Q&A with Mare Lucas of GCE: The Culture Change of Disruptive Technologies

Written by on September 27, 2012 in Execs to Know - Comments Off

Mare Lucas, GCE Federal

Cloud and mobile technologies are changing the way Americans work. GCE’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mare Lucas, is at the forefront of that change. She spends her days meeting with customers and partners to get out the company’s technology forward message. She says that in an era of budget cutbacks, moving to the cloud can help an enterprise do more with less.

WashingtonExec:  Could you tell us a little bit about your background and your role at GCE?

Mare Lucas: My title is the Chief Marketing Officer, but I actually get to do what I think is the [coolest] sort of work here at GCE. I’m involved in everything from meeting with customers, partners, and prospects, spending time on the Hill, presentations, and all kinds of different things to get out our technology forward message.

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“Now we are working with a lot of disruptive technologies that the Cloud has enabled, so we spend a lot of our time on the Big Data and the Big Data analytics world.”

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WashingtonExec:  How does your experience in marketing and driving revenue opportunities impact your role?

Mare Lucas: If you look about five or six years back, the Cloud model was just emerging on the marketplace and we really thought that was going to be a big change in the IT world.  Now we are working with a lot of disruptive technologies that the Cloud has enabled, so we spend a lot of our time on the Big Data and the Big Data analytics world.  This promises to have that same sort of disruption to the marketplace.  There is a lot of opportunity for Big Data to allow people much better access to their information.

WashingtonExec:  What are some of the benefits and challenges of a workforce who can go anywhere?

Mare Lucas: Mobility is a necessity in our personal lives, and the gap between the necessity and our professional lives is closing.  We offer mobile services for our financial management services so that people can do a lot of the simple, everyday things in the financial enterprise. They buy things, they approve things, they look how much something costs – fairly routine everyday tasks.  They may not be at their desks when they need to ask that question.  Mobility opens up the enterprise so that you don’t have to be at your desk to do a lot of your routine work, and I think it is just a larger reflection on where the IT industry is going.  People don’t want there to be such a distinction between what they can do at home, or what they can do from the office.

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“Mobility is a necessity in our personal lives, and the gap between the necessity and our professional lives is closing.”

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WashingtonExec:  What is the largest challenge you have faced when implementing a government program?

Mare Lucas: There are challenges with just adopting a new way of doing things.  It is really different to say to an organization, ‘I’m going to sell you a service. I’m going to give it to you at a dramatically reduced cost. I’m going to manage all of the hardware and all of the software and all of the headaches for you.’  That’s very different than walking in and saying, ‘I’ll build you everything you wanted from scratch.’  Most people know that the second option is probably going to result in a lot of money, a lot of risk and probably a long time frame.  It is really just a a culture change.

WashingtonExec:  Do you think this could help in an era of budget cutbacks?

Mare Lucas: Yes, the Cloud could not have been more timely.  There is just less money to do things.  Our most recent client was quoted as saying that they achieved a 40 percent cost savings in coming to our Cloud.  It is such a dramatic savings to move to a standardized Cloud model. It’s a very easy way to do more with less by looking at places in the organization where you can leverage Cloud computing.

WashingtonExec:  Do you think there is an issue at all with having enough skilled workers who are able to use these kinds of cloud services?

Mare Lucas: No, because the premise of the Cloud has to be that you are providing a service that people want, that you constantly innovate and build new features into your service.  Even in the early days of evangelizing the Cloud I would hold up my cell phone and say, ‘What do you expect from your cell phone provider?’ You expect to have new things rolled out into your service; you expect it to meet your service level agreements.  You don’t need to know about how they are doing it.  You just want to see the outcome of it in better service, or improved tools, or better functionality.

WashingtonExec:  What sector do you think is really embracing mobile and cloud technologies?

Mare Lucas: This is such a broad movement now that I don’t know that I can even compartmentalize it into one industry versus another.  We are looking at building tools where anybody can ask questions of even the most sophisticated data sets.  You are really seeing how people are able to use the Cloud model and allow the technologies to do things that no one thought you could do a few years ago.

If you are going to say that you deliver a service, which is what Cloud computing is, it needs to lead to better, more innovative services, and dramatic cost reductions.  Part of the future of Cloud computing is the consumerization of technology, making it match people’s expectations.  People have learned to work around the technology to get what they needed.  They haven’t really had technology that’s improved their lives.

WashingtonExec:  Do you think that information security is an issue with adopting the cloud?

Mare Lucas: There were a lot of questions about that in the beginning and now it is hardly part of the conversation anymore.  There are multiple layers of Federal regulations and guidelines that we have to follow.  It’s really part of doing your due diligence to make sure that you are with a good Cloud provider.

WashingtonExec:  Who is someone you really admire?

Mare Lucas: While I truly admire the technology leaders that we all know the names of, I don’t know them personally. I actually really admire the CEO I work for [Ray Muslimani].  I have worked with him for eight years, and he has always been able to see where technology is going.     GCE was ahead of the curve with the Cloud – and now we are doing the same in the Big Data Analytics market with new tool. I’ve really learned to think and move quickly, and that’s how you innovate.

WashingtonExec:  What made you interested in helping run GCE?

Mare Lucas: I have just always loved technology.  I’ve always felt like technology was the future.  There is so much to do with it.  I have four kids, and I look at how they interact with technology versus how I interacted with it.  10 years from now there is going to be some new totally cool thing that we didn’t even think of yet –that pace of technology is beyond exciting.  I love being at a company that had that same sort of passion for technology.

WashingtonExec: How would you describe the future of this technology?

Mare Lucas: I think there is a big, big wave that is starting – The Consumerization of Technology. It’s about how you deliver services, how you improve user experiences and it is really where you are going to see a lot of the push over the next few years.  I think things like the Cloud model combined with the processing power of Big Data is going to let you do all kinds of amazing things with data that people didn’t even think of before.

 

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