So, You’ve Got an App for That. Now What?

A mobile app launches in the App Store, but no one downloads it. Does it make an impact? Unlike the philosophical exercise of the "if a tree falls in the forest" question, this similarly worded one has a definite answer -- if no one is using your mobile app, the work and resources you've put into it are wasted.

The ubiquity of mobile devices, the comfort with apps, and the options for no-code development all have made apps a real option for all types and sizes of events. With app adoption, event organizers can reduce paper, create more interactivity with the audience, and gather data on their experience before, during, and after the event. Today, we want to focus on making sure people are using event apps so that these benefits can be realized. Continue reading

Now More Than Ever, Events are a Key Part of the Government Contractor Marketing Spend

Market Connections recently released the findings of their 2018 Federal Government Contractor Study. This year's study had a special focus on the collaboration between Business Development (BD)/sales teams and marketing departments.

When it comes to organizational structure, the study found that the respondent pool was split about 50/50 with half having BD and Marketing report up to different supervisors and the other half having a shared supervisor for the two functions. Interestingly, the study found that companies with separate reporting structures had a higher win rate than those with a shared structure. As one of the speakers said, "what this shows is that BD and marketing are generally rowing in the same direction, even if they are not in the same boat."

One area where both BD and marketing do seem to be sharing a boat (much to our delight) is event sponsorship. Of those surveyed, 86% said that event sponsorship was a part of their marketing spend for 2018. Not only are organizations spending money on events, but they are seeing a return on that investment -- 64% said event marketing was very or somewhat effective in filling the pipeline with qualified leads (making events one of the top five tactics for pipeline marketing). Continue reading

Hybrid Technology: It’s Not Just for Cars, It’s in the Cloud

As cloud gains momentum as a platform for government IT, the one-size-fits-all solution is becoming obsolete. Government organizations require unique solutions to suit their specific needs, which is why understanding the cloud platform options is the first step to making the change to the cloud. Initially, there were public clouds hosted completely off government sites by a third party (like Google or Amazon Web Services). Then came private clouds, infrastructure and networks designed as a cloud but only available to a closed loop of individuals. Private clouds are hosted on-premise by the government entity they were built for. Now, there is a third type of cloud implementation that is proving to be the most popular and most attractive to government agencies - the hybrid cloud.

Hybrid infrastructures mean that some elements are hosted in a cloud (either public or private) while others are managed on-premise. There is a connection that allows all systems to work seamlessly. This set-up alleviates security concerns and helps organizations maintain tight control over critical applications.

Additionally, a hybrid environment helps avoid vendor lock-in. As agencies found with hardware, becoming an all "one vendor" shop has drawbacks. While going with a single IT vendor can have initial cost savings and economies of scale, in the long run, agencies grew frustrated when that one vendor could not innovate quick enough or provide the support they needed. Agencies are wary of falling into the same trap with cloud providers and look to spread out their applications across several platforms. This allows them to pick the cloud infrastructure that works best for that particular IT solution. There are hybrid cloud management tools that "abstract away many of the common features offered by different cloud providers" making it easier to manage multiple clouds. Continue reading

This is the Greatest Show!

Attendees today are looking for more than an informative event. In an age where you can learn almost anything via YouTube, why would you take time out of a busy schedule to attend an event in person? It's all about the experience of learning with others and connecting with new people. Fortunately, event producers do not have to resort to bringing in elephants and fire breathers a 'la PT Barnum, there are a number of ways to drive the interactivity of events.

Many times the biggest hurdle to making a show more interactive is not technology or process, but attitude. During the planning stages, there is frequently a push-back that, "our attendees won't like that." While it is important to know your audience, a look at some basic demographics shows that most attendees (especially those going to Government-focused events) will embrace the opportunity to participate in a more interactive event.

People who were educated in the U.S. over the past 25 years were most likely exposed to "team learning." They broke into groups, discussed findings, gave presentations, and often experienced a very democratic way of learning. In childhood, the cartoons people watched talked directly to them and asked for help in problem solving - Blues Clues or Dora the Explorer broke the fourth wall of theater asking children to help find the circle. Continue reading

Thoroughly Modern Government

The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was passed in late 2017 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. MGT creates working capital funds for IT projects that will "improve service delivery to the public, secure sensitive systems and data, and save taxpayer dollars."

This $228 million fund allows agencies to borrow money to transition to new technologies. It can also serve as the start-up for working capital funds for ongoing IT projects. Agencies must submit proposals to an interagency board in order to receive money from the general fund. This Technology Modernization Board will be responsible for approving certain projects and making funding recommendations to the General Services Administration, which administers the funds.

This money is intended to fund critical efforts including replacing infrastructure and applications that pose a high cybersecurity risk, legacy systems that are costly to operate, and IT that can support citizen service goals as laid out in the President's Management Agenda. The goal of MGT is to jump start projects that will generate future savings for agencies, but repayment is not contingent upon agencies actually seeing those savings, the loan must be repaid regardless of project results or savings.

MGT is really a proof of concept, or a new way of funding IT within government. As OMB and GSA work to provide guidance and administer the funds, agencies are looking for ways to present their projects in the best light to not only receive funding but also achieve efficiency goals. Luckily, there are a number of events where agencies can share modernization experiences and best practices as well as discuss how best to use MGT funds. Here are a few events that will focus on modernization as a key goal within government.

  • Defense Systems Summit (July 11; Arlington, VA) - With a theme of IT Everywhere: Technology's Role in Tomorrow's Military, this 1105 Media event will bring together the DoD community to discuss how IT teams manage operations by maintaining legacy systems alongside emerging technology. With a focus on weaving in modern technologies, the event will include discussion on AI, defense cyber tools, IoT, and more.
  • Beyond Telework. IT Modernization Strategies for Competing in the Full Employment Era (July 24; Washington, DC) - This event is focused on how the federal government can compete to secure the best and brightest talent. With enthusiasm for teleworking tempering within government (and it being so widely used in the private sector), agencies need to look to other IT modernization strategies to create a flexible, next-gen workplace.
  • Cyber Excellence: Modern, Secure, Resilient (August 2; Washington. DC) - Looking at modernization through the reality of MGT funding, this event looks to explain how to use the guidance and funding coming from the executive branch to accelerate progress. Discussion will focus on key cyber strategies that will improve security postures today while paving the road to a more dynamic, high performance government.
  • IT Modernization Conference @930gov (August 28; Washington, DC) - This event will look at the current state of the Executive Office's 'Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government' initiative and address what lies ahead for FY'19 and beyond. Sessions will address the strategies, tactics and policies around the modernization efforts.
  • 2018 Public Sector Innovation Summit (December 4; Washington, DC) - Attendees will explore how technology-driven innovation is advancing government. Top technology innovators and influencers across the public and private sectors will converge to discuss what's shaping the future of digital government.

We'd love to hear from you. Where are you learning about how best to apply for and use MGT funds? Share your thoughts in the comments.