BRUSA's Weekly News Roundup: June 22nd Edition
IBM has officially created the world’s fastest supercomputer. With Sequoia, the United States has taken the top spot for the first time since 2009. – InformationWeek
Bad news for fans of BlackBerry’s physical keyboard—the first BlackBerry to run Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry 10 software will only have a touch-screen. – Washington Post
Amazon is expanding its Appstore for Android to international markets. – ReadWriteMobile
J.C. Penney President Michael Francis left the company this week and the company’s stock immediately dropped upon his exit. – CNN
Former AT&T executive Alnoor Ebrahim pleaded guilty to sharing company secrets, including sales numbers for Apple’s iPhone, to traders who illegally bought shares using the information. Ebrahim was paid more than $180,000 to serve as a consultant in the insider trading ring. –Dallas Business Journal
San Francisco-based mobile security startup Bluebox has received $9.5 million in Series A funding. Investors include Sun Microsystems co-founder Andreas Bechtolsheim, Google board member Ram Shriram and former SPI Dynamics CEO Brian Cohen. – CIO
Barnes & Noble has announced that it will be refocusing its initiatives to the digital sphere and launching a new partnership with Microsoft. – MarketWatch
iRobot’s Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner has gone wireless. The new Roomba 790 has a wireless command center that allows users to control it no matter where they are in the house. –PCMag
FedEx says that slow economic growth will lead to decreased earnings over the next year. The company plans to make significant cost cuts and vows that its level of package shipments will not drop. – Associated Press
Sharp has unveiled the largest LED television available in the United States. With a price tag of $10,999, the 90-inch AQUOS high definition television might be beyond the average consumer’s budget. Plus, it weighs 141 pounds. – Digital Trends
Southwest Airlines has fallen from the top spot of the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s list of top airlines after holding it down for 18 years. The reigning champion is now JetBlue Airways, followed by Southwest, US Airways and Delta. – ACSI
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”