Tom Davies is senior vice president ACS Government Solutions Group. Here's his take on today's business development environment for government contractors:
ExecutiveBiz: Tell us about the brand-building initiative you engaged in this past year.
Tom Davies: ACS is a leader in the government marketplace, but we've traditionally not done much in the way of brand-building. For the first time in five years, we are advertising in leading publications like Governing magazine, which targets governors and other state and local leaders. Secondly, we've reached out to the governmental affairs affiliates we have in most state capitals with an updated messaging campaign around our services and value proposition. Lastly, we've worked on the messaging itself in terms of what differentiates ACS in the government marketplace.
ExecutiveBiz: In terms of differentiation what was the answer you ultimately came to?
Tom Davies: The heart of our differentiation is our client intimacy. We work side-by-side with our customers, as their trusted operations partner, serving the needs of citizens. Our people are onsite supporting the day-to-day operations of many critical government programs such as Medicaid and child support. We have subject matter experts who come from government and know firsthand the program and operations challenges of government. That intimate, trusted relationship with our government customers allows us to be their operations partner. That's our unique positioning.
ExecutiveBiz: How is insourcing affecting your focus on managed services?
Tom Davies: It's all about applied innovation. We're always looking for ways to increase the value of our services and enhance the benefits government is receiving. We pioneered most of the market niches we currently lead today, building highly innovative solutions, such as electronic payment cards, which are used to disburse government benefits. We have proprietary technology, which makes it challenging for others to replicate. We apply these innovative and repeatable solutions to the most difficult and complex challenges government is facing.
ExecutiveBiz: How has organizational conflict of interest (OCI) affected how you do business?
Tom Davies: It's important for our employees to understand and be sensitive to the rules of engagement with government. Our employees receive extensive training on this issue. It's a continuous challenge because there is no one rulebook for federal, state, and local government and even within states or localities the rules of engagement varies significantly.
ExecutiveBiz: In these uncertain times what can you advise other business development executives?
Tom Davies: Without a doubt, these are challenging times. Our customers are telling us that everything is on the table; they're more open to ideas that in more “normal“ times they may not entertain as readily. That leads to an opportunity for creative thinking and applied innovation. You've got to be proactive and have the requisite client intimacy to be able to do that. You have to have a deep understanding of government, something that ACS has with our subject matter experts. Lastly, you need to be able to quickly capitalize on an opportunity; we call it “hustle“, taking it from an idea all the way through a repeatable solution and, eventually into a successful delivery.
ExecutiveBiz: What emerging markets are you pursuing?
Tom Davies: One is the whole area of health information exchanges. It will be one of the fastest growing market opportunities in the healthcare sector over the next few years. A second area is electronic payment services. One near-term market opportunities for us is to provide those services to in-home health care workers. Another is human resources and administration of HR programs. Finally, there is document management and bringing efficiency to the back office.
ExecutiveBiz: 2009 was a record year for you. What's next?
Tom Davies: We expect to achieve double-digit growth in the government this fiscal year, and we're committed to significantly expanding our federal business. We're also aggressively developing our portfolio of emerging markets, expanding our government business into the UK for instance. ACS made two significant acquisitions in the UK in the past year. The most recent acquisition was Anix, an IT service provider. They have a foothold in the local government market in the UK and we are looking forward to building upon that, working with partners to transfer some of our core state and local solutions that we've pioneered in the United States.
ExecutiveBiz: What’s been the most fulfilling part of your work since coming on board ACS in June 2005?
Tom Davies: The opportunity to work with the leadership team at ACS generally, and in government specifically. We have proven, talented and unbelievably dedicated leaders. We also have terrific domain and subject matter experts, many of whom served in government at all levels. They’re recognized leaders in their field and highly regarded. It’s a great privilege to work with such talented professionals. At ACS, we really “get“ government and know how our customers want to do business.