Microsoft: Thinking Big Picture to Drive Growth

The software giant’s biggest government client is DOD, making up 79% of its $506 million in federal contracts for FY18.

Microsoft Federal’s CTO, Susie Adams, on how the company is helping the government serve veterans, address food scarcity, and tackle IT modernization.

With a 42% increase in prime contract obligations, Microsoft rose from the 147th largest government contractor on last year’s BGOV200 to 118th on this year’s BGOV200. What advice would you have for your peers looking to grow in this space?

Traditionally, vendors look to work primarily with IT shops. If you’re looking to grow in the space, look to the mission owners to find innovative solutions that help meet their challenges. A key driver to growth is making that shift and ensuring you’re establishing the necessary inroads to help bring commercial innovation to the public sector.

Microsoft has been integrating its private sector technologies with government agency needs in some recent initiatives to serve veterans – how else might this kind of collaboration manifest in government services?

We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of our veterans and, as a company, we are committed to leveraging our commercial innovations to support the veteran community in unique ways.

Take, for example, our partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs where Microsoft is providing Xbox Adaptive Controllers – a video game controller designed for people with limited mobility – to 22 VA medical centers to help with veterans’ therapeutic and rehabilitative activities, as well as our work with the VA to help provide broadband services to veterans in rural areas.

Our support to veterans extends beyond our solutions to developing a talented workforce. For six years, we have trained thousands of veterans to transition from the military to the tech industry as part of our 18-week skills-building program, Microsoft Software & Systems Academy.

None of this would be possible without Microsoft’s longstanding government relationships through our products, which offer Microsoft the ability to co-innovate and service the government and its citizens.

How do you inspire innovation on your team to keep Microsoft on top of emerging technologies that the federal government will want to buy?

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. The desire to empower organizations, such as governments, to solve big societal issues with less is what fuels our innovation to bring commercial innovation to government customers as quickly as possible, regardless of their security requirements.

Take, for example, food production. By the year 2050, food demand is projected to double, and food production will have to increase dramatically to keep up with that growth. To solve future challenges of food scarcity, Microsoft is working with the Department of Agriculture on FarmBeats, an end-to-end research initiative that explores how technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and edge computing can make our food production more resilient.

By showcasing the art of the possible in one sector, we inspire other agencies to adopt technologies that will help them address the challenges of today and the future.

See the full BGOV200

How are agencies doing with migrating to the cloud? What could they do better? Have any lessons or challenges along the way changed the way Microsoft approaches cloud opportunities and technologies?

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the cost of maintaining legacy infrastructure can be more than 75% of an agency’s IT budget. With only a fraction left for modernization and innovation, IT leaders are left with a challenging remit. Challenges agencies face when migrating to the cloud are network connectivity, compliance with existing government regulations, cybersecurity, and the overall complexity of the virtual/digital estate that spans data centers and multiple clouds.

Today’s security landscape is changing, and moving an agency into the next generation of IT requires having a growth mindset and seeing through the fog – think big picture.


You’re a leader in a male-dominated field (IT) and male-dominated industry (government contracting). How can IT and government contracting become more inclusive? What’s different about the culture now versus when you started your career?

For the first 10 years of my career, it was common for me to be the only woman in the room or on a team. In the last 10 years, the IT and government contracting fields have made great strides in being more inclusive, which stems from a more global understanding that diversity is good for innovation. While there is still work to be done, continuing to promote women and minorities to senior leadership positions, investing in STEM programs, and continuing to evolve the workplace culture to be more inclusive are key to progress.

Other companies on the BGOV200 interested in sharing their story can contact us here.