(Photo by Flickr user wallyg, used under a Creative Commons license)
Spending over $90 billion annually, there is perhaps no bigger purchaser of technology than the U.S. government. From cutting-edge drones that aid in natural disaster relief to advanced cybersecurity to fend off future threats to the modernization of government systems, there are a myriad of opportunities for tech companies interested in working with Uncle Sam.
So how do you get your foot in the door? Well, here’s a start.
Oct. 14–17, the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council, better known as ACT-IAC, will host its annual flagship conference, Imagine Nation ELC 2018, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City Philadelphia.
The conference, which brings together all levels of professionals from the tech industry and the U.S. government, provides an opportunity for learning and collaboration across every facet of the government’s technology ecosystem.
Want to attend? ACT-IAC is offering member-based pricing to the Technical.ly audience. To register and get your discount, click here. Register using “PhillyTech” in the code field.
An Industry of Opportunity
Though government work has a reputation for getting tangled up in bureaucratic gridlock, what many technology companies and startups might not realize is that the pros vastly outweigh the cons.
“People don’t tend to think of the government as an innovative organization. It’s slow moving. But if you really sit back and think about it, the government has spurred a lot of the major innovations in the tech industry over the past decades,” said John Foley, the president of govtech firm DSA.
“If you look at the conference agenda, the spectrum of IT interests go from basic, commoditized IT to cutting-edge technology such as Internet of Things, robotics, AI, systems modernization, DevOps, agile development, cybersecurity,” Foley said.
In addition to developing exciting technology, there are unique benefits to hitching your tech wagon to the government. For one, you get a fair shake at every opportunity. The government can’t show any favoritism. It must afford the same opportunities to all vendors, and transparency in decision-making is enforced.Also, doing business with the government allows companies to minimize the volatility that comes with economic cycles. The government business is immune to recessions, and therefore offers its suppliers security and consistency.
And then there’s the chance to make a serious civic impact. Your work matters.
“Most of us in the industry really care about the mission,” said Fran Pierce, the CEO and 40-year veteran of DSA who built and grew the govtech firm into a $90 million business. “Securing our nation, securing our citizens. The purpose, the mission, is something you can get behind. The impact of your work is significant.”
Though at many conferences professionals are working hard to make deals and sell their products and services, Imagine Nation ELC 2018 is designed to have the opposite effect.
Business development and sales activity are strictly prohibited.
The focus, instead, is on collaboration and “thoughtful solution-ing.” The event is regarded as a safe space to discuss, dissect and solve the government’s most pressing challenges as a collective community.
Another effort the conference has made to promote collaboration and communication over the years is to strive for a 3:1 ratio of industry to government attendees. The decision was made after experiencing other conferences where government speakers were often swarmed. ELC leaders wanted to design this event differently, and with a sense of decorum.
Get in the Game
Even if you aren’t ready to dive into a contract with the government quite yet, Imagine Nation ELC 2018 is the most effective event for learning the ropes of how to get into business with the government, meeting and building essential relationships with the community, and discovering ways for your company to make a deeper civic impact.
Or, as Tony Scott — CIO of the U.S. Government for the last two years of the Obama Administration and co-chair of this year’s conference — put it: “This is a place where the game is being played. For anyone wanting to move their career along in government, rubbing shoulders with those that have gone before you, as well as suppliers that support the government, is one of the most important things you can do. Get out there, share ideas, learn, teach. Get in the game.”-30-
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