Big sales opportunities in lesser-known agencies: Decoding the Omnibus Bill

By Ryan Nelson, Market Intelligence Manager

The Omnibus Bill 2022 signed by the president about a month ago clocks in at nearly 2800 pages. It’s an annual free-for-all for vendors, with sales teams scouring the pages to compare appropriations to their product and service offerings.

While vendors’ typical targets are big-name agencies, there’s a strong argument to be made to dig a bit deeper below the surface, to the smaller sub-agencies. Big opportunities are often buried in small agency funding, and it’s worth having a closer read of the bill to find out just where those opportunities exist.

After all, you may be unlocking an opportunity that might not be obvious at first read, and therefore may not be as competitive as the larger agency requirements. Put enough of these smaller opportunities together, however, and suddenly you find yourself dealing with enough prospects to keep a team busy for some time.

That said, here are four interesting opportunities you might want to consider as you develop your prospect list from the newly signed budget bill:

1) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Some $38,486,000 is to remain available until expended, for Animal Health Technical Services. Similarly, $4,251,000 is to remain available for information technology infrastructure. That means even agencies that are focused on the health of wildlife, domesticated animals and farmable plants are still a lucrative target for big data, data analytics and network infrastructure components.

2) Farm Service Agency. Necessary expenses for this comparatively low-profile agency actually top $1.1 billion. Information technology represents a significant part of this funding. With programs ranging from aerial photography to financial management information, there are quite a number of opportunities in this agency alone. Most notable is the Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems (MIDAS) program. MIDAS is a web-based modernization initiative to simplify, integrate, and automate the delivery of Farm Programs across the United States.

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Seven ways to improve your sales to state CIOs

By Ryan Nelson, Market Intelligence Manager

State and local legislatures are having a good year. Flush with cash from the federal funding, most states enacted budgets with an increase in spending and revenue for FY2022. According to a recent conference of market analysts and government leaders, states project general fund spending of $1.02 trillion, a 9.3% increase compared to 2021. The education outlook is a bit more cautious, showing a trend of delayed spending of federal funding in K-12 districts. Nonetheless, there is a projected additional $3.5 billion in e-rate funds for 2022 and 2023.

During the recent conference, Jim Weaver, Secretary for Information Technology/State CIO for North Carolina was interviewed about how vendors can better position themselves and present information to decision-makers. Here are some of his top tips:

Taking all of this into account, what do vendors planning to sell into the state and local market need to know? The sales approach to state and local decision-makers is different than the federal market, and vendors should be prepared to make adjustments to their approach, to ensure a better chance of success.

1. Understand the state’s strategic plan. Every state has a strategic plan. Before you engage, know how your products and services will help them achieve their particular goals. Do not ask what an agency’s “pain points” are, or “what keeps you up at night?” You’ll find yourself being redirected back to the strategic plan.

2. States are changing the way they consume info. A crisis is an opportunity to influence change, Weaver said, and that has been true with the pandemic. What’s important now are case studies and the applicability of the study to the particular agency being courted. Messaging has to be eye-catching and visionary, but still based on what’s being done at the strategic planning level. Also, Weaver emphasized being engaged in the procurement process; vendors who aren’t already engaged in the process will most likely not get a lot of traction.

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NASCIO Survey shows three transformation areas: Digital services, cyber and people

By Chauncey Kehoe, SLED Contracts Manager

If 2020 was a roller coaster ride for state CIOs, the priority shaping their decisions now is to push forward with digital transformation.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers publishes an annual survey of state CIOs and their perspectives. The 2021 State CIO Survey reveals insights from 49 state CIOs on the “short-term and long-term impact of the pandemic.”

The overwhelming consensus amongst state CIOs is that digital services, cyber security and people are going to continue to be top priority over the next year. This marks a shift from 2020, where, understandably, the emphasis was on initiating remote working and more online services for citizen programs.

I attended this year’s NASCIO conference, and what I heard from state CIOs was consistent with the survey findings. Let’s take a look at their current and planned focus areas.

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NASCIO Conference to address SLED technology and spending, and honors immixGroup with Longevity Award

By Chauncey Kehoe, SLED Contracts Manager

Each year, The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) selects a recipient of its five-year Corporate Membership Longevity Award. At this year’s meeting, which will be held in Seattle, Wash. from October 10-13, that award will be proudly accepted by immixGroup, Inc.

The Corporate Membership Longevity Award is a significant accomplishment for companies in the state, local and education (SLED) market, because of NASCIO’s respected standing in the industry.

NASCIO’s mission is to foster government excellence through leadership of quality business practices, information management and technology. Through NASCIO’s members-only community, immixGroup has had the opportunity to participate in discussion forums, collaborate with government and industry leaders and take away lessons learned from NASCIO events.

The most valuable benefit we have gained through our NASCIO membership is the ability to understand SLED technology needs and spending trends through committees and working groups. These groups usually consist of SLED chief information officers and industry leaders. The topics range from IT trends to post pandemic life. As participants, we are able to relay this information back to our suppliers and resellers to better prepare them for selling into the SLED space.

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SLED 101 Series – Technology Solves Problems

By Rachel Eckert, SLED market intelligence manager

In our last installment we walked through the IT budget process to help you focus your sales efforts more strategically and develop more targeted account lists.

This, our fourth installment, will dive into what technologies states and localities will be buying with their IT budgets and how vitally important the role of citizen is to driving adoption.

Despite some uncertainty in IT spending, state, local and education organizations are still looking for technology solutions. The ongoing pandemic caused major shifts, not only to working environments, but in how SLED organizations provided citizen services. With an inability to provide in-person services, SLED organizations needed to rapidly deploy digital and online services, forcing many states to re-evaluate their IT suites.

Cybersecurity is a constant

Even during a time rapid changes, there is still one constant when it comes to states, counties and cities — cybersecurity. With the rise in ransomware attacks over the last several years, several states have made the shift to a “whole-of-state” approach, which I wrote about in a recent blog. This means the state and all of the jurisdictions in the state work together to develop a plan for a coordinated response during an incident.

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SLED 101 Series – Follow the Funding

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

This second installment of our SLED 101 series focuses on funding and budget cycles.

Not all money is created equal when it comes to state, local and education (SLED) funding. Understanding where money comes from and how budgets are built will help you better time and align your sales efforts to when your customers will be most receptive to new IT project ideas.

Funding sources dictate spending flexibility.

Let’s start by understanding the different sources of spending. The largest chunk of spending in most states comes out of what is typically referred to as the General funds budget. This budget represents the largest share of revenue collected by states and significantly impacts a state’s overall ability to spend. General funds have the most flexibility and are recurring funds received yearly. They can be used for a variety of products and services, including include IT. Most of your sales will come from this budget.

The other pieces of the pie, like Federal or Other state fees, have stipulations and limitations on their use, making them a bit more challenging to leverage. This isn’t to say that there aren’t IT opportunities related to Federal funds or Other state fees, just that those funds are less flexible in their use and allocation.

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Top Four 2021 State CIO Priorities

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

The release of the Top Ten Priorities for State CIOs in 2021 in December by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), places digital government at the top of the list for the second year in a row. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of certain technologies by government as they look to provide quicker and more efficient services to citizens and employees.

Looking at the year ahead, state governments recognize that they will continue to need technology solutions that support digital modernization for applications that enable remote workforce accessibility and online interactions with citizens. Here are the top four technology priorities that CIOs are looking for:

(1) Cloud Solutions

With the migration of traditional in-person services online, cloud technologies are crucial to deliver services en masse. Cloud solutions allow agencies to operate more efficiently, delivering services to a larger number of citizens. However, agencies will need vendor assistance to help them through the migration process so that services are migrated seamlessly, with no loss in uptime.

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SLED 101 Series – What is the SLED market?

Welcome to the first blog of our SLED 101 series. Over the next few months, you’ll see a series of blogs that walk through the basics of the state, local and education markets. Topics will include understanding the budget cycles, identifying the IT budget, navigating CIO priorities, understanding procurement, differentiating master contracts and cooperative contracts, and finally, comparing the SLED market to the federal market.

To kick things off, I wanted to start by defining what the SLED market entails and why understanding their independence is crucial to success. When we talk about SLED, we are talking about more than 90,000 different government organizations.

  • 50 States
  • 3,000+ Counties / Boroughs / Parishes
  • 36,000+ Cities / Towns / Municipalities
  • 12,000+ Public School Systems
  • 2,000+ Higher Education Institutions
  • 38,000+ Special Districts
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Three Top Cloud Opportunities in the SLED Market

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

As I discussed in my recent session at the Arrow Technology Summit (now available on-demand), state and local governments are slowly making investments to upgrade and update aging legacy IT systems. As they do, they are presented with opportunities to increase their use of the cloud to provide digital and online services that will expand their constituent support — an especially important goal as many government buildings are currently closed.

While state governments are making larger and more substantial migrations to cloud services, many states are still working on what I’ll call the basics, things like email or other collaboration tools. Also topping the list are disaster recovery and office productivity tools. States that had already migrated these solutions to the cloud have had a significant advantage in terms of their preparedness to support a large-scale work-from-home environment. Read more of this post

SLED Cybersecurity Opportunities: The “Whole-of-State” Approach

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

Cybersecurity incidents increase every year, and state, local and education entities are struggling to respond in the face of limited funding and resources.

As I talked about in a recent virtual event, that response is taking the form of a synchronized “whole-of-state” approach to state and local cybersecurity initiatives. In this approach, all stakeholders – state IT, national guard, local law enforcement, local government and schools – are pulled together to develop a cohesive and coordinated response plan. The plan leverages state services, such as incident management, awareness and training, forensics, use of the security operations center and vulnerability management.

The potentially good news here is that additional federal funding may be coming to help states and local governments tackle cyber issues. The House has passed the State & Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act. If enacted as law, this measure will provide some $400M per year for states to coordinate with local governments on a cohesive security plan and response strategy, and to support upgrades to state and local systems.

Here are just a few categories of opportunities to consider, in this new era of SLED cybersecurity: Read more of this post

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