June 22, 2020

A Photo of the Entrance to the ActioNet Innovation Center

by Reuben M.

Disrupt or be disrupted.

Time and again, history has shown us the inevitability of this phrase. When you look at the fate of relic companies like Kodak or Blockbuster, you realize how important it is to be on the correct end of the disruption curve. On the other end of the spectrum are well-known innovators like Uber, Amazon, Facebook, or Airbnb (to name a few) which have taken traditional business models – and entire industries! – and turned them on their head by rejecting the status quo, leveraging evolving technologies, and creating new value.

We are experiencing in real-time significant transformational changes where emerging technologies are enabling things around us to interconnect, learn, interact, and automate. This Internet of Everything is changing tomorrow’s version of the world – the way we work won’t look the same and the skills we need to be successful will evolve. Consider the following:

  • IDC projects that by 2025 there will be nearly 42 billion connected devices generating almost 80 zettabytes (ZB) of data
  • Stratistics MRC reported the global cybersecurity market was valued at approximately $153 billion in 2018 and is estimated to burgeon to over $430 billion by 2027 — a CAGR of more than 12% during this period
  • Polling some of the largest technology and consulting firms in the world, Reports and Data’s research estimates emerging technologies like AI/ML, cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity, and predictive maintenance will propel expansion of the digital transformation market from $262 billion in 2018 to more than $1 trillion by 2026

The ActioNet Innovation Center (AIC) is our innovation and transformation catalyst for succeeding in an accelerating digital environment and our strategy for harnessing emerging capabilities to deliver solutions at the intersection of mission and technology. We are partnering with our clients to solve their toughest mission challenges and deliver solutions with impact. The AIC takes a data-driven approach by focusing on how data is:

  • Collected and secured: a solution has to consider how data is gathered and then where it is securely stored – whether on premises, in the cloud, or some hybrid alternative; without confidence that the data is secure, there is immediate disintegration of the value chain and inability to trust the data for informed decisions
  • Transformed into actionable intelligence: data on its own is essentially of no value; however, by applying advanced analytic techniques including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, the data suddenly become invaluable, thus converting information into insights
  • Enhancing operational intelligence: as we deliver solutions that matter, we inherently help clients realize enhancements to their operational environments, whether that be from more informed decision-making to lower costs to greater efficiencies to providing a greater customer experience (in line with our ActioNet Customer Experience focus)

The AIC is the embodiment of our plan to inspire a culture of innovation and digital transformation that embraces the highly complex challenges our clients face and leverages emerging technologies and world-class processes to partner with them to develop and deliver results that matter. Consider the last half of our corporate Mission Statement: “We work collaboratively with our customers and partners to effect NextGen Technology solutions to support the Nation’s most critical missions.” Our broad collection of subject matter experts with deep domain and client expertise are the lifeblood of everything we do. Combine that with our Core Value commitment of “compassion for others, society, community and world” and we have a compelling foundation with a focus on excellence in everything we do.

“If You Have Always Done it That Way, it is Probably Wrong”

This quote by famed inventor and businessman Charles Kettering sets the tone for why the AIC serves such a strategic function for ActioNet – with so much change all around us, we cannot expect to do the same things and get different results. Simply put, we must challenge the status quo and look through a different lens at the world around us, particularly regarding our clients’ challenges. At ActioNet, we have the unique perspective of being agile and unencumbered by layers of bureaucracy while maintaining a laser focus on our clients’ missions. But this is not enough. We have to provide differentiated and innovative solutions that set us apart from our competition throughout the entire lifecycle of our partnership with each of our customers.

To do this, we have to propel teams of “big idea” thinkers who are not afraid to take big swings, and sometimes fail, but who then quickly learn and are able to rapidly and intelligently pivot towards solutions that have actual mission impact by leveraging our AIC. We’re focused on building and showcasing solutions in the AIC that are bigger than just the technology. True digital transformation occurs when there is a holistic change of business strategy, processes, talent, culture, and yes… technology… to meet evolving market demands and better achieve mission success. Our clients speak mission, so should our solutions.

AIC’s Holistic Value To Our Clients

As ActioNet is doubling down on its innovation imperative, it is incumbent that we correlate the AIC’s functions to actual value to our clients – driving digital transformation and delivery excellence as well as serving as a benchmark for innovation leadership in the marketplace.

AIC Functions

Benefits to our Clients

Digital Solutions – We bring direct mission knowledge
and industry-leading innovation and engineering
expertise across the solutions lifecycle
Enhanced focus on bringing innovation earlier into our solutioning process
Greater solution alignment with mission requirements
Operational Support – Identify and drive client innovation
initiatives which deliver strategic value through technical,
solutions, and SME support
Help clients develop and/or achieve their innovation roadmap
Closer alignment with clients on identifying and executing new innovation opportunities
Executive Briefing and Showcase Center – Showcase and
demo solutions to our clients; physical and virtual
collaboration space; host our COEs
Socially distanced innovation and collaboration ecosystem of the future for safer ideation and solutioning
Stimulates “big idea” thinking; transforms “art of the possible” into tangible demos
Technology Strategy, Partnerships and R&D – Infusion
of current trends and hands on experience with emerging
technologies; maturation of strategic technology partnerships
Greater and more rapid access to emerging technologies and IP
Accelerates solutions from ideation to market-ready capability by leveraging strategic alliances
Professional Development – Employee upskilling; continuing professional education; certifications; knowledge sharing;
Innovation Champions
More effective employee attraction, recruitment, and retention
Provide clients with highly skilled workforce with latest relevant certifications/training
Thought Leadership and Marketing –Technology showcasing; technical demonstrations; white paper development; lean processes Demonstrates ActioNet’s thought leadership and holistic value propositions to our clients
Process and performance acceleration/ improvement

Discipline: Delivering Innovation with Impact

We apply a focused strategy and are taking a measured approach to innovation and to what we decide to pursue. We are looking at every innovation opportunity through three distinct lenses:

  1. Customer Desirability: Do customers need it?
  2. Technical Feasibility: Is it a core capability?
  3. Business Viability: Will our investment return value?

Only by being purpose-driven will we maximize our investments and our clients realize actual value in the innovations we are delivering.

Our Practice Areas Ensure a Focused Approach to Innovation

Using this disciplined approach to innovation, we have identified three initial practice areas based on our significant experience as well as the addressable market in these areas.

  1. Cybersecurity: Our Cybersecurity practice understands the vital importance to national security that a strong cyber posture represents and is deploying capabilities across the cyber lifecycle including: security operations; information assurance (IA) and risk management; governance and policy management; security protection, detection, response, and recovery; and IT and OT security.
  2. Agile Engineering: Our Agile Engineering practice has a focus on agile development and DevSecOps throughout the entire systems development lifecycle; software development and integration; documenting processes and creating tools/accelerators.
  3. Shared Services: With significant experience on various infrastructure engineering, our Shared Services practice is building managed services capabilities including: IT Service Management (ITSM); help desk operations; IaaS implementations; and cloud migrations.

For each of the above practice areas, and in line with our Core Values of “drive to success and innovate” and “partnership for success”, we are actively evaluating when to build a capability versus when it’s smarter to leverage our strategic technology partners such as ServiceNow, AWS, Oracle, and others. Value is often measured in speed to market – or, more appropriately for our clients, speed to mission – and we are working with our alliance partners to rapidly deploy world-class capabilities significantly faster than reinventing the wheel on our own.

Additionally, to propel success within our practice areas, we are prepared to underlay core enabling capabilities such as DevSecOps, data analytics (including AI/ML), our proven ActioNet Customer Experience (ACX) approach, cloud computing, and IOT across the AIC. As we support increasingly data-driven missions, we are committed to incorporating mature data ingest, exploration, and discovery tools combined with hybrid infrastructure environments, visually engaging user interfaces, and focused journey mapping processes as part of our ACX approach to ensure we are rapidly delivering the highest quality and value to our customers and positioning our practice areas – and ultimately, our programs – for greater success.

Designing a Post-Covid Innovation Space With a Focus on Safe Collaboration

The most dramatic and visible transformation planned this coming year is to our current AIC room at headquarters which we are expanding into a socially distanced innovation and collaboration ecosystem of the future for safer ideation and solutioning. This dynamic physical showcase and executive briefing center is being expanded across a significant portion of the 6th floor and will provide a more modern and highly interactive space with the latest in health and safety design considerations where we bring both our teams as well as our clients to:

  • Collaborate and ideate on “art of the possible” ideas,
  • Transform these concepts into proof of concepts,
  • Stage and demo our solutions, and
  • Turn vision into ACTION!

The AIC And You

We are committed to continuing to inspire and reignite an innovation culture at ActioNet. Success will be realized through concerted and active engagement with YOU, our ActioNet community. Your energy and passion are the fuel we need to help drive greater innovation momentum both across the company as well as in our client spaces. For more information on our AIC, please contact AIC@actionet.com to learn more about our innovation journey. We look forward to working with you to tackle your toughest mission challenges together.