CSRA (NYSE: CSRA) kicked off its first internal “Hack-A-Thon” competition Wednesday morning at its Falls Church, Va. headquarters for employees as part of the company’s push to gain status as “Customer Zero” for the federal government regarding technology adoption and integration.
That distinction as Customer Zero — or “Client Zero” — would put forth CSRA as a primary resource for agencies to turn to as they search for new technologies as new tools and companies emerge in the marketplace, company executives told reporters in a briefing held during the competition.
Hack-A-Thon events also aim to help employees familiarize themselves with technologies of potential interest at agencies before the company bids on a systems or product integration contract, they added.
Seth Abrams, vice president and chief technology officer for CSRA’s homeland security group, offered Microsoft‘s Windows Azure operating system as an example of a product employees have freedom to experiment with at these and other similar events prior to proposals.
“As ‘Customer Zero,’ we make sure to learn on our dime to show we’ve done this before and can do it now. The challenge is to come up with ideas not represented in a customer environment now,” Abrams said.
“That experience shows why the customer can go to a big integrator.”
CSRA spun out of former parent Computer Sciences Corp. in November 2015 to become a pure-play federal technology services contractor and that move has given the new company more opportunity to focus on its relationships with government agencies and innovation, according to corporate CTO Yogesh Khanna.
“One year into being a separate company we’ve become more structured and have a broader plan to executive with a new culture. We have a fiduciary responsibility to harvest innovation’s full landscape.”” Khanna said.
“These Hack-A-Thons are about tapping the collective intelligence of our employees, seeing how talent can collaborate and then how we can get them on a program.”
CSRA has also held two separate Emerging Technology Day events to help connect with other businesses seeking to offer their products in the federal marketplace and Khanna cited those forums as a complementary piece to the company’s Hack-A-Thons.
The technologies other companies bring to CSRA give the latter’s employees an opportunity at Hack-A-Thon events to get familiar with new tools and gain experience with them in an internal environment, Khanna said.
“The larger partners are all innovating and we can take that to the table with a combination of technologies as our employees fuse everything together to make creative solutions,” Khanna added.
“We don’t want to adapt to change, we want to be the change.”