Know the Big Picture in Federal Technology Drivers7:44 AM EST Wed. May. 23, 2012
In this blog, the third of four installments, Liesegang, vice president of the Government Channels Division at immixGroup, looks at why companies must look at the role technology plays among government agencies in meeting mission-critical federal needs—despite an uncertain budgetary environment.—Jennifer Bosavage
Advances in technology – coupled with policy and budget drivers for more austere federal operations – underpin the most critical missions in government agencies and departments. Technology provides a logical bridge for maintaining mission objectives even when budgets are reduced and consolidated overall. Because of the current federal focus on shared services, sustainability, efficiency, and innovation, a number of technologies are emerging as important topics of conversation. These include:
• cyber and physical security
• cloud, mobile, and social media
• data center optimization, virtualization and consolidation
Why are some of these technology trends emerging? First, consider the interconnectedness of agency missions and the technology to address those missions. Interestingly, when agencies redirect existing budgets to maintain current levels of mission fulfillment, they run the risk of inadvertently creating some vulnerabilities, such as possible increased cyber and physical security threats. Additionally, requirements from the Federal CIO to use some new technologies can render other technologies redundant. Cloud computing implementation, to name one, means that agencies will need to take a closer look at consolidation and virtualization.
See related article: Gov't Customers Demand Tech Solutions Support the Big Picture
Connecting the dots leads you to gain a better understanding of which technologies will be emphasized going forward. Again, because cloud, mobile and social technologies are on the lips of many government program managers, the area of mobile device management also is growing. Consolidation and virtualization also are seeing increased interest lately. Server consolidation has peaked over the past couple of years, and desktop virtualization is emerging as a hot growth area. Generally, those partners and solution providers that can ensure anything they sell can be taken into the agency or systems integrator’s broader framework and architecture will be the most likely to succeed in today’s environment.
The catch here is that you can't just sell point products and expect the government to integrate it all. Technology companies trying to break into the government procurement process must build a relationship of trust with other technology companies’ solution sets as well as with systems integrators and other contractors with whom you will be doing business. If your company provides only one aspect of a total solution, you must be able to explain it authoritatively to those people who will represent you to the government, whether that is a VAR, a solution provider, or a systems integrator. You need to know that your product fits into some gap in the partner’s offering and also demonstrate to your partners that you know enough about how the government works and what its needs are to slot your offering into their solution set.
If you don't have expertise in all of the current hot technology areas—cloud, mobile, social, consolidation and virtualization—look for those companies with whom you can work that have the skill sets to help you bring solutions to market. Understand the partner and solution ecosystem that agencies use to meet programs and mission objectives, and put together a set of product-based solutions that address that environment. Reselling partners have to keep the entire “solutions stack” that an agency will need in mind so they can insert themselves into that offering–or develop strategic partnerships with those that do, enabling government buyers to purchase an entire solution offering through a single source or contract.
The good news is that systems integrators don't have much time to connect the dots themselves and reach out to technology companies to fill the “mission fulfillment” gaps in their own service offerings. It’s up to you to know the big picture yourselves. Be quick and adaptable, understand agency missions and requirements, and have a solution that addresses agencies’ needs – that's when SIs and government program managers will become most keenly interested in what you have to say.
Next Wednesday, in the final installment of this series, we’ll look at the changing role of vendors and resellers in the government dynamic, and some practical advice to best adapt to that role.