The Raymond James Defense and Government Conference held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on Thursday brought together some of the most influential executives, government officials and thought leaders in the government and government contracting industry.

During a panel discussion moderated by Raymond James Managing Director Andy McEnroe, four Wash100 Award winners and GovCon CEOs shared their perspectives on the defense and government market and gave their predictions for what the GovCon market should expect in the next year.

“We’ve seen how unmanned systems can make a huge difference on the battlefield. I think we’ll continue to see huge investment there,” said Amentum CEO John Heller.

According to Heller, we have already seen success with the idea of “soldier-less warfare” in Ukraine’s use of small unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, through its ongoing conflict with Russia, as well as with larger unmanned systems in the U.S.

“It’s evolving faster than we thought. I think the U.S. could take a lead,” Heller added.

CACI President and CEO John Mengucci doubled down on the importance of software. “In our marketplace, software’s going to play a much larger role in where the nation goes in the government space,” Mengucci shared.

“Software has got to be everybody’s superpower. I like to say it’s ours because we’ve been focused on it for a long, long time,” he added.

For Parsons Chair, President and CEO Carey Smith, current geopolitical conflicts and evolving situations are top of mind, and these factors will need to be carefully considered as GovCon businesses look ahead.

“It’s going to continue to be a dangerous world,” said Smith. “One of the things we really need to be thoughtful about is geopolitical politics [and] foreign policies are becoming increasingly important.”

The future of the GovCon market will not just rely on one technology, but the combination of multiple capabilities, said ManTech President and CEO Matt Tait.

Tait pointed to the importance of using “directed energy, AI, high performance computing, cognitive cyber, intelligent systems engineering” in concert with each other, and in tandem with the workforce, as critical to GovCon’s future.

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