50 Best Companies to Watch 2021
In 1995 few people knew the word “netcentricity” or understood how it would shape the future. One company did, and took that as their name. The word was later defined in a 2017 book, Establishing Governance for Hybrid Cloud and the Internet of Things: “A continuously-evolving, complex community of people, devices, information and services interconnected by a communications network to achieve optimal benefit of resources and better synchronization of events and their consequences.” That sums up NetCentrics’s outlook back in 1995 – and remains their forward-looking position today.
NetCentrics leverages an innovative, agile, ‘what’s-next’ approach to their customers’ IT and cybersecurity challenges. Their digital transformation services use data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies, to deliver solutions critical to mission success. We interviewed NetCentrics’ President Lawrence O’Connor to learn more about the company’s services and vision for the future. Here are a few excerpts of the interview:
CIO Bulletin: When and why was NetCentrics established?
Lawrence O’Connor, CEO of NetCentrics: NetCentrics began as a cybersecurity government contractor in 1995. Our company was among the first to offer netcentric solutions, hence our name. In the years since, we’ve continued to stay ahead of technology and cyber threats. Recently, we’ve expanded into new domains, like healthcare,that benefit from aggressive cyber protection. I came on as President in 2020 and CEO in 2021.
CB: What is the growth opportunity for your company?
Lawrence O’Connor: Cybersecurity remains an area of extreme growth for NetCentrics. This reflects current trends and future needs. The world’s digital infrastructure continues to expand exponentially. For example, smart sensors are driving the Internet of Things. These new connections significantly broaden the potential threat surface from a cybersecurity perspective. Cybersecurity isn’t limited to digital infrastructure. It affects physical infrastructure and individual safety, too.
CB: What new services are available to your customers?
Lawrence O’Connor: We are expanding our cybersecurity services into the operation tech, also known as OT. OT is the physical infrastructure found, for example, in utilities like gas or electric companies or water treatment plants. Previously, these physical systems were offline. If these systems talked to one another, they were contained in an internal network. That’s no longer the case. OT presents one area of strong business growth for us.
Smart sensors are being added to millions of devices to provide cost savings and other efficiency benefits. The downside is that systems with smart sensors are vulnerable. Some of the security protecting these systems is woefully outdated or non-existent. We project a lot of demand in this area in the coming years. Recent headlines in the news show how rapidly the need for cybersecurity in operation tech is growing.
Another area of growth is cyber supply chain management. One example in this supply chain is software. Many people don’t realize how much open source software is incorporated into proprietary software and the risk it presents. A second example is the “tech stack” at each node in a supply chain.
Is this tech stack sufficiently protected? Maybe, maybe not. Cyber supply chain management is a growing necessity. NetCentrics evaluates and monitors all the inputs of a cyber supply chain. Customers can manage this complex, interconnected cyber supply chain from a “single pane of glass.”
CB: Do you have any plans to expand NetCentrics?
Lawrence O’Connor: We’re hiring like crazy because the demand for our services has gone through the roof. Every business, government agency, and military facility needs IT modernization. It’s a requirement to compete and a requirement for self-preservation.
CB: Tell us about NetCentrics’ expertise in cybersecurity, IT strategy, and telecommunications.
Lawrence O’Connor: Those are our top three service areas. We’ve provided these services since day one. A lot has changed over the years, so we constantly challenge ourselves to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate ways each of these disciplines will evolve and change. That keeps us nimble.
Right now, cybersecurity is our biggest and most well-known service sector. As mentioned, cybersecurity touches every industry, and the demand is escalating. We are actively using and experimenting with artificial intelligence and machine learning. We’re also watching how quantum computing evolves. That’s still a decade away, but how it evolves could have profound implications on system security – and we’re building these systems today.
We excel in demanding environments. The majority of our staff is highly trained and possess critical security clearances. We also use the latest technology to ensure that our solutions are adaptable. In fact, that’s the origin behind our company slogan, “Your Next is Our Now.”
CB: Tell us more about your first computer network deployed in the Pentagon.
Lawrence O’Connor: Work at the Pentagon was one of NetCentrics’ earliest engagements. Our employees were there on the 9/11 attack. Fortunately, all survived. Our employees stationed there and at our headquarters stopped everything to help get digital infrastructure systems back up as quickly as possible. Three civilian employees were awarded by the Army for their contributions.
This was before my time with the company. But I think the willingness to do whatever necessary, especially in a time of need, demonstrates a core part of the company culture that remains. I think we have a lot to be proud of when it comes to our company culture. Our employees recently rated us in the top 5% of Washington, DC businesses on a range of metrics. As a result, we received a “Best Place to Work in Washington, DC” award. We expect great things ahead.
About the CEO
Lawrence O’Connor is the CEO of NetCentrics. With more than 25 years of experience in the government services market, Lawrence has established a strong track record of effective leadership for companies in the midst of significant change and expansion. At NetCentrics, he is focused on cybersecurity technologies that improve security and enhance business outcomes. He is a graduate of George Washington University and the United States Naval Academy.