In the latest Executive Spotlight interview, Katharyn White, vice president of the U.S. Federal Ecosystem at IBM, spoke with ExecutiveBiz to discuss the company’s recent announcement that its IBM Ecosystem continues to grow in the federal market.
In addition, White also discussed the new related initiatives coming out of IBM with ExecutiveBiz as well as how IBM’s technology can enable greater collaboration and accelerate solutions to address the challenges facing our industry and what that means for the federal sector.
“IBM is laser focused on open hybrid cloud and AI, which we believe are the dominant forces driving change for the federal government. IBM’s open hybrid cloud platform can serve as a catalyst for innovation upon which ecosystem partners can build solutions for federal government clients.”
You can read the full interview with Katharyn White below:
ExecutiveBiz: First and foremost, congratulations on rejoining IBM and becoming the lead of Federal Ecosystem efforts for the company! Can you please introduce yourself and how you got here?
Katharyn White: “As a native Arlingtonian who has lived and worked around the world, it is good to be home – in both location and rejoining IBM.
I believe in the power of public and private partnership to solve complex problems, and I believe the current world situation requires urgency.
Diverse teams have the power to do great things. I find it both a privilege and an obligation to lead a diverse ecosystem in service of the federal government.”
ExecutiveBiz: Why has it become so important for IBM to launch an ecosystem initiative now?
Katharyn White: “The issues facing our world are large, complex, and urgent. They are systems problems that are being addressed point by point, often year over year.
Recent executive orders on topics like supply chain, cybersecurity, citizen services and sustainability may be individual systems issues, but they are also cross-agency and connected in complexity and solutioning.
They call for industry and government to work together – proactively and collectively. The need is immediate and compelling, and as a trusted partner to the federal government and business, we felt now was the right time to step up in a more formal way.”
ExecutiveBiz: How is the ecosystem defined in this context?
Katharyn White: “The IBM Ecosystem is a significant growth driver for the company as a whole and its partners, including systems integrators, technology and infrastructure companies, developers, and small businesses.
IBM’s federal market is working to leverage the strengths, breadth, and experience of those partners to pull together solutions for federal agencies tackling today’s most complex challenges.
This is both possible and required when the issues are as big and complex as the ones before us.”
ExecutiveBiz: What does the actual initiative look like and what will it entail?
Katharyn White: “We are kicking off our effort with three initiatives:
Systems integrator initiative to support companies with our technology, technical resources and expertise. We will also increase go-to-market investment alongside participating partners. We expect this will deliver faster time to impact for our federal government clients.
Small business initiative to help small businesses access skills, mentoring and teaming opportunities in support of their government business development efforts.
As we know, the government requires that at least 23 percent of prime government contract dollars are awarded to eligible small businesses.
This can mean that even if we are fully integrated across the large players, government must still play an integration role if we do not fully engage the ecosystem of small businesses.
To this end, we have tools that help small businesses become more visible to potential partners. Getting registered on PartnerWorld is the first step, and then with our partner finder tool, IBM Business Partner Directory, any of our ecosystem partners can search for small businesses with skills required for a specific program or project.
In addition, we refined our SkillsBuild curriculum to certify small businesses on zero trust in support of the cybersecurity-specific executive order and we’re teaming with George Mason University Center for Government Contracting to support small businesses to more effectively maneuver the government contracting process.
We feel that these initiatives will help proactively integrate small businesses into larger federal government opportunities across the ecosystem.
And finally, we have launched issue-focused working groups (yes, even competitive) with the intent of helping pull together integrated solutions to address the broad challenges facing federal government agencies. More to come on insights and outputs.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does IBM technology enable this collaboration or fast track solutions?
Katharyn White: “I believe that most of the change is behavioral in how we work together across the ecosystem, and just as all ecosystems must be open minded, so should the technology.
IBM is laser focused on open hybrid cloud and AI, which we believe are the dominant forces driving change for the federal government. IBM’s open hybrid cloud platform can serve as a catalyst for innovation upon which ecosystem partners can build solutions for federal government clients.
This framework, built on top of Red Hat OpenShift, can enable our partners to use our open technology to tap into new and existing federal government opportunities and adapt and integrate best of breed technical solutions over time.”
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything more you’d like to share with us?
Katharyn White: “Yes, we will continue to strengthen the ecosystem with initiatives and impact. Join us as we strengthen our collective impact.”