Michael Shrader, vice president of Intelligence and Innovation Solutions for Carahsoft, recently participated in a Q&A session with ExecutiveBiz to explore why and how federal, state and local government organizations should understand and adopt emerging technologies.
Shrader also described how his company’s new partnership with the Marion Square consulting firm will provide market intelligence to benefit agencies and the IT providers that serve them.
“We advise technology providers on how to package their products in ways that are consumable for government customers. We also advise them on the contract-vehicle landscape, the reseller and prime-contractor ecosystem, and other routes to the market. And we guide them on how to transform a commercial message into a government message.”
You can read the full Q&A with Shrader below:
ExecutiveBiz: What are the key emerging technologies government organizations should be looking at right now?
Michael Shrader: “The emerging technologies agencies should be examining today ideally map to how their budget dollars are being allocated two or three years out. For many organizations, that means taking a close look at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), both of which have rapidly evolving software ecosystems. Cybersecurity will also continue to be critical over the next several years. A lot of innovation is happening in these areas, a lot of new players are coming into the market, and a lot of companies are spinning up new use cases.
Agencies need to constantly keep their finger on the pulse of new providers releasing new functionality. By doing that, they can identify the technologies that will give them the capabilities they’ll need – not just today, but three to five years down the road.”
ExecutiveBiz: Are there reasons agencies should look for solutions from emerging-tech companies over more established IT providers?
Michael Shrader: “Established IT providers can be driven by quarterly earnings, and by matching in-quarter investments to in-quarter results. And while some of these companies do emphasize innovation and the development of new technologies, too many have a vested interest in keeping legacy technologies relevant and focusing on what sells today rather than what will drive progress tomorrow.
Emerging-tech companies are more apt to focus on innovation without having to maintain existing revenue streams or meet this quarter’s revenue projections. They tend to be more agile – in tune to future technology road maps and more responsive to quickly changing market needs.”
ExecutiveBiz: You mentioned the software ecosystem. Is there an advantage to thinking about emerging tech in terms of an ecosystem?
Michael Shrader: “Often it’s a mistake to focus only on point solutions that solve one particular problem. There are a lot of new technologies and new IT products. Many of them complement one another and fit together like puzzle pieces to create a larger solution. You’ll reach the solution you need faster if you look at the entire ecosystem, rather than one product at a time.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does Carahsoft fit into the emerging-tech ecosystem?
Michael Shrader: “We bring together emerging-tech companies with government agencies that can benefit from their solutions.
We make it easier for agencies to connect with the best providers of the best solutions that will actually solve the problems they need to solve. Essentially, we offer our own ecosystem – not just of emerging-tech companies, but of technology providers and agencies partnering toward a common goal.
Our business model works for emerging-tech providers, too, by reducing barriers to entry into the public sector market. For example, we give them access to contract vehicles required to do business with agencies, including include GWACs (Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts), ITES (Information Technology Enterprise Solutions), 2GIT (Second-Generation IT) and SEWP (Solutions for Enterprisewide Procurement). We don’t just focus on federal, either; we provide access to dozens of state and local contract vehicles.
Carahsoft offers numerous other value-added services to both agencies and emerging-tech providers. For instance, we offer resources for marketing, demand generation and lead qualification, all built on best practices and provided at scale in a way that’s much more cost-effective than if the companies were to handle these activities themselves. And we have a strong network of resellers and contractors these organizations can tap into.”
ExecutiveBiz: How do you identify the best emerging-tech companies to partner with?
Michael Shrader: “First, it’s not just about partnering with companies with the best technologies. Yes, that’s important – but it’s also important to partner with companies that offer interesting government use cases. We make sure the companies we work with have an innovative solution that solves a repeatable challenge for public sector agencies in a new way.
This brings up another point: We only work with companies that are serious about serving the public sector market. We know they’re serious if they’re investing in the talent and operations and technology to serve this market.”
ExecutiveBiz: Once you’ve determined that an emerging-tech provider is government-ready, how do you advise them?
Michael Shrader: “The government is different from the commercial sector. Agencies have different needs, purchasing requirements, and even ways of using technology solutions. You can’t use the same tactics when selling to a government customer that you would be selling to a corporation.
So, we advise technology providers on how to package their products in ways that are consumable for government customers. We also advise them on the contract-vehicle landscape, the reseller and prime-contractor ecosystem, and other routes to the market. And we guide them on how to transform a commercial message into a government message.”
ExecutiveBiz: Carahsoft recently announced a new collaboration with Marion Square. How will the partnership benefit emerging-tech companies and the government agencies they serve?
Michael Shrader: “Marion Square is a government-focused consulting firm that helps companies serving the public sector improve sales and growth. Our new partnership is focused on providing market intelligence to emerging-tech companies.
Companies in Carahsoft’s emerging-tech portfolio can work with Marion Square to identify product fit and growth opportunities. They get information about the competitive landscape, relevant funded projects, and points of contact for these projects – all tailored to each company’s offering. With this knowledge, they can move forward and build go-to-market plans that are primed for success.”
About Michael Shrader
Michael Shrader is vice president of Intelligence and Innovation Solutions for Carahsoft, a provider of IT solutions to federal, state and local government agencies and the education and healthcare markets. He leads a dedicated sales team of 300 reps who manage relationships with more than 150 technology manufacturing partners that rely on Carahsoft to help with their public sector go-to-market strategy.