Ted Davies joined McLean, Virginia-based national security and technology services contractor Altamira in July as CEO after nearly six years as president of Unisys‘ federal government arm — Unisys Federal Systems.
Davies took the reins at Altamira nearly a year after the company formed out of a merger between Invertix and Near Infinity, a transaction that was backed by investment from Razor’s Edge Ventures and Columbia Capital.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Davies discusses the role of the equity partners in helping to position the company for growth and gives his views on how open source technologies and data analytics are taking hold in many agencies.
ExecutiveBiz: Please introduce your role in Altamira and tell us what attracted you to join the company.
Ted Davies: Altamira was attractive to me for a number of reasons. First, the positioning of the company in the market place is very exciting. We’ve got some really great contracts, customers and solutions. After I met the leadership team, I realized that we have really great people as well.
Second, it is a mid-sized company so it has enough capability to build around but not so big that you can’t move the organization. In the market today there is a need for agility that some big players struggle with. There is also a need for stability and strength that some smaller players struggle with. The last reason is that our equity partners are willing to invest for value to be created over a logical time period. There are a lot of opportunities to do some fun things here.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of your immediate priorities at Altamira? What are also some longer-term things you plan to focus on?
Ted Davies: My first priority is meeting our people and understanding what they do and who they do it for. I’ve asked two key questions in all of my discussions and got good answers on these. First: What do we have to do at Altamira to make people excited to work here, have high expectations and recommend their friends to come here? Second: What do we need to do at Altamira to make sure it is a place that customers want to do business with?
We are not totally synced up on these answers yet but we will be. There are some basic operational decisions and alignments to make since Altamira was a combination of two predecessor companies last year. We need to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of the organizational structure, the roles and responsibilities, the expectations and the kind of culture we want to have. We will clear this up and have a good baseline by the end of summer.
The second phase, which is in the September-October timeframe, involves building the three-year view of the business from 2015-2017. We are in a position to make good choices on where we want to take the company, what to do with our base business, which markets to serve and what kind of solutions and products to invest in so that they can become growth engines for the company.
ExecutiveBiz: What aspect of data analytics do you see the agencies increasingly prioritizing or focusing on?
Ted Davies: All agencies, whether they are public sector or commercial organizations, get an enormous amount of data and information about their internal operations, the market place they operate in and their customers. Each agency is creating things differently and is in a different phase of data analytics. It is exciting that Altamira is a technology company with great open source big data solutions.
We are looking to have more customers try our products and in the process help us with our development road map. We want to continue to refine our solutions and want to build functionality that best serves the needs of our broadening customer base.
ExecutiveBiz: What part of the agency’s mission do you see open source technology particularly helping in?
Ted Davies: Open source is gradually permeating across agencies. Some are willing to use open source solutions for their mission applications, while others are focusing on their internal or back-office applications. People are getting more comfortable with open source and the burning platform is the price tag associated with the old software licensing model. Expensive licensing fees for proprietary software are not going to be affordable over the long term. Adoption of open source will pick up over the next few years in government.
ExecutiveBiz: With your experience on teambuilding and recruiting, what goals do you have involving the team at Altamira?
Ted Davies: The senior team, comprised of the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Chief of Operations, is well-defined and is now used to working together. I’ve just now established a broader leadership team of eleven people that together will develop the strategy and drive results for the company. Later, we are going to expand to the senior management team from across the business. These are the people that are touching our customers, our people and the market every day.
We have to make sure they are tied into the decision making process because they are going to be the ones to implement the decisions and they need to understand why we are making choices. As we refine the strategy and articulate it to the organization, we’re going to find some natural gaps in the leadership and management teams in markets we want to serve or solutions we want to bring to market. We will need to fill those gaps from both outside and inside our organization throughout the next year. How we fill those gaps will be critical.
ExecutiveBiz: Do you have any final thoughts?
Ted Davies: It remains an exciting time to be in this market as it continues to go through a dramatic amount of change with both new technologies and new players coming in. There is not a big change in fiscal pressure today – the age of tight budgets is still here – and there is a need for the government and for companies who do business with the government to think and operate differently. I’m excited to be at Altamira because we have the size and strength as well as the agility to adapt and move quickly in this evolving environment.