‘Not Your Grandpa’s Conference’ – NCMA Brings VR, Video Games, Immersive Experiences in 2021 Contracting Conference


This content is sponsored by the NCMA.

Lots of tips have been released, especially in the past few months, directing federal IT and cybersecurity staff how to start addressing top concerns like supply chain cyber attacks, ransomware, phishing, and more. Likewise, federal agencies involved in disaster response have plans in place – and in some cases, in action – to deal with extreme weather events resulting from climate change, COVID-19 and other natural disasters. But these major challenges also affect the federal contracting community, and it is less clear what they can do to respond and mitigate their effects.

This is why the National Contract Management Association will address “The Urgent Future” at its next Symposium on Government Contract Management, December 2-3 in Washington.

“It’s pretty clear that cyber has had a very, very big effect on outsourcing professionals, both in government and in industry,” said Anne Laurent, Director of Professional Practice and innovation at NCMA. “For example, the cybersecurity maturity model certification has received a lot of attention as it requires both parties to begin to understand how not to toughen up, but change the way our IT business in government is secure. And there are a lot of new requirements coming in for the industry to meet these things. These are all requirements that the contracting party of the house must not only understand, but must ensure that they are met. The bottom line is that the contracting side of the house needs to be prepared to understand CMMC and make sure that when contractors bid they are bidding on things that are mature enough to actually get done.

Just as developers, cybersecurity specialists and disaster response personnel must increase the speed at which they can respond to demand and emergencies, contract specialists must also be able to increase their capacity. to respond quickly to the demand for new capacities. Governments clash primarily in the cyber and business worlds, and at the intersection of these, everyone learns that the supply chain is easily militarized.

Concerns that the procurement system is too slow and not agile enough have been around for decades, but they are quickly peaking. This is why the NCMA is borrowing a military motto – “train like you fight” – for its 2021 conference. It will focus on how the contracting community can gear up to be experienced while traveling with it. agility and responding with both eagerness and intelligence.

It is also adopting a new approach to the format of the conference itself, in a nod to the pandemic and the new dynamic of remote participation in such conferences.

“We always believe that being there in person is vital. And we would really advise people to do it that way, ”Laurent said. “But because some people can’t, we took a new hybrid approach, giving attendees the option to attend in person or online. And we do our best to make sure both experiences are equally fabulous. “

Part of this hybrid experience is the digital platform, which takes the form of a virtual showroom. The avatars will move around the virtual space, with screens showing the video. People will be able to choose which sessions they want to attend and run them on these screens.

“This year we’re actually going to have a space where these innovation aisle presentation presenters are going to be co-located in what’s called an innovation wing,” Laurent said. “We’re going to have what I think is probably the very first first-person shooter contract video game on display in the wing, and we’re also going to have the IRS project where they acquire an augmented reality solution to fulfill. tax forms and other IRS forms where you can do it on your cell phone, and while you are filling out something, the idea is that augmented reality will immediately provide you with basic information alongside that.

There will also be an immersive experience, both for in-person and digital attendees, called 2025: The Future is Here. People will be divided into teams, with roles and a scenario to which they will have to respond. This scenario will be a projection into the near future, which Laurent compared to Peter Singer’s novels, and additional challenges will arise during the experience for participants to incorporate into their responses.

“We’ve brought so much information, so many new experiences, so many top notch speakers into our conferences, that it’s really, really impressive, but this one is a bit of a stretch,” Laurent said. “This is not your grandfather’s lecture.


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