Sept. 11, 2001 will be remembered as a day of unprecedented tragedy for the United States,and as a watershed for America's security policy. Senior Bush administration officials have warned that America's "new war" on terrorism will be a protracted campaign involving enormous military, intelligence, law-enforcement, diplomatic and financial resources.
Above all, the terrorist attacks have underscored that "security" is no longer the exclusive purview of the Department of Defense, CIA, FBI or scores of other dedicated intelligence and justice-related agencies. Although the United States devotes billions of dollars each year to intelligence-gathering activities, the sophistication and reach of terrorist organizations require a more integrated approach. National security and intelligence gathering now must reach across government jurisdictions into what have traditionally been considered civilian agencies.
What will this transformed conception of security mean for solution providers? Given the nature of the response from government officials, solution providers in the federal space will need to be increasingly flexible and responsive to changing policies, organizational missions and technology requirements. They must be willing to work with government end users in unconventional ways and under tighter security.
The international aspect to the campaign, and its multilateral essence, will necessitate dramatically enhanced integration of government processes and infrastructures across national borders. The result will be an increased need for data warehousing, wireless devices, systems integration, enterprise security software, network hardware, remote sensing technologies, logistics, collaborative tools (such as videoconferencing, peer-to-peer computing and groupware), e-learning, and all manner of analytical, case and records management, along with imaging and storage solutions.
The coming campaign to eradicate terrorism, however, may only be a precursor to a broader transformation in the operations of the U.S. government. The post-Cold War world is rife with other equally thorny challenges, including threats posed by rogue states, state failure, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics trafficking, international organized crime, an antiglobalization backlash, assaults on markets and information warfare. Terrorism may be the clearest and most sinister manifestation of those new threats, but it is far from the only one that will affect the business of government.
While this year's Quadrennial Defense Review has largely focused on the recapitalization of America's defense capabilities and the reallocation of what had come to be known as the "peace dividend," the current policy debate will now undoubtedly shift from one of modernization to one of reform. A renovated notion of national security will fundamentally alter the work of the federal government and its business requirements, a reality that solution providers must recognize--and help to shape.
James Macaulay is a partner with Laguna Woods, Calif.-based VerticalSpark, a market research and sales consultancy exclusively serving the solution-provider community. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.