A Conversation with Sigma Defense and SOLUTE CEOs, Matt Jones and John Lyons
On January 19th, 2022 Sigma Defense announced the acquisition of SOLUTE bringing together one organization with a 16-year history of providing hardware integration and tactical communications for C5ISR, SATCOM and JADC2 and another company with long pedigree of providing software engineering, cyber security, cloud architectures, and Development Security Operations (DevSecOps). We sat down with Matt Jones, CEO of Sigma Defense and John Lyons, CEO of SOLUTE (now EVP of SOLUTE Operations for the combined company) to learn what this means for their customers.
What do you see as the strengths of your respective organizations and what were the gaps?
Matt Jones (MJ): Sigma Defense has a long history of delivering operational expertise, systems integration and lifecycle management of commercial off-the-shelf hardware for tactical communications systems. The vast majority of our team of experts comes from the military with an expertise in tactical communications, so they understand our customer’s unique requirements. We take great pride in our ability to anticipate the needs of our customers – it’s what drives innovation. For Sigma Defense to continue to innovate, we found we needed to expand our software capabilities to go broader and deeper.
John Lyons (JL): At SOLUTE, we have focused on innovation through a software led approach. We have always viewed ourselves and the company as change agents, helping our customers in the Navy, Army and Air Force take their programs to the next level faster. We’ve helped streamline the Maritime Tactical Command & Control (MTC2) program by consolidating software development into a single resource pool, provided mission application teams for DEVSECOPS for The Forge and enabled the advancement of transformational software development through Black Pearl.
How will the combined company deliver a better product to your DoD customers?
MJ: The alignment of both companies unique skillsets – Sigma Defense has deep roots in hardware integration and SOLUTE had phenomenal expertise in software development – will provide our customers with far greater capabilities than we have been able to provide independently. As we develop new solutions for JADC2 and C5ISR our focus will be delivering greater capabilities at the edge, leveraging AI/ML for faster decision making and finding better ways to get the right information to the right people at the right time. In addition, through Black Pearl, which is a common DevSecOps environment that provides tools and expertise for software development from conception to deployment, we are providing resources for modernization to our DoD customers as well. Not only will we innovate our solutions at a faster pace, we’ll enable our customers to do the same.
How does a software led approach change how tactical communications are delivered?
JL: Software is transforming every facet of our life and it’s happening at a exponentially faster pace. Capabilities that were once mechanical and physical in nature are now software led. Remember pictures of the telephone operator plugging physical plugs in the switchboard? That was modernized by software long ago. Tesla has reimagined the automobile, completely transforming how it operates through software. If you take this approach and apply it to tactical communications and combat systems for the DoD, there is a tremendous opportunity to transform not only the capabilities that can be deployed but the pace at which they can be deployed. Modern communications systems that are software driven allow for the rapid deployment of new capabilities like analytics at the edge for faster assessments and decision making. We have the ability to architect systems, compile new code, test and deploy new capabilities faster. That is a big differentiator for us and for our customers.
Why are you focusing on large systems modernization and what do you envision delivering to your customers?
MJ: I like to say that the new company that has emerged from the integration of Sigma Defense and SOLUTE isn’t a defense company, but a technology company that serves the DoD.
Our mission is to deliver cross-domain decision making dominance with better access to information and intelligence. We listen to our customers and we hear their demand for automation for better ISR capabilities. We understand their challenges for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the need for greater situational awareness to aid decision making. We are investing in modernizing large systems because that is what our customers demand and quite honestly, that is what we do best.
JL: The biggest opportunity to quickly make a significant impact to the strategic issues Matt just mentioned is through software development. We have the resources and agility to innovate faster than ever. We’re building, testing and integrating modern infrastructure at a faster pace and we’ll continue to accelerate that pace so our customers can reap the benefits of a modern communications platform. We can develop and implement new applications, create user interfaces that are even more intuitive to reduce training cycles. This is exactly why the alignment of SOLUTE and Sigma Defense makes so much sense. We are very well positioned to deliver exactly what our customers are asking for.
What can customers expect in the next 6 months, 12 months and beyond?
MJ: As we said earlier, we are a technology company. The goal of a technology company should be to attract and retain world class talent, so we can provide innovative solutions for our customers. For our collective teams, that focus has primarily been on hardware and software engineers. We want to invest in and apply the knowledge and expertise we have developed in-house and use that to provide capabilities to sustain our competitive advantage. From my perspective, our customers can expect the same from us in 6, 12, 18 months as they can today. That is the knowledge and insight to understand their business and their requirements and the ability to provide them the tools to meet those needs. It may be at broader scale in the future, but that’s who we are now and will be as a company.
JL: Matt is 100% accurate when he says we will be laser focused on innovation to deliver the solutions our customers need. I see that as providing greater capabilities at the edge for data and decision dominance. That can be analytics and AI at the edge for faster ingestion and processing of raw data to convert it to insights and intelligence. It can be better sharing of cross-domain intelligence so there is not just a faster and deeper understanding of data, but having those insights more readily available to more key decision makers.
Independently, Sigma Defense and SOLUTE have developed solutions that have been key enablers for the military to connect people, systems and data with speed and precision for successful mission outcomes. Collectively, we will provide more sophisticated capabilities at a faster pace. I am extremely excited about our outlook and for the success we will have together.