IBM’s Chuck Prow: Six ways to drive value and innovation in 2010

chuck prowIt’s been over a year since Chuck Prow was named managing partner of IBM’s Global Business Services Public Sector business. Since then, Prow has been overseeing IBM’s consulting and systems integration business for the U.S. federal, state, local, education, and health care markets. Analytics play a key role in each market. Prow recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about his role and shared his views on six ways to consistently deliver value and innovation on behalf of agency missions:

  1. Understand your client’s business. Prow works closely with clients in a “very mission-oriented way,” as he puts it, to help them understand data patterns. Prow has helped homeland security clients, for example, utilize information they may already have to reduce any given threat more effectively. “The threat may be one type at a local level, a different type at the homeland level, and yet a different one at the DoD level,” says Prow.
  2. Bring value to client missions. Analytics is one way Prow’s team is bringing value to client missions. “As we engage with our clients, we provide insights into their mission that they might not have focused on,” he says. In social agencies, for example, Prow’s team has looked at the time to process claims and, in many cases, decreased that time from four or more months to 20 days or less.
  3. Educate, train, and evolve top talent. “Whether long-term IT projects or short-term consulting engagements, each requires you have top talent — and that you continue to educate, train, and evolve that top talent to stay ahead,” says Prow. “Our people,” he says, “are looking for ways to help government become more efficient.” As an example, says Prow: “We’ve worked with the Army over a period of years on virtual classrooms. This type of work has significantly improved the Army’s ability to recruit and retain, while increasing their skills and preparing them for advancement as future soldiers. People within our organization really have a sense of purpose assisting with that type of mission.”
  4. Stay relevant. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as the healthcare market, are calling for increased investment in technologies and capabilities that increase government responsiveness and drive down costs. IBM has been focusing on analytics to help make that happen. “We’re seeing an enormous trend to implement analytics into overall core processes of our government and healthcare clients,” says Prow. The Obama Administration’s call for transparency is another area where IBM is staying busy. “We’ve been heavily focused on our smarter planet, smarter city, smarter infrastructure initiatives,” says Prow, adding, “At their core, these programs are all tightly linked to speed and transparency.”
  5. Help clients stay focused. Because of their size and complexity, government projects typically span a number of years. “In most cases our clients are implementing the large transformational projects to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government,” says Prow. “We spend a great deal of time with them to stay focused on the vision, and as the political or economic realities change, to adjust that vision to stay as relevant as possible.”
  6. Foster a collegial partnership. That’s especially true at a time of insourcing. “Irrespective of the short term uncertainty around insourcing, we, as a professional services community, must ultimately stay focused on continuing to foster a collegial partnership with our clients that can provide ultimate value,” says Prow. “At the end of the day, I believe if we stay focused on [that] partnership … we will continue to be mutually successful,” he says.

IBM’s New Analytics Solutions Center

In November, IBM opened an Analytics Solutions Center in Washington, DC. The center is focused on helping government and other public sector organizations use analytics tools, such as mathematical algorithms and modeling, to extract actionable insights from their data and improve decision making.

“The opening of this center really shows the growing interest in the power of analytics to help government and healthcare organizations transform and become more effective,” says Prow. It’s also a message that should resonate with industry as a whole. “That message applies marketwide,” says Prow, “It’s a statement of where our clients are asking us to be.”

The center draws on the expertise of more than 400 IBM professionals, including researchers, experts in advanced software platforms, and consultants. IBM is also prepared to hire another 100 analytics professionals as demand grows. They’ll work with federal agencies on projects ranging from transportation and social services to customs and border management and revenue management.

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