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Tech CEOs: How can you learn government mission needs?

By Bob Gourley

If you are a tech CEO building an awesome new capability there is a very high likelihood that government technologists will have an interest. The challenge is in finding which technologists will have an interest. Mission needs drive the actions of government technologists, so the best way to find out who will be most interested in your capability is to have a good understanding of high priority government mission needs. Here are my top ten tips on identifying the government mission needs most relevant to your activities:

Top Ten Ways To Learn Government Mission Needs Relevant To Your Technology

  1. Sign up for FedScoop’s newsletters. FedScoop will point you to write-ups and videos directly from federal CIOs and CTOs. This is a great way to learn more about mission needs.
  2. Join GovLoop. This social network connects forward thinking government professionals and has a very active community of technologists and innovators trying to improve government service to citizens.
  3. Sign up for the newsletters of MeriTalk. There is lots of good content there but I’m especially impressed with Steve O’Keefe’s personal ability to capture and articulate issues.
  4. Review the wealth of information provided by the government at the CIO.gov website. The directives from the White House and the CIO council are critical drivers of action by the federal IT workforce.
  5. Understand where the government’s $82B IT budget will be spent. There is an IT chapter in the President’s budget that is especially important to read (download here, then see chapter 19 on page 349).
  6. Subscribe to the blog at CTOvision.com for daily updates on the status of federal technology. We aim to be technical and if your are a tech CEO you will fill right at home here. For people who really need to know, we also provide more detailed market analysis at CTOlabs.com
  7. Track the Congressional testimony by government officials, especially CIOs. One key committee to track is the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but look for any testimony by a CIO to any committee.
  8. Know the megatrends of enterprise IT. The same big trends that Mary Meeker helps the community track are impacting all in government too. Tracking them can help you anticipate government mission needs.
  9. Track the writings of Alex Howard on every channel you can find him on. Consume his Twitter feed at @digiphile and his blog at e-pluribusunum.com. He is on Google+ at +AlexanderHoward
  10. It is also important to look for ways to network with others in more formal ways. One exemplar in networking in the federal space is MissionLink, a volunteer group of DC based professionals which seek to help CEOs better understand the dynamics of business in the federal space.

By the way, if you do these ten things, you will not only come away with a better understanding of federal mission needs. You will do so in a way that has costs you nothing. There are consultancies here in the beltway that will charge you up to $50k per month and offer little more than what you will learn by following those ten steps. No matter what stage your firm is in, wouldn’t you rather be applying those funds to your engineering team? The time will come when you will need some focused help in growing in the federal space and when you do I hope you will have a discussion with my firm Crucial Point. We love discussions with potential new clients.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.