A Busy Week for Government Marketers

Photo of Allan Rubinby Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

This posting is a bit of a catch-all for government marketers, as it seems we’ve just come out of a very busy week. Among the items that have crossed my desk, both good and bad, here are a few of which you should be aware:

Government Media

My alma mater AOL announced it has sold its government portal, AOL Government, to Breaking Media, Inc. (along with other vertical sites for energy, defense, and industry) after a year and a half of publishing. It is yet to be seen how the publisher of Fashionista, Deal Breaker, and Above the Law will handle a government-focused content and advertising product with a social media bent. We wish nothing but the best to government IT publishing veteran Wyatt Kash and his team, who built a great product for AOL, and we look forward to seeing what he does next.

We’re also keeping an eye on Fierce Government IT, which was just named a finalist for a Jesse H. Neal Award for editorial excellence. I remember from my trade publishing days how big a deal that is. Congratulations to publisher Ron Lichtinger, executive editor Dave Perera, and managing editor Molly Walker for their work on this Web site and newsletter. It has been a busy year for Dave, who just co-authored a book with immixGroup’s Steve Charles called the The Inside Guide to the Federal IT Market. (Shameless plug: if you market or sell IT to the government, buy this book.)

Federal Events

If you’re involved with The Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare (AUSA ILW) symposium this week, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: top Army brass have been cleared to attend. The bad? There won’t be as many of them. According to Federal Times, “Army Secretary John McHugh approved the attendance of 76 Army personnel at the conference,” compared to 576 soldiers and civilian employees who traveled to the conference in 2012.

For those looking to support local AFCEA events, the Belvoir Chapter has just postponed its 12th Annual Ft. Belvoir Industry Days conference, scheduled for April 1 to 3, 2013. The chapter cites “current budget directives and fiscal constraints.” I guess even local conferences aren’t safe.

Speaking of AFCEA, we heard at the recent AFCEA West conference from the organization’s president, who held an impromptu meeting for sponsors. Citing recent guidance from DoD, they discussed the approvals process for 2013 conference attendance. Since every service agency has to approve attendance, it is easier to gain approval if only one agency is involved as opposed to multiple agencies, which require multiple approvals.

Further, AFCEA won’t move forward with a conference unless it meets all three of the following criteria:

  1. It is mission critical
  2. It offers a clear value proposition for the government
  3. It provides critical training

AFCEA West, which was declared “mission essential,” cited an increase in government attendance over the previous year (although we haven’t heard that verified, and it’s not too surprising since last year’s event wasn’t strong). Many government employees had to wait until the last minute to receive approval to attend, leading to late registrations. Based on recent events, we expect that to continue.

Thanks to immixGroup’s Jennifer Taylor and FedInsider‘s Peg Hosky for keeping me up to date!

The Federal IT Market

Things are moving pretty quickly, with such game-changers to track as government furloughs, sequestration, the potential expiration of the continuing resolution, FITARA, turnover at the agency CIO level, a new cyber security executive order, and more. If you’re not doing so already, sign up to follow this blog as well as our e-newsletter, Public Sector Business Alert, to learn how these developments may affect your ability to market and sell IT to the government.

WEST 2013 Conference Sheds Light on Future Priorities and Challenges for DOD

photo_Lloyd-McCoy_65x85Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute recently co-sponsored West 2013: Pivot to the Pacific: What are the Practical and Global Implications?” the largest industry event on the West Coast for communications, electronics, and information systems.  Despite limits on travel and budget constraints many high ranking military and civilian leaders attended.  The conference centered on two primary themes, rebalancing U.S. forces toward the Asia-Pacific region, and adjusting to an increasingly austere fiscal climate.

Pivot to the Pacific:

Under Secretary of the Navy, Robert Work, highlighted the imperatives of rebalancing the Pacific. He believes naval forces will be key to the Asia-Pacific region as the area has seen a sharp expansion in major maritime powers over the last decade. Secretary Work highlighted our expanded interests in the region which include:

  • Offshore energy reserves
  • Protection of vital telecommunication networks
  • Aspiring and nuclear powers
  • Thoroughfares of maritime traffic
  • Growing anti-access areas near China and Persian Gulf.

Fiscal Uncertainty:

All of the speakers believed sequestration or comparable sized budgetary cuts were going to happen meaning the government would have to do more with less.  During these fiscally tight times, procurement will be increasingly measured against the extent your product or service addresses the following national security interests:

Six National Security Interests (by order of importance)

  1. Survival of nation
  2. Security of global economic system
  3. Prevention of catastrophic attacks on our nation
  4. Secure, confident, and reliable allies and partners
  5. Protection of American citizens abroad
  6. Protection, and when possible, extension of universal values

Where more of these national security interests are serviced by your product and the higher those interests rank on the list, the more likely you will win.  By extension, if a product can serve more than one of the six national security interests, it will have an advantage.

Companies who attack rising costs and engage in transparent partnerships where cost data/fee structures are shared will gain an advantage over their competitors.  The goal is to build trust in order to better afford to buy things in an increasingly economical environment.  Additionally, if one service can buy a platform that does 85% of what it needs to do, then government might settle for “good enough.” All of the speakers emphasized that industry is part of our total force.  By failing to invest in technology, we will have a hollow force.  The overall health of industry will be carefully considered as the Department of Defense experiences budget cuts.

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