Throughout Anthony Verna’s 30-year career in the private sector, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in strategy, business development, operations and technology.
Verna, who currently serves as senior vice president and general manager of Cubic Mission & Performance Solutions’ DTECH Mission Solutions business unit, was drawn to the company for the opportunity it presented to work with an array of advanced technologies. Since then, he has spent over a decade with the organization, where he has also served as chief growth officer, leading strategy, business development and sales.
In a recent Executive Spotlight interview, Verna spoke with ExecutiveBiz about Cubic’s edge solutions, government contracting industry trends and the path to delivering technology to federal customers.
Where are you seeing opportunities for expansion in the CMPS portfolio? What new capabilities or markets are you eyeing?
It is definitely our edge solutions portfolio – we are expanding the presence we have today, implementing more integrated solutions from within our portfolio and from our partners. Cubic is a leader in providing baseband communications for command post use cases. We are expanding the market position that we have achieved with key customers in the U.S. Army, and the special operations community and pursuing opportunities across the DOD, the intelligence community and selected commercial markets.
Our edge compute family of systems allow users across military branches to connect, curate and analyze mission critical data, enabling a persistent information advantage. We tend to think of it as being mission-engineered for the edge with powerful computing and networking capabilities to deliver outcomes in support of multi-domain operations.
Further, as a market leader, we are mission proven, with a kit that has demonstrated to be highly reliable. Our products are key enablers for data-centric operations in austere environments. We apply mission-forward thinking, and perpetually innovate to help our customers address evolving threats and future use cases for their next mission.
What significant changes or trends are you seeing, and how are those factors moving the GovCon industry market?
Frankly, the last couple of years have been challenging with supply chain disruptions and talent shortages, so we have had to heighten our agility, improve our ability to make decisions and drive greater focus. We have also had to create new approaches for material and labor planning, look toward the broader future and develop strategic stamina around our key pursuits that we are after.
This has resulted in us developing new methods to balance delivery and inventory to meet the needs of our customers, which has made us much more agile and efficient. I believe we are starting to see these results reflected in the market.
Where are you seeing the most exciting opportunities to deliver better capabilities to our warfighters today, and how are you harnessing these opportunities?
For decades, the U.S. was able to maintain a technological advantage that provided operational overmatch against our adversaries. Today, our defense customers are racing to sustain those advantages and restore operational dominance across the competition and conflict continuum over the rapidly evolving threat landscape.
The pacing of threats drives a new set of mission requirements and capabilities for emerging operational concepts, such as multi-domain operations and Joint All-Domain Command and Control. In this context, the ability to securely share vast amounts of sensor and command and control data across a broad multi-domain battle space is critical to maintaining operational dominance.
When viewed in that light, the ability to transform data to remove time from the mission chain is more important than ever. Cubic’s edge compute and networking platforms help deliver this information advantage by enabling end users to connect, secure and analyze mission critical data at the edge.
Our solutions are mission engineered for rugged and harsh conditions that are often at the edge of the battlespace. We build this capability right in – we do not just integrate piece parts. Cubic is the first in the industry to do this and we are excited about our planned innovations that will further raise the bar. We design the required interoperability, reliability and ruggedization into our small form factor modules to deliver secure mission critical data at the point of need.
What’s the most challenging aspect of transitioning from R&D and prototyping to actually fielding a new technology or solution?
The main concern is balancing the investment risk within the government-industry partnership. Our customers have challenging timelines and a high level of volatility in their requirements, so we must manage our investment of capital to provide the solutions they need while understanding that the timeline is dynamic.
The feedback loop in industry after prototyping or demonstrations is important because a great deal of effort goes into creating capability with business risk in the beginning, where the company must align their investment and technology roadmaps to perceived points of need. We must get to a level of technical readiness or capability threshold so we can get it to be mature enough – to be ready. Can we get it to the next stage? Can we produce it at scale? Or will it languish in our customer’s acquisition organization? It is critical to measure incremental progress along the way and be bold enough to push through challenges or bold enough to stop and replan. Stamina for an overall strategy is critical. So, while we operate tactically, it is important to keep a long view.
Managing the timeframe and the maturity of the product to coincide with acquisition decisions is a key aspect. It can take a little while to get products technically mature and to position them in the hands of the warfighters and on platforms. Many good ideas never make it to the customer as the timelines to convert technology to products can seem to always delay. This challenge is pretty well known, and hence the technology conversion process takes on the nickname of “the valley of death.”
There are hard integration decisions and very complex acquisition processes that must be taken into account. These are a lot of the challenges industry must deal with, and you solve them by being close to the customer, trying to drive agility and perpetually innovating.
We live in a world where omnipresent sensors track people, organizations, vehicles and systems all around the world in both the physical and virtual realms. How is your organization adapting and responding to the proliferation of sensors and the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things?
Every user or edge node collects a large amount of raw data and distributes it both vertically and laterally amongst themselves using command and control networks and back to the enterprise at large. The need to extract the raw data and convert it into actionable intelligence to inform mission critical decisions are key to being able to execute plans in near real time.
Getting the right information to the right platform and the right decision maker at the speed and scale needed dramatically shortens decision cycles in kinetic and non-kinetic effects chains. Cubic provides that compute and networking infrastructure and we deliver those capabilities at the edge. We have worked hard over the recent months to put the “labs” back into DTECH Labs. The result will be solutions that meet our customers’ needs today and into the future.