What you need to know about Army’s IT modernization strategy

By Stephanie Meloni, senior consultant

The Army views multi-domain operations as the future operating concept it needs to gain a competitive advantage against adversaries.

Despite the possibility of receiving increased funding under a new administration, the Army will largely be focused on readiness, as opposed to modernization. Readiness ensures that soldiers have proper training and equipment, while modernization would mean investing in new capabilities and technologies.

The good news for the IT industry is that multi-domain operations is a concept that addresses both modernization and readiness. And it will ultimately help the warfighter out-maneuver adversaries in land, cyber and intelligence. (You can hear more in my recent on-demand webinar on the Army’s IT Modernization Plan.)

Implementing multi-domain operations will entail significant changes to enterprise architecture and networking infrastructure to give the Army the flexibility it needs when it comes to configuration management and data sharing. This concept is all about data integration—and performing analysis on the data itself. Here are some ways the Army will be using its data to improve operations:

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3 trends to watch at the VA in 2017

As the only civilian agency with a new FY17 appropriation, the Department of Veterans Affairs would have been a high-profile sales target even without the attention paid to it on the campaign trail. However, between reorganizations, new programs and budgetary tug-of-war contests, it can be difficult to figure out where exactly you need to sell.

Here are three trends to watch in the next year as the administration’s priorities take shape. You can hear more on the department in my recent webinar, IT Sales Opportunities at the VA: Everything You Need to Know but Were Afraid to Ask:

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Where USDA Will Focus Its IT Spend in FY17

Kevin Shaker_65 x 85USDAwebinar_081816By Kevin Shaker, Analyst

Big data and analytics technology will be in hot demand at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in FY17. Why? The U.S. agriculture industry is going through a major transition: Climate change is affecting temperate thresholds for certain crops, urban sprawl is spreading over potentially useful crop land, and farmers are battling consumer diet and income changes.

With so many variables, USDA CIO Jonathan Alboum has emphasized the absolute importance of big data and analytics, along with visualization technology in USDA’s IT structure.

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Consolidation Ain’t Just for Data Centers

mark-wisinger_65x85data centerBy Mark Wisinger, Analyst

The Department of Defense has a multitude of agencies with missions varying from missile defense to audit compliance. The challenge is noticing the subtle overall trends that permeate their IT priorities.

One word describes what the agencies are up to: Consolidation. It’s happening on several fronts, including procurement, the data center, and the application portfolio.

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New Data on How to Reach Government Customers

bphoto_Allan-Rubin_65x85y Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

As today’s government shutdown clearly illustrates, it’s hard to get anything done when two parties are so far apart in their beliefs. Could the same communication breakdown be occurring between government marketers and our prospective customers?

At some point (hopefully soon), they’ll be back at their desks browsing the Web, opening our email on mobile devices, and maybe venturing out of the office once or twice a year to meet with industry face-to-face (assuming they’ve been given the proper hall pass). If we want to capture their attention, we have to follow their lead.

I was recently invited to review and comment on the results of an original research study by Market Connections and Boscobel Marketing Communications:

Connecting with Government Customers in an Era of Event and Travel Restrictions

The study identifies how government employees plan to obtain the information and training they used to receive from live events. Its aim is to give contractors current insights into their target customer base that will help them refocus their efforts to reach government prospects.

I’ve written extensively about the challenges we’ve encountered with live events over the past 18 months, and the study provides data that supports our concerns. It also gives recommendations on what to do about it.

An interesting part of the study highlights a potential gulf between the way we want to market to the government and how our customers want to find information. It’s summarized in the graphic below.

Different Opinions

This data held a few surprises for me:

  • It’s easy to see that contractors have shied away from print advertising in trade publications just from picking one up, but interesting that customers still rate them so highly;
  • Only 21 percent of contractors surveyed think government will get information and training online. Really? There’s this cool new thing called the Internet…
  • Apparently, we in the contracting community think prospects are much more interested in talking to us directly than they appear to be.

There are plenty of other nuggets in here that make it a worthwhile read. I hope you’ll check out the study!

Reloading Your Federal Marketing Toolbox

photo_Allan-Rubin_65x85by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

My mother likes to complain that my father takes tools from the toolbox and doesn’t replace them, leaving her with a handful of nails and no hammer to drive them. Frustrating, right?

Marketers trying to attract the attention of government buyers face a similar dilemma: tools are getting taken from our tool kits and not replaced. Since my last posting about government event cancellations, we’ve heard of at least two more: the Department of Homeland Security’s 6th Annual Industry Day and DIA’s Defense Intelligence Worldwide will not take place.

Traditional media sources continue to struggle, with editors and reporters being downsized and print magazines continuing to consolidate. The impact of Sequestration cuts on major contractors and systems integrators is unlikely to help this trend as marketing budgets will surely be hit.

Those of us who are active in lead generation (via phone campaigns, email blasts, and events) will surely see conversion rates take a hit as furloughs kick in. What’s the best day or time to call or email someone if they’re not working that day? Will ongoing furloughs, downsizing, and political fights over giving a meager 0.5 percent pay raise break their spirits and drive them out?

Today’s blog post in FedConnects raised a few interesting questions. Among them:

How will government address the need for civil servants and military and intelligence workers to stay abreast of new technologies, innovate and collaborate in order to increase efficiencies and ensure productivity?  As part of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, we are supposed to be operating under an open government mandate that encourages less siloing, more sharing of services and innovations.

How can true transparency and efficiency be achieved if government is restricting collaboration and opportunities for government leaders and industry to share ideas and work on problems?

If your organization relies on you to create demand in the public sector, it’s time focus on finding new tools to supplement the old ones. Will virtual events play a role as live conferences drop like flies? What role will associations play in educating our customers? How about social media driven information sources like GovLoop and Federal Technology Insider? I think it’s time to work some of these into your public sector marketing budgets, in addition to the targeted, local, and low-key events that were highlighted in Market Connections’ recent study.

Speaking of tools, we have a few that can help you make sense of Sequestration and the ongoing budget mess. Our Sequestration Resource Guide provides our take on how to deal with the pending cuts and also points you to market intelligence resources that can help. In addition, we’ve already had hundreds of IT sales and marketing professionals register for our upcoming webinar on Sequestration and the Federal Budget.

With so many tools vanishing these days, make sure you re-evaluate and take advantage of the ones that are left.

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