The secret to our success in the defense industry

Viasat takes a collaborative approach to address real problems

Viasat's advanced communications technologies solve real problems for our DoD customers.

With limited DoD budgets and a troubled DoD acquisition system, many may wonder how Viasat continues to grow and succeed in helping our defense customers improve their situational awareness, enhance safety and extend their mission effectiveness in a manner that is so much more effective than others in the defense market segment. A big part of the answer is relatively simple: We have stepped up our collaboration with defense customers at every opportunity, establishing and sustaining real-time engagement so that we can exploit our innovative culture and cutting-edge technologies in ways that solve real customer problems across the DoD.

Viasat’s collaboration with our defense customers has become a significant growth engine for us in an uneven defense market. While others seem focused on simply responding to DoD Requests for Proposals (RFPs) the way it always has been done, our team proactively engages with customers to discover what new capabilities they really need by actively listening to their concerns — and by asking lots of questions.

We have stepped up our collaboration with defense customers at every opportunity, establishing and sustaining real-time engagement so that we can exploit our innovative culture and cutting-edge technologies in ways that solve real customer problems across the DoD.

Closely collaborating with our defense customers helps our Viasat team understand what their desired mission outcomes are. Then, together, we can develop technology-based solutions that really work and deploy commercial technology more effectively. Some good examples of external customer collaboration are our recent contract awards for in-flight connectivity for U.S. Government VIP Senior Leader aircraft and our secure cloud networking solutions. These customers were operating with an aging solution for more than a decade, and they’d become accustomed to its many in-flight service limitations. It seemed they couldn’t imagine that there were far better in-flight service capabilities available to them.

By collaborating with the customer on a daily basis, understanding the nuances of their mission, becoming intimately familiar with their current capability shortfalls, and experiencing first-hand the problems they were frequently encountering, our team collaborated internally to develop an in-flight service plan that included unprecedented in-flight broadband with an evolving active cyber defense that went well beyond customer expectations.  The result was a sole source, non-competitive contract award for over $73 million.

Our cyber group also demonstrated its understanding of the value of customer collaboration when approached with the difficult customer problem of how to secure high-speed networking in the cloud. The cyber team worked collaboratively both within Viasat and with the customer to develop a breakthrough technical solution that exceeded the customer’s needs. They have been extremely pleased with Viasat’s solution, and that first opportunity is now opening up entirely new commercial and international market opportunities arising from the same kinds of high-speed security problems.

Creating solutions to our customers’ real problems in a collaborative manner has also allowed us to operate outside the DoD’s existing Programs of Record, enabling us to monetize our solutions using innovative commercial business models. By monetizing the features the customer values most, and focusing on the dimensions of value that our competitors cannot offer, we continue to create an enduring competitive advantage.

Viasat is in a truly unique position in the defense market. As an innovative and agile technology leader, we can develop solutions much faster and more effectively than our competitors. Further, we can create solutions our customers genuinely need, rather than simply responding to what they might be asking for in their RFPs.  This proactive customer collaboration empowers us to apply our technologies more effectively; more precisely articulate our value proposition; more effectively establish competitive barriers to entry; and more powerfully monetize each opportunity by establishing price flexibility based on customer value, not our cost.

Our warfighters desperately need truly innovative solutions to maintain their technological edge.  At Viasat, our people continue to deliver just that with our next generation Link-16 devices, our high-speed network encryptors, our Best-Available-Network satellite solutions, and our emerging services from the ViaSat-2 and Viasat-3 satellites.

Shannon O'Meara Smith
About Shannon O'Meara Smith 10 Articles
Shannon O’Meara Smith has in-depth Defense sector knowledge having served on active and reserve duty with both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. Today she is the executive director of Strategic Initiatives within Viasat’s Government Systems business where she helps develop long-term strategies around existing markets and the competitive landscape.