Five Big Technology Bets General Dynamics IT Is Making

A CTO With The Future In His Crosshairs

Fresh off General Dynamics’ announcement that it is supplying Google Cloud products to federal partners through the Schedule 70 federal purchasing program, the company’s chief technology officer, Yogesh Khanna, talked to CRN about where the smart money is going in IT.

With more than 30 years of experience in IT, systems engineering, information assurance, financial services, and telecommunications, Khanna is a subject matter expert for General Dynamics Information Technology, and uses his in-depth knowledge of market trends, challenges and regulations to lead the company’s technology office.

Khanna said in the near-term expect greater cloud adoption to help customers to scale and to avoid a budget crunch. But not too far down the road, Khanna said automation is coming.

Here are five big tech bets that Fairfax, Va.-based GDIT is making.

Forecast Is Mostly Cloudy

With even government clients beginning to rapidly adopt cloud computing as a way to save time and resources, Khanna said cloud’s ease of use will only see that segment grow unilaterally across the technology market in the coming months.

“I see the acceleration of cloud adoption to pick up. The confidence level of our customers in leveraging cloud capabilities continues to grow. That, coupled with the fact that they’re all grappling with budget constraints -- and cloud is a perfect antidote for that. It certainly gives a lot of enterprise agility. Now. With all the security controls that all the service providers, including GDIT, we are obviously cloud service providers, all those things have matured the cloud space to a point where I think you will see a faster rate of adoption. So that’s something that we’re doubling down on, for sure.”

Automation and Machine Learning Down The Stack

Over the next 12 to 24 months Khanna said he expects to see automation and machine learning start to change the way work is done in IT.

“If you look at it from the top down, business processes as a service, these are things like contact centers, call centers, thinks like that. I think you’re going to see interruption of cognitive capabilities, or virtual agents that will make it feasible for us to take fewer agents where we can route a number of standardized queries or calls to a virtual agent, like an Amelia for example. This notion of virtual employees may just become something that the customers are very open to implementing their environments in a couple years. That’s at the highest level.”

Code, Platform, And Cyberspace Will Be Transformed By AI/ML

Khanna said its not just call centers that will see their workloads taken on by an automated partner, but software and platform development will see the workload shift as well.

“If you look at software development, I think you will see some auto-code generation tools and tools to do auto-code conversions from legacy to modern languages take hold. So there’s your AI/ML there.”

“If you look at the platform layer, there’s certainly the next gen CI CD (Continuous Integration, Continuous Development) tool chain, where I think they’ll start taking advantage of AI/ML and certainly the infrastructure layer. They’re already seeing implementations of AI to better manage, both from response, but more importantly from predictive analytics perspective, trying to identify incidents and doing automatic remediation of those incidents using AI/ML. I think AI/ML will be pervasive across the entire tech stack. We’re doubling down on that as we move forward.”

“Specifically, the use of AI/ML in the cyber space is very interesting to us. Right now, a large part of how the industry reacts to cyber incidents and remediates as a result of an incident, is done by a multitude of tools. And oh my god, that’s the right place for artificial intelligence to speed that thing up, so incidents are detected faster. If policy dictates or allows, you can do automatic remediations. If not automatic, certainly augmented remediation, where there’s always a human in the middle, but you’re aided by tools that are powered by AI to do that remediation at a much faster rate. So we’ll see that happen.”

AI/ML Will Mean Job Losses In IT

All of this automation means a virtual steam drill is headed for the John Henrys of the IT world, in the form of AI/ML. Does this mean keypunchers will join their hammer-swinging forebears on the unemployment line?

“It is designed to reduce fingers on the keyboard. And do things in an automatic manner. It will take some of the functions that humans do today out of the equation. That doesn’t mean there will be a reduction in jobs. What that means is that people who do quote unquote IT will be able to focus higher up the stack, and work in areas that create higher value than maybe answering a phone, because a machine can do that for you. It won’t be elimination as much as shifting of the kind of work that the current IT folks do away from the commodity stuff at the lower ends of the stack, and upstream to actually create higher value.”

A 5G-Powered, IoT Future

Khanna said the ceiling of what is possible through technology gets a lot higher with the introduction of 5G. Combining that technology with IoT, creates an environment of innovation that will drive business ahead.

“I’m quite bullish on IoT in general. I think the sensors continue to be cheaper and cheaper and better and better, and how you actually build an ecosystem of IoT technologies to bring better awareness of, whether it’s your fleet, whether it’s your inventory of anything, quite frankly, I think that’s going to have some very positive impact over the next couple of years.”

“Then if you look beyond the next couple of years. I’m keeping a really close eye on technologies like 5G, and quantum computing. Both of those are going to have non-trivial impact on our market place. 5G is going to bring bandwidth that is just incredible improvement to what we’re all accustom to today. You tie that with IoT and the odds of what is possible just went through the roof in terms of us positioned to better serve the mission of our customers. Those are some areas that I think are worth paying attention to in the coming years.”