Thursday, August 11 2022

As most would in this circumstance, Jennifer Chronis had one main reservation about accepting Verizon’s offer last summer to take on a new role as head of federal affairs for the telecom giant:

How do you start a new job with a new employer, especially when it’s much more difficult to meet and get to know all of the new team members during a pandemic?

I asked Chronis this question and she phrased it this way: Verizon’s destination and purpose was a big help to her in deciding to join us. Since April, she has now been in charge of all public sector affairs, including federal ones.

“The network is essential to everything our customers do now,” Chronis told me. “It’s essential for the cloud, it’s essential for innovation, it’s essential for remote working and 5G is a huge enabler. “

Chronis began federal-focused work on August 3, 2020 after four years in what she called a “fascinating experience” as the business leader of Amazon Web Services’ Department of Defense which took her provided insight into how customers use and think about connectivity.

Verizon maintains its 20th place in Washington’s tech Top 100 in 2021 with $ 2.1 billion in core contracts, two brands roughly unchanged from last year’s list.

In his current role, Chronis is responsible for continuing to ensure that public sector activities are aligned with the broader “Verizon 2.0” vision and transformation that CEO Hans Vestberg has articulated for nearly three years.

Verizon 2.0 is designed to organize the business around a customer-centric rather than a product-centric model. The public sector is specifically part of the Verizon Business group which focuses on all business customers, whether government or commercial.

“We’re really, really focused on continuing to grow for (the) Verizon Business Group to continue to deliver on Hans’ vision of ensuring our customers embrace 5G, embrace network as a service, expanding our partner channels and our go-to-market and leveraging new B2B (business-to-business) applications such as mobile edge computing, ”said Chronis.

A second view of the Verizon leader that Chronis highlighted in our conversation as one of the public sector stores that contributes is that of Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business Group.

Erwin’s vision is similar to the one Chronis described it: “To drive growth for our customers and become their indispensable partner, and deepen their digital transformation journeys”.

In May, Verizon was awarded a potential $ 495 million contract to help DOD operate a high-speed, high-performance computer network used by the department’s science and research community to collaborate and share their work.

This fourth iteration of the Defense Research Engineering Network contract will last up to 10 years, starting with a base period of four years followed by a trio of two-year options.

The DREN is managed by the department’s high performance computing modernization program office with this mission as described by Chronis:

“Work on some of the most difficult issues, not only for DOD but across the federal government, such as climate change, pandemic response and next generation self-defense systems. “

For DREN 4, Chronis said Verizon will work with DOD to better secure the network and move it from a hardware-centric build to a software-defined one. This change is meant to be in line with how the wider tech world is moving in a more software-defined direction.

Additional capacity and reach are also essential for this new version of DREN. Chronis said that Verizon and the DOD aim to “provide higher bandwidth and lower latency connectivity between and among” the 200 different HPC sites and labs focused on research, development, testing and research efforts. engineering.

Then, of course, there’s the massive vehicle of enterprise infrastructure solutions allowing all federal agencies to acquire next-generation telecommunications products and services from Verizon and the other nine major carriers.

Data from Deltek indicates that Verizon received the largest amount of unclassified blue chip bonds to date through EIS for approximately $ 182.6 million.

Four of the biggest wins Verizon has recorded against this vehicle have come from the Health and Human Services and Labor departments, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Social Security Administration.

Chronis said EIS also gives agencies additional leverage to acquire cloud services, although he concedes that it is in the “very early stages” of clients trying to do so.

The ongoing 5G revolution and transition is a third pillar of the public sector and of Verizon’s broader corporate strategy.

One project highlighted by Chronis included a project at the Marine Corps’ Miramar Air Station in Greater San Diego, which was the first U.S. military facility to implement Verizon’s 5G ultra-broadband network. Miramar will also house a 5G Living Lab to see how the Marine Corps can take advantage of this new network architecture.

Verizon is taking a similar approach with the Department of Energy at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where the parties are working on new ideas and solutions to apply 5G in research efforts. Chronis said other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security could benefit from this collaboration.

The 5G realm is also an area where Chronis sees Verizon’s public sector and broader corporate strategy as one and the same in some ways, especially considering what Verizon 2.0 is meant to be.

“We’re doing our best to try and pollinate among ourselves… the teams we have that build our 5G test labs and innovation centers are the same teams we use in the public sector, corporate, small markets. and medium-sized businesses and enterprises, ”Chronis said.

“We’re sharing resources, we’re building on the same lessons learned, and I think we’re really helping to push the boundaries a bit and show our clients what we see in advertising that can potentially be leveraged in the public sector. “

(A future episode of Project 38 will feature my full conversation with Chronis which includes more about the federal government’s progress in adopting 5G, how Verizon is shaping its post-pandemic working future, and additional information on how the industry public feeds the broader business strategy)

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