Dr. Gregg “Skip” Bailey is the director of technology integration in Deloitte’s federal practice, where he develops the consulting firm’s technology vision.
He uses his previous experience with data centers, network design and IT management in order to develop that vision for federal customers, including the Justice Department.
He recently spoke to ExecutiveBiz about his most memorable public and private sector experiences, where technology is going and how Deloitte is prepared to acquire assets it needs to stay on top of emerging market trends.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you work to ensure Deloitte’s technology services meet customer needs and what role do you play in evolving the company’s technology offerings?
Skip Bailey: The most important way that Deloitte makes sure that we’re meeting the needs of the customer is by spending a lot of time talking and listening to the customer to make sure that we understand what their needs are. We attend forums and conferences where government leaders are speaking, but also spend a lot of time one on one. I particularly spend a lot of time with chief information officers in the federal government talking to them about what their needs and visions are, so that we have a good idea of how they see the world.
In terms of evolving the technology offerings, I’m particularly involved in the technology offerings especially from the federal perspective. For example we have a product called Tech Trends, which are the 10 technology trends we see, that are going to impact our clients in the next 18 to 24 months. We have a national version and a specific federal version. I’ve gotten involved in both, but I spend a lot of time on the federal version of the Tech Trends reports. That’s one area in which I can impact the overview, because the Tech Trends deal with the thought leadership around technology that we are developing within Deloitte.
We also have opportunities to speak at conferences and publish intellectual property that establish a voice and a position for Deloitte and various technologies. For example, I’m the federal lead for cloud computing, and so I’ve written pieces and spoken publicly about cloud computing and also helped shape our software around cloud computing in the federal space.
ExecutiveBiz: The company recently acquired Ubermind. In what ways do acquisitions like these affect Deloitte’s business and offerings?
Skip Bailey: Deloitte is very savvy in acquiring the best companies in areas where they want to develop and grow. We were looking for a company like Ubermind because we wanted to grow our ability to develop applications for mobile platforms. Ubermind was the best in the marketplace and through the acquisition, we have been able to expand our offerings by using their principles and design methods to teach and train people already within Deloitte.
Another huge example in the federal space was the acquisition of BearingPoint, which brought thousands of very competent professionals to Deloitte as well as contract vehicles and clients. It was a tremendous acquisition that benefited our clients, because then we leveraged the combined strength of Deloitte and BearingPoint.
Some acquisitions are very targeted, like Ubermind, which are very specific skills. Some are more general marketplace acquisitions, like BearingPoint, but at the end of the day it allows us to develop and grow in the direction that we see technology going.
ExecutiveBiz: Where does the company expect growth and do these areas reflect changes in the market as a whole?
Skip Bailey: There are probably two concepts that help explain our position on the changes to the market. The first is what we’re calling the post digital enterprise. The post digital enterprise is a future view of organizations when technologies are baked in as part of the fabric of the organization, instead of being bolted on.
This spans five technology areas we think are going to be critical as part of the fabric of an organization and help them to move forward, including mobility, social computing, big analytics, cyber intelligence and cloud computing.
One real strength of Deloitte, and an area that I particularly focus on, is helping organizations to understand the rules of disruption for their particular organization how technology can enable their mission. This is especially true for the federal government. Agencies can look at how these technology areas are disruptive forces, and use the information to really accelerate their mission in important ways.
The other concept that is seeing resurgence is that of user experience. I was very involved in user experience 20 years ago. We used to call it user interface design. It’s coming back around, and I think it’s another area that is really starting to get resurgence right now.
ExecutiveBiz: What is the role of technology in the government and how can it increase the government’s functionality and efficiencies?
Skip Bailey: Particularly in a function like the federal government, technology is really the prime enabler driving mission success. For example, if you worked for a technology company, technology would be the mission. In the federal government the mission is not technology, yet it is an important enabler. You can really pick any mission you want in the federal government, and I bet you’ll find a key technology component to that.
What technology allows you to do is execute the agencies’ mission more efficiently, more effectively or less expensively, but certainly can be all three of those. The whole purpose of technology is to find those leverage points so that you’re really furthering the mission. When I was the CIO at Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, I used to say, “If what we’re doing is not helping further the mission of ATF, then we shouldn’t be doing it.”
ExecutiveBiz: What were the most memorable experiences and challenges in both your public and private sector experience and how do you use those experiences to fulfill your current responsibilities?
Skip Bailey: I can think of two things that really stand out. Before I came to the federal government I was in the private sector. I ended up managing a project to rollout frame relay, which is the telecommunications of that day, and implement it in 92 countries around the world. I had to do that with very limited travel opportunities. It’s really easy to roll frame relay to Paris or to London or some of the larger more established area, but a majority of those 92 countries were small underdeveloped or undeveloped areas.
I spent about a year doing that and it was really a tremendous and satisfying experience to see it come together where we were able to communicate digital information very successfully virtually throughout the world. It helped me understand what it takes to manage large, complex efforts that are very spread out and diversified. It gave me insights on how to do that and how good project management skills and processes and procedures really can make things possible and also just how to communicate well with people.
The other interesting project that turned out to be a big success was when I was the CIO at ATF. When major crimes were committed, the investigation team would set up command posts near the site of the crime. They needed telecommunications capabilities to run their investigations. We were actually world class at providing frame relay and could get it to them in usually two or three days. But, they came back to us and said, “Two or three days is not fast enough. We have to be able to come in and be immediately effective.”
We realized that the only way to do that would be through wireless connections. We negotiated with organizations that were able to get coverage either by cellular or satellite in every part of the country. That way, the minute they got at the command center they were up and running. That had a collateral effect that we didn’t realize at the time. They liked it so much at the command center that the field agents started to say, “Hey, we just want this on our laptops every day, just for doing our work.” We were able to roll it out nationwide. Wherever they were or wherever they went, they had connectivity. That meant a lot less time in the office, a lot more time out in the field to be more effective.
It had another snowball effect: the inspectors were also able to use this. In the past the inspectors would go to either a firearm’s dealer or to an explosives dealer, and they would do their inspection on a pad and paper. They’d go back to the office. They would type it up and enter it in. That became somewhat difficult, because, for example, when you inspect an explosives dealer you need the longitude and latitude of the explosives cash. We were able to roll out ruggedized tablets, which are a lot different than tablets today. Their capability of having longitude and latitude on them and their forms built in so that they could just fill them out as they went. We really mobilized ATF, and this was quite ahead of anybody else. The inspectors estimated that it increased their manpower by a third. It had that kind of impact because it allowed them to stay out in the field more.
Having watched that whole technology enablement allows me to sit down and talk with CIOs now about their communications and possible ways that they could improve their reach and the ability for people to do work.