Last month, GDIT held the second session in our annual three-part, signature technology event series, Emerge. Emerge is designed to showcase real technology solutions, the impact they are making today, and what that impact will look like in the future. Emerge part-two focused specifically on Emerging Technologies and how innovation is addressing long-standing technology challenges in an exciting and accelerated fashion.
The day’s agenda was packed with panel discussions on how these advances are changing the world of government and what’s on the horizon for agencies as they navigate this change. The event also created an opportunity for a dozen GDIT technology partners to showcase their solutions and the ways GDIT has leveraged them in support of a number of mission-critical programs.
Here are five key highlights from the day:
1. Choice is Powerful and Important: GDIT’s partner ecosystem is broad and deep. More than a dozen partners joined the event to demonstrate their capabilities and talk about why they’re important to agencies in an ever-evolving technology landscape. As we have seen working with customers across the federal government, when choices are plentiful potential is infinite.
GDIT partners participating in this event included representatives from: UiPath, Dataiku and Nvidia (Artificial Intelligence); CloudBolt, Cloudera and Snowflake (Cloud); GitLab, Hashi Corp and Sysdig (DevSecOps); and Wickr, Tanium and Virsec (Cyber).
2. Building Cyber Resilience is Key: From agency databases, to retailers, to gas pipelines – we’re all aware of the havoc a cyberattack can wreak. But cybersecurity is about more than preventing or responding to attacks; it’s about building cyber resilience that enables organizations to defend against attacks and evolve their cybersecurity postures faster than ever by using cutting-edge technology to do it.
André Mendes, Chief Information Officer at the Department of Commerce, and Tim Persons, Chief Scientist, Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics at the Government Accountability Office talked shared first-hand accounts of how they are preparing federal systems to keep pace with evolving risks and complex technology environments.
Mendes talked about how the Department of Commerce’s mission is broad and diverse. As examples, he talked about how the Census Bureau securely completed the decennial almost entirely in cloud-based environments with half a million endpoints. He mentioned the Patent and Trademark’s work to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to accelerate patent reviews, facilitating innovation and intellectual property development in the United States. And he referenced the International Trade Administration as first 100-percent cloud-based agency. All of these things depend on robust and resilient cyber frameworks which enable the agencies to be flexible and to leverage these technologies and deliver on their missions.
Persons noted that things like AI, blockchain, cloud, and data analytics will soon reach the point of “general purpose technologies” where they disappear from our consciousness; meaning, we’ll take them for granted even though they are incredibly powerful technologies. We will just expect that they will be part of the landscape. In the same way, he said, cybersecurity will incorporate these technologies to build even greater resilience for agencies, infrastructure and.
3. Virtual Has Changed Virtually Everything: The shift to virtual IT environments, accelerated by the pandemic, drove major workplace transformations. Agencies and integrators alike leveraged new tools and forged new partnerships in order to execute on their missions. Together, we’ve proven that we can work differently without sacrificing our ability to innovate.
GDIT Vice President, Information Technology and Supply Chain and Global CIO, Kristie Grinnell moderated a panel discussion between Scott Flanders, Deputy Chief Information Officer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Sanjay Gupta, Chief Technology Officer at the Small Business Administration; and Mason McDaniel, Chief Technology Officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to talk about how their agencies are harnessing new technologies to innovate and power mission enablement.
Gupta noted that the Small Business Administration had to depend on a variety of emerging technology solutions to support more than $1 trillion in loans and capital for small businesses in the wake of the pandemic. He noted that “necessity is the mother of all innovation,” and talked about all the ways that technology allowed the agency to stay nimble and responsive to business owners in an intense time of need and uncertainty.
4. Collaboration Drives Innovation: Public and private sector partnerships are changing the game for mission delivery, showing that collaboration not only drives innovation, but sharpens and accelerates our ability to execute.
GDIT Deputy Chief Information Security Officer LaLisha Hurt moderated a panel discussion between Scott Blanchard, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at General Dynamics Mission Systems; Mark Fox, Manager for Defense Mission Programs at Amazon Web Services; and Mark Munsell, Former Chief Technology Officer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
On the topic of collaboration, Fox said “Commercial companies will always have the ability to build and deliver new services solutions fasters than our government customers can adopt them … it’s in our DNA.” But, he said, to get business done with federal customers, you need all three entities – government and agencies, the integrators, and the industry. Each of the three are necessary on a team, and that team will beat any team comprised of just one of the above. “We have to do this together; it can’t be done alone,” he said.
5. The Next Generation of STEM Leaders is Here and Impressive: One of the last sessions of the day was called “Stretch Your Mind and #STEMulate.” It convened high school and college-aged students for an engaging discussion on real-world STEM topics and concepts. It featured an IT demonstration from GDIT's Avengers Internship Team, talks from STEM professionals, a super-fun trivia game, and an information-packed presentation from an early-career recruiter.
We could not be more thrilled with the ways our former interns talked about their experiences at GDIT, or the level of interest from future GDIT internship candidates. The group asked interesting questions about leadership, teamwork, and communication – in addition to technology-related questions – demonstrating their readiness to be meaningful contributors to teams in lots of different ways. Their inquisitiveness and ingenuity make for a stellar combination. We know great things are ahead for them no matter where they land.
To be sure, this Emerge session was a fantastic one. You don’t want to miss out on the next event, which will be the final of this year’s events. The theme for that session, held on June 23, is the Defense Cloud. Join us for a discussion on how cloud is evolving the way defense agencies defend assets, support the warfighter and gain tactical advantages.