Mike Fox is senior vice president for corporate strategic development. Here’s his take on today’s business development environment for government contractors:
ExecutiveBiz: How, if at all, is OCI affecting your current business development efforts?
Mike Fox: As far as OCI, we’ve established an even more rigorous bid review process to make sure we double and triple check whether an upcoming bid opportunity has a potential OCI with either existing work or work we want to pursue in the future. This process goes hand-in-hand with a well-defined corporate OCI mitigation plan that complies with government OCI regulations.
ExecutiveBiz: What do your double and triple checks for OCI entail?
Mike Fox: Using our portal and our internal resources, we make sure that task order requests or RFPs that come in are distributed and posted. So that anybody we think may have a reason to see it as a potential OCI has a chance to review and weigh in on a bid / no bid decision based on that review.
ExecutiveBiz: What trends did you uncover as a result of your recent strategic plan?
Mike Fox: I’m going to hit many of the same ones that everybody else is: Cybersecurity, cybersecurity, cybersecurity. Certainly the entire area of e-health — things like personalized medicine, telemedicine and food and drug safety — which is broader than just health IT. Smart energy and green building services, of course, with some of the legislation now being executed under the Obama Administration requiring agencies to minimize their energy consumption. Identity management, next generation biometrics and counter-group analytics will be big. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, persistent UAS operations, universal situational awareness will continue to expand. And defensive counter-space operations will be big as well.
ExecutiveBiz: What best practices can you impart to other executives on gathering business intelligence?
Mike Fox: Take advantage of every open forum you can where customers are speaking about their challenges and issues. Organizations like Input and Frost & Sullivan are great resources. You have to get your hands on anything you can that documents what’s going on within these agencies; GAO reports, IRM strategic plans, anything in the public domain that gives insight into some of the challenges and their visions. Certainly teaming with incumbents and consultants who may have worked in that environment can be helpful as well.
ExecutiveBiz: What tips can you offer to grow revenue and move toward opportunity identification to capture?
Mike Fox: There are some [markets] that I consider sure bets because of world events, economic situations, or legislation that’s forcing agencies to comply. There are others that I believe are possible opportunities— things like cloud computing, software-as-a-service, or the whole area of social networking — that people are talking about but you can’t be absolutely sure these things will take hold and become real revenue generators. So, my advice is to stay aware of the trends, but if there isn’t a major force behind it causing agencies to go that way I would tread lightly. You can sink a lot of time and money into things that just never really take off. We all remember the push to seat management and the Lines of Business.
ExecutiveBiz: How are you responding to the general issue of talent shortage here in the DC area?
Mike Fox: We have a number of “near shoring” initiatives underway; exploring how best to perform certain programs, especially those in the sustainability or maintenance phase, work outside the DC area. To the extent we can stand-up a help desk somewhere in Pennsylvania or move some ERP development work down to Blacksburg, that would help address the talent shortage in this area..
ExecutiveBiz: What’s been the most fulfilling part of your work since assuming your new role in September 2008?
Mike Fox: That’s an easy one. I spend a lot of time visiting university and research labs, technology vendors, and think tanks. Just seeing their work and hearing about their future predictions is exciting. So is brainstorming with folks at SRA about how to leverage these future trends into our R&D efforts and build new offerings to bring to our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you see happening over the next 12 to 18 months?
Mike Fox: We already have a forward-thinking organization; I want to create an even greater culture of innovation where everybody is focused on future technology trends and what our world will be like five or 10 years from now. I hope to continue to find ways for people to bring this new technology into our everyday work.