In this role, he manages a team of BD subject matter experts and is responsible for developing new market initiatives.
He spent almost a decade at Bell Atlantic earlier in his career and has a Master’s degree in engineering.
Corbin sat down with ExecutiveBiz to discuss WWT’s offerings, the company’s entrance into the supply chain management security field, and how his engineering background gives him an advantage in his current position.
ExecitiveBiz: As the government undergoes this period of budget cuts and heads down the road toward sequestration, how are you preparing World Wide Technology for growth?
Craig Corbin: Whether or not sequestration will happen is the $64 million question, no pun intended. But I think underlying all of this speculation is the budget reality – and the fact that the government is going to have to do more with less. I believe one of the ways they’re going to facilitate that is through technology. This is actually right in the sweet spot for WWT and we’re focusing on four specific areas to assist the government in its unstable budget situation.
The first is inter-agency collaboration. We’re using a variety of communication methodologies, including mobility and BYOD, to help government workers and contractors communicate and share information more efficiently and securely. The second is virtualization. Clearly, virtualizing the desktop layer and then virtualizing at the data center is essential, so that less hardware is needed for the same functionality.
We’re seeing a lot of interest in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and virtualization, so we’re investing heavily there with our partners. The third is in the area of cyber security. Even though this may not be an efficiency enhancer to the degree that there are more layers of security, less time and money will have to be spent cleaning up from a cyber penetration issue or event. So, the government is astutely obtaining solutions to help prohibit cyber attacks. The fourth area, I’ll call data center consolidation, as the government looks to go to the cloud. We are providing consulting services as well as equipment and software to help them succeed in their transition and migration plans.
So overall, WWT is well positioned to capitalize on these initiatives well into the future even as the government spends less today.
ExecutiveBiz: How are you taking advantage of these four areas of collaboration, virtualization, cybersecurity and data center/cloud consolidation? Why should the government choose your company over the many other companies that offer these services?
Corbin: What we’ve learned over time is that, the more that we can give in a consultative environment, the better off the government responds by providing information that eventually helps us design and design appropriate solutions to meet their current and future requirements.
We’ve developed a number of workshops in each of these key focus areas, which we offer at little or no cost to our customers. We bring in esteemed industry experts, whiteboard challenges and outline multi-vendor solutions, walk attendees through complex subject matter and ask specific questions to our government customers from the CIO-level on down.
Their answers and input shape our recommendations, suggestions and solutions. At the end of the day, what distinguishes WWT from competitors is clearly technical expertise and the fact that we’re vendor neutral, in the sense that we’re not limited to offering a single solution. We typically have a number of solutions for every problem and we align those solutions to meet the customer’s specific needs, budget and timeline.
ExecutiveBiz: How are you involved at your company with supply chain management and what services does World Wide Technology provide in supply chain?
Corbin: World Wide Technology is a systems integrator and, essentially, a supply chain company with over 15 years of supply chain expertise. We have relationships with key manufacturers around the world, mostly here in the United States, and we are able to build both procurement systems and procurement fulfillment systems with our CRM from our St. Louis headquarters.
Supply chain management is often outsourced to us and we also build sophisticated supply chain management systems within a customer’s environment. We have over two million square feet of warehouse, distribution and integration space as well as a sophisticated supply chain management process that each and every piece of equipment that our customers order goes through.
The government faces two real risks: One is profiteering by a company or person with the ability to counterfeit products. Profiteers are becoming very sophisticated. They either grey mark equipment, which means they will find used equipment and sell it as new. As the equipment won’t be recognized as new, it can’t be properly registered within the warranty system; therefore, no updates can be provided to it. This equipment also may not work, which happens quite often in the government procurement system. Counterfeiting also occurs when engineers reverse-design and falsely-label equipment to look like it came from a legitimate manufacturer. Just like counterfeit designer handbags, the equipment looks like the real thing and it’s sold as the real thing, although it’s clearly not. There have been a number of legal cases where the FBI has worked with the manufacturer to take down some of these counterfeiters, many of which are in China.
The other real risk is the sophisticated actor, which is the bigger risk especially to our nation’s security. There are nation/states willing to spend a large sum of money to implant a cyber backdoor for information or a kill switch that could stop the device in use. Consider what could happen to a plane with some kind of IT gear that could be shut down or controlled by a country hostile to us. As you might imagine, most of the information regarding this type of activity is held in secret, but there is public evidence of these supply chain attacks occurring.
As a result of this growing problem, WWT has invested very heavily in our secure supply chain strategy. While it’s impossible to eliminate risk entirely, we’re dedicated to gathering and protecting information while mitigating supply chain risk for all of our customers. We’ve established proven methodologies to protect the government’s information, including white-labeling orders and avoiding telling the manufacturer who is ordering what and where it’s being shipped.
We handle order management and shipping privately when we get the gear back. We also carefully inspect gear for counterfeiting, which ranges from visual inspection all the way to electrical inspection. In some cases, we also use different types of microscopes to look for counterfeiting of chips and other outward signs that gear has been tampered with. All of this comes with a cost and, right now, there are no true standards, laws or regulations around anti-counterfeiting and establishing a secure supply chain. However, we’re passionate about supply chain security and see it as a national security issue. While we haven’t seen a significant return on the investment yet, we believe the government is going to have to deal with these challenges for years to come. We want to be out in front of the issue and be perceived as a market leader in establishing supply chain security.
ExecutiveBiz: How did your previous roles in business development prepare you for your current position.
Corbin: In the last several years prior to joining WWT, I worked with a security practice team building solutions for the government. When I came to WWT, I was able to leverage that knowledge and those relationships to take on a more strategic Business Development role, which helps WWT harness the government’s requirements and design appropriate solutions for our federal customers.
The first 90 days at WWT really brought a lot of the secure supply chain thought to the forefront. I believe that some of my previous experience with supply chain methodologies and best practices has also helped WWT expand our secure supply chain services and customer offerings.
ExecutiveBiz: You have an engineering past. Does having that technical experience give you any advantages in the BD field at World Wide Technology?
Corbin: I think it’s been invaluable because we deal with technology. My background was Intel communications, which has morphed into the Internet. I typically can go beyond the account manager-levels in technology and actually get down to the rudimentary level to understand exactly how the pieces fit together. The things that I learned in the past about building networks and best practice are still with me today and have helped me immeasurably to become the executive I am today.
ExecutiveBiz: What are you most excited about going forward at World Wide Technology?
Corbin: One of the reasons that I came to WWT was the core values on which the company was built and predicated. WWT is just a tremendously solid company. Also, while WWT is starting to build branded solutions in the marketplace, WWT is not necessarily a manufacturer, so we’re not tied to any particular vendor and/or technology.
That allows us really to stay on the cutting edge and bring in solutions to meet the evolving needs of our customers. What’s really neat is when you go into a customer meeting and, as you listen to them talk about their problem, you know you’ve got a big tool bag from which you can offer a solution or the right tools to help them get to where they want to go. I’m extremely excited about that and WWT’s potential in the marketplace.
WWT will be closed out 2012 at over $5 Billion in revenue and was recognized by Forbes earlier this year as being among the top 100 largest privately held companies in America. We’ve got a solid growth plan and, even in this uncertain time for the federal side, WWT grows successfully year after year. To say the least, it’s quite an exciting time.