Q&A with Craig White, principal
Who are Deloitte’s core geospatial customers and what services do you offer them?
The firm’s engagement in the geospatial space is concentrated in two areas. One is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). We started our work with the agency almost 20 years ago supporting financial management operations, but that’s just a fraction of our business today. Now we provide a number of additional services such as portfolio management, cloud strategy, cyber risk analysis, customer segmentation, big data analytics, and process automation—to name a few. Additionally, we now provide full lifecycle human capital services to NGA’s Human Development Directorate, which is very exciting. Today we work with pretty much all of the NGA directorates, which we are very proud of.
The other area of geospatial support is the commercial side of our business, directly helping vendors and clients leverage geospatial data in a way that fits their method of operations. Data is very powerful, especially when you look at, for example, a major retailer’s operations where we helped investigate how geospatial trends might trigger buyer behavior.
Do you have any tips or tricks to share about working effectively with government?
It seems pretty basic, but it starts with listening and understanding what your client’s needs are. That’s a step some in the business may miss. At Deloitte, we think hard about the client’s problem, listen to what they are up against, and try to bring the full power of Deloitte against those particular challenges. When working with the government—or any client in any industry—consider how to bring the appropriate solutions to them based on their specific challenges or obstacles.
What are some geospatial projects Deloitte currently supports?
We’re doing some pretty interesting work around cyber reconnaissance and supply chain illumination that we’re excited about. Our teams are using open-source information in both of those projects to provide fact-based insight to NGA to help them understand cyber threats and possible vulnerabilities in their supply chain. We are also off-and-running on a project to help the agency realize its vision of automating regimented processes.
What differentiates Deloitte from other advisory firms?
We are the largest consultancy in the world. This isn’t important because bigger is better, it’s important because we can look at the global, commercial challenges we’ve helped clients deal with, and help our federal clients apply those best practices in an appropriate way. We believe that makes us unique.
One example is helping NGA realize its vision for automation. We’ve been able to take automation capabilities applied in the commercial space and tune them to the federal market to begin application at NGA. Our focus at NGA is helping take rudimentary, rule-based activities out of the hands of overworked individuals and automating them to free people up to focus on more complex challenges.
What are some GEOINT trends you’re witnessing and how will those trends impact the community in the future?
The first that comes to mind is the challenge around human capital. We are directly engaged with NGA in this area. As the agency continues to pivot its style of operations, it is faced with the challenge of helping the current workforce transition their skills and capabilities to serve that future operating model. We’ve also done some interesting work to strengthen their talent acquisition methods. We are working in collaboration with a St. Louis-based nonprofit called LaunchCode to provide technology job-seekers with accessible training, paid apprenticeship, and then job placement. That’s the sort of innovative solution NGA will need going forward.
Another top-of-mind trend we are seeing is the use of advanced analytics to inform decision-making in all aspects of operations. The challenge is to take a vast amount of data, use it to support tactical decision-making, and then pivot to support the broader strategic actions the agency needs to take. As NGA continues to harness advanced analytics and other technologies it will improve efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation. This is critical because the geospatial marketplace will continue to evolve at an ever-quickening pace.