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iDirect Government — Year in Review
The seamless integration into the iDirect Government products and family happened successfully this year.

Building on our 2019 acquisition of Mountain View, CA-based Glowlink Technologies, 2020 can be summed up for us as “sleight of hand.” The term is most associated with mastering moves for performance before an audience where the movements of the hands are precise and well-studied to bring about success in coin tricks and card tricks.

Although sleight of hand brings “magic” and tricking of the audience, there is no trick to iDirectGov’s 2020 product innovations for our customers. Similar to the learned characteristics of sleight of hand, the studying, engineering, preciseness and mastering of incorporating Glowlink technology with iDirectGov technology is our 2020 success story.

This story began with integrating Glowlink’s technology and assimilating the Glowlink team into a new culture while maintaining their existing values.

The seamless integration into the iDirect Government products and family happened successfully this year.

This acquisition endowed us with a team of engineers on the west coast. Together with our existing east coast engineering team, we delivered a significant software release to our customers with enhanced security features —– our Evolution™ This was no small feat on several fronts.

First, our engineers on both coasts needed to understand and learn the combined technology capabilities to build products to suit our customers’ needs for secure SATCOM.

Second, this path of learning came in the middle of a pandemic with travel bans and closures that required virtual collaboration. The iDirectGov engineers came together virtually and seamlessly, and their collaborative efforts included superb engineering in mastering the integration of two high-level and technical advancements.

Despite these challenges, our team delivered software with the most advanced security features available to the government SATCOM market, including information assurance (IA) and cybersecurity as a part of a multi-layered approach to security. This was a proud moment for us and the engineering team.

Evolution integrates the Communication Signal Interference Removal (CSIR™) technology into our 9-Series modem. The CSIR technology integration and its capability to mitigate interference from a SATCOM network are game changers.

Although we have integrated CSIR into our own modems, we are continuing to explore incorporating this technology into other modems, HF radios, GPS antennas and many other potential use cases where this interference mitigation technology can benefit the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The possibilities are endless.

iDirectGov’s 9350 modem.

Evolution is a security-feature-rich release. In addition to CSIR technology, it includes SHIELD Information Assurance (IA) that provides IA protection on our 9-Series satellite modems, augmenting the existing IA packages available on our servers through our SCAP offering. SHIELD is available through individual remote licenses or as part of our Premium iSupport offering.

To have a truly global and secure SATCOM network, our defense, homeland security, first responders and other government users need the capability to control the beams on which they are operating, along with the satellites. We addressed this requirement through the new beam selection tool and dual-mode offerings.

Now, satellite operators can select automatic beam selection or manual operation based on signal strength. The dual-mode feature enhances global coverage with the capability to operate on both government and commercially owned satellites. This gives our customers options for SATCOM selection and use.

COVID-19 Impact

In light of the pandemic, we have seen a shift in our market and among our customers. Security concerns have increased with people moving to more remote environments and, with this, the abilities of hacker opportunities have increased. This scenario made our latest software release timely as it included enhanced security features.

Relative to the world market, we are fortunate. The pandemic caused a global slowdown, and in many parts, a shutdown to various parts of the economy. We had a three-month slowdown before the U.S. government was able to pick back up.

In relation to our products, there has been pent-up demand for some time and closures due to the pandemic had an impact on us. The current 9-Series product line, available in the last two years, is replacing our 8-Series modems, which were available for just more than 10 years. The government is now upgrading to the 9-Series and implementing the new features available, including increased security, speed and network flexibility.

We were concerned in the beginning of the year about supply and shipping logistics for our products, considering the tremendous amount of closures. The majority of our products are made as they are ordered here in the United States, and we don’t prefer to have a large backstock because of the ever-evolving market. When we saw the shutdown of the economy, we throttled back the supply chain.

The main problem we confronted was that our material supply chain — and that manufacture our products — went through a series of closures as virus cases popped up. However, the factories we use have done a great job at protecting their employees, which allowed us to ramp up manufacturing in June and July and have products deliver based on our need.

Our company’s success this year relates to how quickly we have responded and adapted to the new normal during the ongoing pandemic. This year has brought about a collaborative effort--our employees have banded together and worked seamlessly, even when remote, to rise to the challenge at hand with impressive results.

I worried the most about our engineering team because their work entails constant collaboration; however, the team has done an outstanding job at continuing to move the needle forward on our many ongoing projects, even remotely.

Best Places to Work 2020

For the second consecutive year, we have been named one of Washington Business Journal’s Best Places to Work 2020. In my opinion, this is an impressive win, as it is entirely employee-feedback driven and companies are ranked according to that feedback.

For iDirectGov, the achievement validates that we focus and care greatly about our customers, but we care about our employees also, and this is what allows us to obtain and retain the best employees. Our organization focuses on hiring people who are good at what they do, and then we provide them the opportunity to have a solid life-work balance.

Ahead for 2021 and Beyond

In 2021, we will increase our engineering staff, which will be a huge asset. Our focus will be on our new Revolution modems, which will be dramatically smaller and flexible in design, can be mounted in many configurations and will boast size weight and power (SWaP) enhancements. They are intended to be ideally suited for airborne, drones and embedded into antennas. Additionally, we expect it will be a paradigm shift in technology, and its release is just a few years away.

We also plan to integrate Glowlink’s other flagship products, such as the geolocation and spectrum monitoring tools, into our existing products. Our talented engineers are reviewing the product roadmap for these solutions as well as new innovative ways for their use beyond the traditional uses.

We are also looking at potentially providing a geolocation service. This would be an annuity for which our customers would pay a monthly or annual subscription fee. We would place antennas around the world to provide information and have a dedicated network operations center that could provide the location of an interference, based on subscribing customer requests.

These products are still in play, and the market can continue to expect innovative solutions from iDirectGov.

The year of 2021 will display big moves for iDirectGov as the industry leader in government satellite communications. We plan to provide fresh and innovative products that solve the security challenges being faced in the government sector and beyond.

Our ever-evolving product portfolio and enhancements will bring security, flexibility, agility, transmission security and efficiency to warfighters, first responders, disaster recovery personnel and field operators.

Author John Ratigan serves as President of iDirect Government, Herndon, Virginia.