Unless you’ve been in hibernation for the last five months, you’ve probably heard that the Federal Government is in a bit of a transitional moment. Intermittent upheaval on the Hill is as much a part of Washington as potholes on 14th Street and Metro single-tracking, with new presidential administrations invariably re-prioritizing initiatives and re-allocating funds. While the shifts signaled by the 2016 election are potentially seismic, even by DC standards, change can mean opportunity for the well-positioned vendor. As priorities shift, agencies suddenly flush with funds begin evaluating additional solutions, while those faced with diminished resources may turn to technology to streamline operations. Should legacy partners prove insufficient to meet morphing demands, new suppliers may find a foothold on the rocky federal terrain—provided they’re equipped, and able to maneuver the maze of trails that lead to the purse strings. As such, there couldn’t be a more fitting moment for RainKing’s entry into the federal marketplace with a solution for vendors in search of opportunity amid the chaos and red tape.
Follow the Money
Despite common perceptions that the Federal Government functions primarily to pass laws and drop bombs, the much maligned bureaucracy must execute basic enterprise functions just like any other organization, but at a grander scale. That means every year, the Federal Government invests in all varieties of technology. The sheer magnitude of technology investment in the federal space has made it increasingly hard for a technology sales and marketing intelligence provider like RainKing to ignore.
“A lot of what drives the universe of what RainKing tracks is the amount of technology budget in particular companies,” explains RainKing’s Chief Content Officer, Jenny Kitchen. “When you think of it that way, the Federal Government alone has the largest IT budget of any company out there. It’s not your normal for-profit corporation, but that alone puts it front and center as a target.”
The Federal Government spent over $80 billion on IT in 2016. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) alone has an annual IT spend of roughly $31 billion—nearly twice that of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. However, DOD also exemplifies how convoluted and seemingly impenetrable the Federal Government can be. Nearly thirty agencies and operational entities fall under the DOD umbrella, as do all four branches of the armed services. As a result, technology operations are often decentralized and disparate, even within a single agency. RainKing’s multi-pronged research methodology is uniquely suited for finding where funds are allocated, and what is being purchased within such labyrinthine organizations.
Adapting rigorous research strategies honed through a decade of deep dives into the world’s largest corporations, RainKing is able to identify the pain points plaguing high-level technology decision-makers which often precede spending initiatives. Kitchen asserts that “what we hear from many technology vendors is that by the time there is an RFP, it’s too late.” This forward-looking philosophy enables RainKing users to begin building relationships with key decision-makers based on the tried and true alignment of problems and solutions.
Picking the People
While following the money leads to opportunity, any seasoned sales pro will attest that the key to converting a proposal into a deal is pitching the right person. Connecting with the correct decision-maker can be particularly challenging in the federal space, where titles are often nebulous and indecipherable to outsiders. The number of “specialists” roaming the hallowed halls of the Hill is surely enough to make holders of the title feel anything but special. Thus, when designing RainKing for Fed, it was imperative to piece together organizational charts every bit as comprehensive as those in RainKing’s already-established datasets.
While many federal sales enablement tools profile procurement leaders, often culled from RFPs, RainKing’s team of specialized research analysts spent months delving into federal IT divisions. The resulting dataset details not only reporting structures, but also specific responsibilities and technologies under the purview of profiled IT leaders. For vendors, this means not only multiple entry points at a given agency, but also the context with which to grab a technology leader’s attention. Kitchen expounds, “Any common ground that a user of RainKing can find with a particular agency, or company, or person, becomes something they can build a relationship upon, and then ultimately a sale. That immediately shows the value of RainKing.”
Even with many agencies facing historically deep funding cuts under the new administration’s proposed budget, RainKing’s research methodology is uniquely suited to adapt the product on the fly and pinpoint the opportunity within the austerity. A bi-monthly contact re-verification schedule enables RainKing to identify the type of staff shake-ups and organization restructuring that are inevitable with budget cuts, and provides users with up-to-date org charts and decision-makers—many likely eager to explore digital solutions to offset understaffing.
Tackling the Techs
In RainKing’s decade of corporate technology research, one of the more pronounced patterns across industries has also been one of the most intuitive: as staffs grow leaner, reliance on technology grows heavier. Should proposed budget cuts pass, we may see that axiom play out on the federal stage. But tightening purse strings also make complete overhauls of existing technology ecosystems unlikely, as decision-makers look to more cost-effect ways to augment what’s already in place. “You’re not just blindly guessing which products are most likely to be installed within the different agencies,” Kitchen emphasizes. “It’s being able to assess your opportunities in the context of what an agency is already using—perhaps it’s a competitor, or maybe it’s not a complete solution. Whatever the case, RainKing delivers a 360 degree view that fully equips customers to efficiently target and win new business.”
While many federal sales enablement tools are rooted in research of government structures, RainKing’s platform is built atop a foundation of technology intelligence. RainKing for Fed offered over 10,000 technologies linked to 150 agencies at its launch in April. In the 2 months since then, the technology intelligence has grown by 30% with the addition of 3,000 new technology install signals. RainKing grew out of the belief that it is the marriage of contacts and technologies that breeds truly actionable intelligence. Nowhere is that philosophy born out more starkly than in the federal space, where responsibility areas are sharply delineated, and managers with similar titles may oversee vastly different technology groups. Days or weeks spent navigating the bureaucracy to reach a decision-maker can be for naught if incomplete intelligence leads to the wrong person. “RainKing’s Federal intelligence gives people the opportunity to go beyond a cold call,” Kitchen says. “It makes it a much warmer call to go in with some insight of what they are already using and why they are using it.”
First 100 Days
The first hundred days in office are generally viewed as a defining period for a new administration; the time when agendas are unveiled and legislative frameworks are built. As RainKing’s Federal dataset approaches its hundredth day, the product is taking shape as a comprehensive and fluid federal technology intelligence platform rooted at the nexus of spending priorities, decision-makers, and technologies. However, just as an effective government is continually refining its vision based on the needs of an ever-changing world, so too is RainKing. Kitchen underscores that RainKing for Fed is a dynamic entity that will continue to grow and evolve in response to market shifts, as well as user needs. “This is a brand new dataset,” she explains. “Once we had researched a critical mass that we knew our customers would benefit from, we wanted to release it to them as soon as possible. The rapid and continued growth since launch demonstrates that we have only scratched the surface of capturing federal opportunities, and we anticipate a sustained data growth trajectory for the foreseeable future.”
Kitchen sees the next phase of RainKing’s Federal research growing more user-centric, fleshing out contact and company details so that customer searches yield the most precise results possible. “We’re looking at the data the way our customers would. Literally going through the product, and saying, ‘Okay, here’s the technology matrix for, the Department of Energy. We know there’s more people responsible for security, let’s go find them.’” The research team has already leveraged user feedback to further enhance the data, having recently doubled the number of federal data storage contacts in under a week at the request of a client.
While anxiety in Washington continues to grow over how the new iteration of the Federal Government will ultimately look, one thing remains certain: the role of technology in government will only continue to grow over time. RainKing for Fed is uniquely equipped to provide context, content, and insight to facilitate business development in the federal space, whatever form it may take.