It's a focus area whose time has come, especially among government customers who face ever-tightening budgets, says Chuck Prow (right), managing partner of IBM's Global Business Services Public Sector.
“We're entering a time when the cost of government will have to decrease,“ says Prow. “We cannot afford to run this level of deficit in perpetuity.“
That's where analytics and optimization come in. Whatever the customer mission, the focus of these technology-enabled tools is the same: to help government customers make better decisions through “a new and insightful looks at data,“ as Prow puts it.
“Those predictive models for the future typically help clients determine how they can be more effective, how they can reduce time, and how they can increase quality,“ says Prow.
IBM's past work in predictive models is many and varied. It includes developing new application processing workflow for the Social Security Administration (SSA), which resulted in an 80 percent reduction in time required to process disability claims for applicants with debilitating disabilities. IBM also developed a test mail system for the US Postal Service (USPS) that's helped ensure a 94 percent success rate in first-class mail delivery.
The NISC acquisition now deepens that analytics capability.
After announcing its intent to acquire NISC in January 2010, IBM finalized its acquisition of the privately-held company in March of this year. (This, after the company opened an Analytics Solution Center in November 2009.)
With the NISC acquisition, IBM gained 1,000 additional professional services staff, with a deeper reach into new mission spaces: intelligence, defense, homeland security, federal health, and civilian sectors.
“The NISC acquisition was very complementary to our core pursuit of improving our clients' missions through the application of advanced analytics and tools,“ says Prow.
NISC also brought with it a series of assets, on the analytical and facilities front. Among the latter: an operation at the US naval site, in Rocket Center, W.Va., which focuses on work in support of health, energy, and the intelligence community.
“This facility brings us a great deal of capability in serving those client sets, and a great deal of ability to expand, both from a technology and human capital perspective,“ says Prow.
With expanded analytics capability now in full gear, Prow's eager to build on what he calls a “new and powerful“ value proposition.
But first thing's first, he says. “Every day we have to stay focused on our clients. If we stay focused on improving the capability of our clients' missions “” and not get distracted by internal things like integration and the normal pressures of running a large business “” then we allow really good people to do great things for our clients.“
So far, that focus has been accompanied by a strong hiring initiative. “As the government continues to right size, I fundamentally believe that those firms that most effectively serve their clients will be those who win the war on talent,“ says Prow.
This year, IBM's public sector unit has hired more than 600 additional professionals, with skills sets that go beyond business analytics and optimization to include strategy and transformation.
So, what's ahead?
Prow spends a lot of time these days focused on that very question. The answer comes on two fronts: continuing to invest in people and staying in service to client missions.
Which is why Prow and his team remain so focused on that “war of talent.“ “We see our hiring continuing on a similar pace for the foreseeable future,“ says Prow. He quickly surveys the scene, past and present.
“This business is all about people and talent,“ says Prow. “I'm really pleased with how this aspect of the acquisition has come together and strengthened our organic capabilities into something new and special.“
New and special. And all within six months.