Artificial intelligence has grown rapidly in the government contract space in recent years. According Aves richexecutive vice president of business development for the defense and intelligence sector at ParsonsAI will be “the hallmark of future solutions”.
ExecutiveBiz spoke with Aves to learn more about how AI can be used in the federal landscape, what it takes to attract and retain talent that can meet emerging mission needs, key drivers contributing to the recent growth of Parsons and more.
Read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Rich Aves below.
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about recent growth initiatives at Parsons? How do you drive value for your clients through contracting, acquisitions and other aspects across the federal sector?
Rich Aves: Our recent growth is based on a concerted effort to “move up the value chain” for our customers. We achieve this by delivering next-generation intelligent solutions that leverage the full capabilities of our pioneering, technically diverse organization, which spans two major market segments: Critical Infrastructure and Federal Solutions.
On the critical infrastructure side of our business, we’re leveraging high-level engineering capabilities all over the world, and we’re finding that we’re able to couple that with technology solutions and customer assets on the federal side of home, which gives positive results. This synergy has allowed us to bring truly unique and, in many cases, one-of-a-kind solutions to our customers and makes Parsons a trusted source for micro and macro solutions – from earth to outer space. atmospheric.
We also expanded our portfolio to broaden our defense capabilities through strategic acquisitions. Xator and BlackHorse, two of our most recent acquisitions, have significantly enhanced our offerings by expanding our counter-UAS and electronic warfare capabilities. The integration of Xator and BlackHorse capabilities into the Parsons portfolio has enhanced our overall growth and in many cases is guiding the trajectory of our defense business and we are focused on pursuing opportunities to be the premier supplier of these differentiated solutions.
ExecutiveBiz: Following the success of your recent quarterly results, what were the key factors that drove this company-wide performance and how will you continue to work to capitalize on this success going forward?
Aves: “We had a very good quarter and it’s teamwork. From a revenue perspective, we are focused on maximizing and optimizing our opportunities. Achieving this goal starts with a strong team and we have had strong recruiting and retention across the company. This is critical to maintaining the high performing team needed to help us grow revenue from existing contracts and position us for continued growth in the future.
We also had a good year from a growth perspective. We have established task order contracts that we are able to execute, which has been a good pillar for our growth this year. We were able to use these contracts to leverage a variety of customer needs and provide solutions. We have the contract vehicles in place to easily enter a revenue-generating state.
In Federal Solutions and Critical Infrastructure, we’ve seen pretty strong growth this year driven by pricing. The critical infrastructure sector in particular is benefiting from international growth and the infrastructure bill will create many opportunities for us to achieve more results in the future within our federal solutions sector.
The markets in which we operate are well funded and growing, and we believe we are well positioned to grow. But the cornerstone of our success will always be execution, excellence and the ability to recruit and retain the right people, and so far we have done very well.
ExecutiveBiz: With artificial intelligence and machine learning having a huge impact on most industries and the US military as we move forward, what impressed you most about the technology’s capabilities to improve decision-making in the federal sector? How can AI be used to address some of the biggest challenges you see in your industry?
Aves: “AI is a tool that all of our customers need and want, and the main driver of it is data digestion and the ability to make better, more informed decisions at scale and volume.
From a defense and intelligence perspective, we see a lot of information that needs to be digested and analyzed, and this has exceeded the capacity of human personnel to be able to effectively use all the data that is available to us.
We leverage the expertise we have had in this area for several years and use AI to ensure we make more informed decisions.
We use this expertise on the critical infrastructure side when it comes to things like traffic volume metrics and using AI to develop smart cities – a lot of data has to go into this design. We look at things like 5G placement and human behaviors that will shape the landscape and scale of 5G infrastructure. When we are able to consume and streamline this data through the use of AI, we are able to take the guesswork out and design the infrastructure of the future that meets the needs of end users.
On the home space side, we’re applying AI to do things like automating ground control capability for satellites – we often call it “lights out operations”, where you don’t need to have a person behind a console to continuously ground control a constellation. We can automate this, through artificial intelligence, to set the right parameters and have the right data analytics to ensure that the best trade-offs are made when it comes to resources such as airtime.
We also developed an AI-enabled weapon target matching algorithm called TEMPO, which stands for Tactical Electronic Warfare Machine Learning Planning Optimization. It’s something that we produced from an electronic warfare planning perspective that maximizes our ability to deploy assets and defeat some of the adversary’s electronic warfare capabilities.
These are all things that Parsons is involved in, and it’s exciting for us. We believe that AI is going to be the hallmark of solutions in the future.
ExecutiveBiz: We often discuss innovation on the technical or capability side. What are some of the unique challenges you’ve seen on the business side of innovation that haven’t been sufficiently addressed or discussed?
Aves: “The challenge is to make the right decisions and innovate in the right spaces for the market you are in. I think Parsons has done a really good job of that, and it’s been driven primarily by communicating closely with our customers and knowing what the challenges are that we need to innovate against.
This is one of the reasons we have developed our PALADIN laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground – it is our center of innovation, where we work in partnership with customers to introduce new capabilities. Customers can enter and test these capabilities against their mission needs and use the lab as a place to collaborate and identify which capabilities we need to invest in and which will be the best value for their mission.
Innovation is at the heart of Parsons’ culture, and it’s very important to our continued growth. We’re in a tough hiring environment, and to attract the right talent, we need to understand that people want to come where innovation is at the forefront. People want to come to where they’re going to be able to do cool stuff and develop cool new things – that’s been central to our approach to the market and what we’re trying to communicate to those who would be potential employees.
Our motto is “Imagine Next”, which encapsulates the essence of this team’s commitment to welcoming and incubating innovative minds. As we move forward in growing and executing our business, staying relevant will require unbridled innovation. It’s a challenge we’re happy to take on.
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