Wendy Martin is vice president of advanced information solutions and Washington operations for Harris Corp.’s government communications systems division.
She manages the business unit’s growth and development activities and oversees the company’s regional operations team and the Washington operations steering committee.
The 14-year company veteran recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz and highlighted the company’s communication technology offerings and current trends in this sector.
She also gave us an insider’s look on how the industry has transformed throughout the last several years.
ExecutiveBiz: What types of responsibilities do you have in your role as vice president of advanced information solutions for Harris Corp.?
Wendy Martin: Our advanced information solutions business is part of our government communication systems division of Harris Corporation.
This particular business is collocated with our customers in and around the D.C. area.
Primarily, my business provides advanced cyber solutions to national security and public safety related agencies.
We do this through many different types of cyber capabilities, including full scope cyber, information management systems, big data analytics and secure mobile architectures.
ExecutiveBiz: Harris provides a wide variety of services for the Defense Department. How is your division preparing to deal with proposed budget cuts throughout the next decade?
Martin: Harris recognized a couple of years ago that the government was headed this way. This is part of the reason why they stood up advanced information solutions right here in our customer’s backyard.
We’ve also been pursuing and winning opportunities through strategic indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity task order vehicles which is an area that we see continuing to grow for the government because it saves them money in terms of their acquisition process and allows us to respond very quickly to their needs.
Harris also has variety in the types of business models available to our customers: from professional services to high-end engineering development. By supplying a best value model with solutions, we are helping stretch the dollars they do have.
ExecutiveBiz: The military has entered a transitional phase and is looking at downsizing overall personnel and relying more on technology. Looking forward what role do you think Harris will play in this transformation process?
Martin: Harris has a reputation for being on the leading edge of technology development, particularly as it relates directly to our customer’s very challenging needs.
We have several partnerships for developing information systems that ingest large amounts of data, does information analytics and presentation such that an analyst can spend more time making decisions and less time looking for the data to support their decisions.
I’ve also talked a little bit about our investment in mobile architectures and that’s from a processing, operating and security perspective. More and more our customers are looking for solutions to use this new technology, but they also want to know that it’s secure.
And finally, we’re continuing to explore full scope cyber tools, technologies and solutions because the threat is ever changing and our engineers we are preparing to meet those demands with innovative solutions.
ExecutiveBiz: What types of communication technologies is the government currently looking to invest in?
Martin: Certainly satellite communications will continue to be important to our government, as well as mobile architectures. In fact most people are surprised to hear that Harris is the single largest commercial purchaser of satellite bandwidth in the world and has invested nearly a billion dollars in satellite related businesses in the last two years.
Harris is also a world leader in providing highly specialized satellite antennas, structures, phased arrays and on-board processors to government and global commercial clients.
Secure mobile architectures and communication systems to those devices are also of interest. The government is looking to take advantage of all these commercially available technologies to efficiently fulfill their missions. Harris is a recognized technology and thought leader on how to leverage these technologies to help a variety of government clients accomplish their missions.
ExecutiveBiz: How have Harris’ solution offerings changed since you’ve been with the company? In addition, what types of factors drive these changes?
Martin: Today the government is looking for more custom off the shelf type of solutions.
When I first started working, a lot of what we did was very much custom design, for very harsh environments and the government was interested in a zero failure rate.
Through the technology boom, the commercial markets have caught up, and in many cases meet the requirements of the government’s needs. This shift has led to more integration contracts, and less custom design.
The custom off the shelf products come with a reduced cost, and a faster design cycle. Both of which are beneficial to the government.
ExecutiveBiz: What types of critical cybersecurity solutions does Harris currently offer to help protect the U.S. government’s cyber-infrastructure?
Martin: We have a number of programs where we are supplying secure networks to the government. Our FAA telecommunication infrastructure network provides the voice, data and video communications that support operations and mission support at more than 4,000 FAA and DoD facilities nationwide with an extremely high degree of reliability and security. You can imagine how important security is for that network.
Another program to highlight is one we do for our USDA customer. They have a nationwide, complicated and heavily used network that Harris cyber security professionals help secure every day.
Our solutions come from lessons learned from all our work, and include collaboration with our own CIO department. By sharing information across programs and from within, we stay on top of the threats and can offer real time solutions. Harris also invests heavily in research and development, and we bring those innovations to the cyber security challenge as well.
ExecutiveBiz: What challenges arise while trying to provide a secure cyber network for the U.S. government?
Martin: No networks are 100-percent secure all the time. As we find ways to defend networks, adversaries are finding more creative ways to exploit.
Since threats are constantly evolving and changing; as a nation we have to stay focused on also constantly evolving and changing to stay ahead of the game.
It’s also important to note that it is not just about breaking into a network; there are social engineering aspects which are often times extremely hard to identify and detect. Adversaries and criminals are getting much better at creating e-mails that look authentic in order to get you to click on certain things that can compromise networks and systems.
There is very little that cyber doesn’t touch today. Cyber threats affect our national security, economic security, our public safety and our overall way of life. Keeping our cyberspace as safe as possible ought to be a national priority.
Many still see security as an insurance policy, and it’s hard to put the dollar value on securing your data. However, as we get educated, we are better understanding the threats to our nation and getting more commitment and interest in securing.
This is absolutely in the right direction. As individuals we all must accept responsibility to do our part and not just rely on our government address cyber challenges.