Bucking the IT industry trend to redouble overtures toward the government while homeland security is hot and the economy is not, Lockheed Martin Corp. is trying to boost its IT profile in the private sector. Part of the reason is that the companys federal clients want a better idea of best practices at commercial organizations.
Last week, Lockheed Martins systems integration division in Owego, N.Y., trumpeted a consulting service and products package called ARQuest, which shows enterprises how to reduce costs, reduce errors and shorten production cycles by optimizing technology. The process typically takes between two and five months, beginning with risk assessment, defining an architecture model and ultimately delivering specific recommendations.
"There are tremendous synergies between the commercial sector and the government sector," Kathryn Hasse, director of Lockheed Martins Commercial and Transportation Solutions division, said at Gartner Inc.s ITxpo here. "Our government customers are looking for us to bring commercial best practices back to them."
Fluor Corp., a publicly held engineering and construction company in Aliso Viejo, Calif., is one of the earliest ARQuest customers. Building massive projects such as pipelines, oil refineries and chemical plants across the globe, the company sought a centralized IT infrastructure despite different needs at different sites.
"We could be doing a project in the middle of a desert in Saudi Arabia and another in Siberia," said Ray Barnard, CIO at Fluor.
Barnard said he turned to Lockheed Martin because he was dissatisfied with other IT consulting companies, particularly with overruns and unreliable schedules. In addition, strategic alliances, rather than his companys best interests, often seemed to drive decision making among the traditional IT consultants, he said.
Lockheed Martins legacy as a supplier to the military and government also attracted Fluor because it is often involved in highly secure projects, including building nuclear power plants, Barnard said.
"I like the idea that if you can build stealth bombers and you can build airports, theres no more security needed than needed on that," Barnard said.
Through the ARQuest process, Barnard established a new middleware strategy that met heightened security requirements and demanded fewer management personnel, he said. This year alone, Fluor is saving $22 million in operating costs, Barnard said.
The overlap between public- and private-sector IT vendors and the cross-pollination that government and commercial IT needs is particularly beneficial to companies such as Fluor, which works in both spheres. "I think theres going to be more of a melding where that comes together," Barnard said, adding that he must meet standards that cover both sectors.