do it.
And everybody talks about how they can move to an as‑a‑service model. And we have proven we can do it. Moving to the mobility world, we’ve proven we can do that. So it’s really exciting to have proof points that suggest that we don’t just talk about doing these things; we can do them. And we’re going to keep pushing to do that.
Our culture here is so important to what we’re doing. Five years ago, we put in place a culture we call “people-focused, performance-based, positive and confident, and participative.” We want folks to be energized by being here. And by and large, I think we’ve got a pretty energized crew.
And we continue to try to invest in people. We’ve built some leadership programs to bring people through, and we leverage Unisys University to help people develop. We’re working to put that culture in place.
An illustration of how our people care became apparent during the government shutdown when many of our billable employees were unable to work. Many Unisys employees across North America expressed a desire to offer some of their vacation time to help offset the time our billable employees were forced to use during shutdown.
Ultimately, the company gave those affected employees credits for paid time off, so it wasn’t necessary for anyone to donate their own hours. But it was a vivid reminder of the caring culture at Unisys.
And the last thing I’d say is I think it’s important for us as industry leaders to be active in our community. And we’ve tried to push folks in the organization as well as our leaders to be really active in the community, to help.
Because there are many diverse needs in the DC metro area, and I think it’s important for all of us as leaders to do what we can.