Prior to joining Unisys, Davies spent 17 years with Booz Allen Hamilton, where he helped develop and lead its worldwide technology business’ economics and business analysis team as a partner.
He recently caught up with ExecutiveBiz and discussed the current competitive budget environment, the company’s cloud and security offerings and leveraging commercial products in the the government market.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of your immediate priorities in the current budget environment? And what have you been doing over the past fiscal year in order to position yourself to be successful today?
Ted Davies: For any contractor in this market, you’ve got to have a stable base upon which to build. Over the past two years, and especially in the recent past, we’ve focused first on making sure that we win all our recompetes.
And, happily, we’ve been successful on all of our major recompetes in the past two years. You have to start with that. If you can’t win your recompetes, then you’ve got real problems.
The downside is that everybody has to bid very aggressively to hold their recompetes. So your run rates can drop, and funding gets tighter, and added positions are harder to get.
Just winning your base business is not enough, because you’re also facing issues like in‑sourcing, particularly in DOD, and you’re facing issues of not having small task orders renewed and not being asked to backfill positions when somebody leaves. So, there’s this constant erosion.
We also focused on is winning small, new task orders to fill in around the base business that is under constant pressure and make sure that we’ve got a stable platform.
What I’m happy about is, we’ve been able to do that in 2012 and 2013. That was a big priority.
The other piece of the strategy has been, while you stabilize your business, you’ve got to win new work. You’ve got to fund some new things that the marketplace needs. And it goes into what we’re trying to do as a company.
Our federal business is about 15 percent of the company, which gives us 85 percent of the company from which to draw to bring in solutions from commercial clients and from non-U.S. federal government organizations.
We’ve been able to bring new solutions to our federal clients from other parts of our business, and we’ve won exciting new work over the past couple of years to add to that now stabilized base.
An example of that is the move to an as‑a‑service model. Like many organizations now, the government is happy to not have to invest capital, their cap X, to keep their infrastructure going. They’re happy to hand the infrastructure to somebody and let them bill them back as they need it.
One of the early movers on that front was the IRS. A couple of years ago they issued a RFP that culminated in an award to Unisys in 2012 for storage-as-a-service.
Rather than buying hardware and trying to figure out how to manage it themselves, the IRS turned to Unisys to bring in a multi-vendor solution. We have multiple partners on this, and we’re able to dial up and dial down the storage requirements for IRS as they need it. Then we only bill them for what they use. It’s a consumption model.
To build the solution, we pulled in experts from across the company and used our understanding and relationships in the IRS to put a compelling vision forward and build what they term a 10‑year partnership to evolve the way storage is procured and managed in the government.
It’s very exciting work we started last year, and it’s up and running now.
Another area where we focused to build upon that base has been around the cloud. The Department of the Interior announced the winners of their Foundation Cloud Hosting contract in the spring. It was, again, a large, multi-year contract.
There were 10 awardees and it was set to a billion dollars per awardee for the opportunity to help them consolidate and become more efficient and more cost‑effective in the way they deliver IT infrastructure.
And interestingly, other government agencies can use that vehicle. So we were really excited to be one of the 10 awardees.
We were even more excited to win the very first task order to move Interior’s SAP implementation to the cloud. We put a very innovative solution in front of them with some new non-federal partners to get it done, and they’re trusting us to do that. We started that in the summer.
There was a second small task order recently awarded, a web hosting task order for another government agency, and we won that as well. So we won the first two orders awarded under that program.
Some people may recall that Unisys helped GSA become the first federal agency to move their entire enterprise to a cloud e‑mail environment. We did that with Google in 2011.
And we’ve done four other implementations in other agencies since then. We just won another award in late September, and we’ve got a couple more right behind that. So we’ve been helping agencies get efficient with their cloud e‑mail for a couple of years.
And this move to the cloud and the as‑a‑service trend are only going to increase in activity.
Unisys has become a real leader in those areas, partly because we’ve built good capability here in federal and partly because we’ve been able to leverage capabilities and solutions from across this big company.
That’s a very important part of where the market’s going and where we’re going to be over the next couple of years.
Ted Davies: We have three business units within Unisys, and they’re market‑aligned, primarily. Unisys Federal Systems addresses the federal market, so we stand alone.
There’s another business unit focused on our global outsourcing business, which is geographically spread out around the world. And they are ranked as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for end‑user support, covering everything from devices to networks to data centers to call centers and service desk.
And then we have another business unit focused on consulting and integration, and that includes technology solutions.
In our federal business, we have market‑aligned teams in civilian, homeland security and defense. We also have a portfolio solutions team, which is a horizontal team. They’re spread across the three verticals I mentioned.
They pick up solutions that we might have built in one part of federal and help translate them into something that might be usable across different parts of the marketplace.
But importantly, they’re directly linked in to what’s going on in the rest of the company. They have regular meetings, forums and communities to share resources and information on what’s going on, so we can optimize where to invest and where to apply the investments that the company’s making.