We’ve all heard about the big names in the defense industry – Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, the list goes on. These companies win big contracts and contribute to important advancements that keep the US tech and defense industries on top. On the military side, Lockheed is putting the finishing touches on the F-35 Lightning II for the Air Force, Raytheon is developing Precision and Approach Landing Systems on Navy aircraft carriers, and Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are partnering to help the Army advance its cyber and electronic warfare capabilities. On the civilian side, the Department of Homeland Security is taking the lead on election security, FireEye is working to secure civil infrastructure networks and data assets, even Amazon has entered the arena with the recent Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract intending to broaden the scope of cloud services. Given the recent success of major companies, it makes sense why they remain in the spotlight. Their decisions indicate industry trends and generate competition that spurs innovation. However, the activity of such industry leaders does not always give us the whole picture. Organizations that bring their specialized skill sets to partnerships and remain forward-thinking are those working behind the scenes overseeing the many moving parts.
Some organizations and leaders of such groups could be considered the ‘unsung heroes’ that keep the gears turning behind the curtain. For example, it might be somewhat easy to overlook companies that develop and work in IT or consulting—they’re not out engineering the next generation aircraft or weapons system. Instead, they provide solutions that enable other businesses to improve efficiency and streamline productivity. US-based companies such as Techdata and ThirdEye Data may be less visible, yet they provide essential and innovative technology services to both government and private sectors with the goal of leveraging confidence, which one could argue is one of the most important aspects in business. To take an example from the government, the Defense Digital Service (DDS) as an agency team of the US Digital Service under the Department of Defense (DoD) is forward-focused on building and deploying better services and solutions for military and civilian applications. This across-the-board effort helps solidify the defense industry standards. The more interconnected the world becomes, these types of initiatives matter. Similarly, to most other organizations in the national security and tech fields, the agency is currently seeking out DoD personnel with engineering, hacking, research, coding and other technical experience to help advance their mission.
Much of the heavy lifting that is necessary to propel the industry forward is done at various levels, from organizations that conduct research to small businesses that develop or advance technologies. Further avenues of opportunity are often created when businesses work in tandem with each other to accomplish the goals set by the industry and government. The collaboration required to fulfilling the expectations and duties written in contracts usually means that credit is given where credit is due, and reputability certainly goes a long way. One important aspect that helps develop this credibility is the identification of business partnership opportunities where companies can bring their specialized expertise to create real government solutions. Here, partnerships are essential. Likewise, as businesses reorient their priorities and adapt to changes in culture, hiring and recognizing the talents of women, minorities and veterans has become a prime focus of many organizations. This is one of CACI’s many goals, which has over 5,000 veteran and active duty employees, accounting for nearly 30% of their workforce. The success of this organization can largely be attributed to this dynamic, and other companies seem to be following suit with these good business practices. Here at Praescient, we attribute our forward-thinking perspective in part from the leadership of women and veterans alike, with almost half of our staff hailing from the Armed Forces.
Countless companies and government agencies have taken the initiative to collaborate and innovate with the goal of advancing their organizations. It all boils down to providing support for those who make decisions that have real-world impact, whether in business, lawmaking, municipal functions, and especially in data analytics. Big industry leaders have their role, and an important one at that, but many of the foundational aspects that keep the gears turning within the government space originate from mission-focused, specialized organizations, and Praescient is proud to be one of them.