Terrence Blair is the Chief Technology Officer for the federal information technology (IT) programs in Tetra Tech’s Arlington, Virginia, office. Terrence has 30 years of experience working in the IT field in various technical, management, and strategic roles and has been with Tetra Tech for more than 10 years. He has more than 15 years of experience focused on strategic technology consulting and has worked for a variety of commercial, nonprofit, and federal clients. Terrence has worked in the criminal justice, environmental, legal, intelligence, and aerospace domains and has expertise in the full spectrum of information technologies, including data center engineering, network management, software development, and very-large-scale system architecture and management.
Terrence started as a software developer and network administrator at a nonprofit organization as a junior in college. Since then, he has had the opportunity to play most IT roles—everything from running cable to writing software to managing networks and internal IT operations. Approximately 20 years ago during the eBusiness boom, he joined a technology consulting firm in Washington, DC, that provided him executive-level access to large enterprise clients. This gave him the opportunity to work with clients on business problems, not just technology problems. While some of the solutions required large-scale technology investments, some could be addressed in other ways, and he was able to leverage that experience when he joined Tetra Tech. At Tetra Tech, Terrence primarily focuses on technology strategy and solutions for large IT challenges and aligning the company’s internal investment with the federal market. He holds bachelor’s and Juris Doctorate degrees from The American University.
How do you contribute to the delivery of Tetra Tech’s federal IT services?
First and foremost, I am a consultant. My team and I consult externally with our existing and potential clients and within Tetra Tech to identify technology solutions. The objective of the IT group is to identify a multitude of technology solutions to any business problem, to share them with our partners, and to work through the best solution, given funding, legacy technology and skills, and mission constraints. In order to do that effectively, I am responsible for knowing just enough about everything technical to identify our resources that will address our clients’ IT needs.
How is Tetra Tech using current and emerging technologies to support clients?
The best part of being a Chief Technology Officer is the opportunity to work in a field that is very dynamic and subject to extreme innovation. We have been able to successfully apply robotic process automation, cloud-based modernization and migration, low-code application development, artificial intelligence (AI), and our “automate everything” mindset across the federal government to achieve real, measurable benefits. Many of these innovations were not even being considered by our clients three years ago.
Most innovations are initially deployed as singular solutions to narrow business problems. We are trying to help our clients be strategic with these technologies as part of their larger modernization efforts. Even as we implement these new technologies for them, we also want to help our clients chip away at enterprise issues that hinder their return on these investments. Like most large companies, federal agencies still spend most of their technology funding on sustainment of legacy systems, struggle to extract value from their data, and face a persistent cyber threat environment. We want to work on these bigger issues as well.
What are some emerging technologies and approaches that Tetra Tech will use to help our federal and commercial clients operate in cyberspace?
AI is the fastest emerging technology focus for the United States Department of Defense (DoD). Its' 2020 and 2021 budget proposals both included more than $800 million in AI and machine learning investments, alone. In addition, there is a continued focus on cybersecurity, with another $9 billion allocated in 2021. These two areas require massive amounts of data storage and elastic computing—so the ability to quickly expand or decrease computer processing, memory, and storage resources to meet changing demands without worrying about capacity planning and engineering for peak usage. These capabilities are only available in the cloud and will continue to be critical areas of investment for Tetra Tech in order to scale our support for the DoD.
In addition, we are especially interested in applying low-code development for our DoD and civilian customers. Low-code is a visual approach to application development that enables developers of varied experience levels to create applications for web and mobile use using simple technologies, such as drag and drop components and other graphic interfaces that are less technical in nature. We have found low-code development to be a very rapid way to modernize legacy systems and migrating customer operations to cloud-based hosting in a manageable and transparent way. This approach minimizes traditional hurdles like the need for repeated certification and accreditation.