Josh Jackson, senior vice president and portfolio lead for Science Applications International Corp.’s U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps business, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview discussing SAIC’s recent $556 million Technical Services Navy contract award win.
In addition, Jackson also shared his thoughts and first hand experiences with the Navy’s human resource applications, the challenges facing the service branch’s tactical threat systems as well as SAIC’s CloudScend capabilities and more.
“We tend to forget that sometimes, transformation is hard. It’s messy and often takes several twists and turns before transformation actually occurs. Fundamentally, it’s a human endeavor and we can’t forget that, no matter how advanced our technology is, we need to see innovation as a human endeavor and that organizational change has to be considered.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Josh Jackson below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on last week’s $556M Technical Services Navy contract! How will SAIC use its experience to help improve the Navy’s human resources service delivery and MyNavy HR applications?
Josh Jackson: “The U.S. Navy is an extremely large and complex enterprise. On any given day and at any given minute, sailors secure our freedoms across the globe. We’re really proud to support some of the HR applications for the service branch today. We continue to do that for our nation and we look forward to doing more.
We believe that by creating a stable and scalable hosting environment, we can help to position the Navy and allow its personnel to access their systems and data from anywhere and on any device. That’s the Navy’s vision, which we’re very happy and eager to support. SAIC has a long legacy of doing this kind of work not just the Navy, but also the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.
The reason why data has become so important is we all want to have the ability to identify trends in the information without compromising personal identifiable information (PII). This will allow the Navy to make data-driven decisions about personnel, investments in their sailors and advancing their careers as well.
In addition to running all the other aspects of HR that we do with a number of U.S. service branches, we’ve applied a lot of lessons that we learned across our portfolio to bring the very best to the Navy. The concept is that sailors need to focus on the mission, not HR issues.
At the end of the day, these HR applications just need to fundamentally work and they need to work well in the background and need to be scalable. We’re focused on helping the Navy achieve that vision for their HR applications.”
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on the $93M Navy Tactical Threat Systems contract too! What are the most significant challenges surrounding the U.S. Navy’s threat systems and the impact that R&D, cyber, data collection and other areas of the contract will have on the Navy’s capabilities?
Josh Jackson: “This is really an exciting area that SAIC also has a good legacy supporting. In the electronic warfare domain, the challenges that we foresee in the near term will be in spectrum. Our vision is to support what the Navy is trying to accomplish in their own electronic warfare vision, which is about going into combat with knowledge, training and the experience necessary to leverage the technology and overcome any threat.
We envision achieving this by improving realism as well as reliability. Those are three important aspects of the electronic warfare training ranges. That’s a big chunk of what this contract is all about and why we wanted to win it, which includes range debriefing systems so we can accurately assess air crew and craft performance.
You’ll be able to fly a virtual or real mission on a training range, which will provide us data on how the air crew performed and the aircraft itself performed. That’s an important piece of this effort from a research and development standpoint.
The other aspect is data and looking at aircraft tracking mechanisms and data collection for things like the tactics, techniques and procedures that were implemented. How were they implemented? By being able to measure those and receive that data, we can drive to the ultimate goal of having the capability to detect, identify and defeat our adversaries. That’s what electronic warfare is all about in the end.
Obviously, cybersecurity is key and essential to most, if not all of this. Cybersecurity controls are essential to ensure that we not only protect our capabilities and the electronic warfare domain, but we’re also exploiting vulnerabilities that we see in our adversaries.
When it comes to training, you really have to think creatively and leverage technology to ensure positive training outcomes in the electronic warfare domain. From a warfighting standpoint, you want to ensure good learning in every training event. It’s expensive to spend time on the range leveraging the aircraft and aircrews’ time. So we want to make sure that every event is for a system that’s tested or experimented with and creates valuable data. That’s our approach to the electronic warfare domain.”
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about SAIC’s CloudScend capabilities to drive cloud migration and optimization for the Navy’s IT modernization efforts? You’ve said that digital transformation is a team sport, so how will your team’s efforts improve the Navy’s capabilities at the warfighter level?
Josh Jackson: “This is another exciting area, especially for me personally. I spent some time in the horizontal parts of the business before I focused on our Navy portfolio. An embedded cloud management suite is a really nice tool to have in your toolbox.
As a technology-agnostic integrator, SAIC takes the latest and greatest technology, regardless of who’s building it or who developed it, and brings the best to address our problem sets instead of building something that’s monolithic and tightly locked down. We’re taking a modular, open systems approach to building all of our solutions.
We look at and focus on analyzing the applications and the services just in case our main customer, my main customer of the Navy, digs deeper into how they’re using the applications, how they’re consuming data and storage, and making adjustments to ensure that the architecture is cost-effective and efficient.
One of the things that we’ve spent a lot of time doing is collaboratively rearchitecting the applications, the data and the entire solution, whether it’s leveraging a private, public hybrid cloud. SAIC’s CloudScend offers the flexibility and scalability to do all of those things in a secure manner while you’re simultaneously modernizing your software applications to work inside of that architecture.
It provides our customers the maximum level of control over their capabilities. The ability to accommodate as many or as few users as they need on any given day, that’s the value of the cloud. You can scale it up or down. The value that we bring is that you could have that ability across multiple cloud environments, not just one.
You mentioned my view on digital transformation as a ‘team sport.’ I’m very passionate about the concept that digital transformation is transformation. We often focus on the digital piece or the technology piece, but fundamentally, it’s all about transformation plain and simple.
We tend to forget that sometimes, transformation is hard. It’s messy and often takes several twists and turns before transformation actually occurs. Fundamentally, it’s a human endeavor and we can’t forget that, no matter how advanced our technology is, we need to see innovation as a human endeavor and that organizational change has to be considered.
Our overall approach to digital transformation includes cool technologies but also a fundamental change in architecture and the approach around that. That’s an equal aspect in my view, if not more important than whatever technology you have inside of that wrapper.
At the end of the day for me, you’ve got sailors that are on ships or a submarine, or in aircraft, and they’re trying to get a task done in support of the mission. We’re obsessively focused on improving that sailor’s ability to get that task done and their team’s ability to get the mission executed. I think digital transformation is a team sport and requires that holistic approach.”