Today marks the launch date of the Ballston Innovative Initiative (BI2), another notch in the beltway highlighting the technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem that exists in the Washington, DC region. The press release outlines the program as it is shaping up, a series of events taking place around the region between April and June, 2013.
BI2 was the brainchild of Jonathan Aberman, founder and Managing Director of Amplifier Ventures, creator of the esteemed FounderCorps, guitarist for Two Car Living Room, professor, entrepreneurship professor at Smith Business School, University of Maryland, and co-host of Left Jab Radio.
As if he didn't have enough going on, he drummed up the idea to launch a three-month initiative designed to bring together entrepreneurs, academia and government, to demonstrate that the Greater Washington region can accelerate its growth as an entrepreneurial center by taking advantage of opportunities to work with the funding source and buyer of the most cutting edge of technologies.
You won't want to miss the Launch Party, to be held April 18th, featuring keynote speaker Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, and delivering a panel of respected CEOs that have launched successful ventures that focused on building products critical to our national security agencies.
We sat down with Jonathan to learn more about what insprired this initiative, what he hopes to accomplish, and what we can expect to see.
Jonathan Aberman, founder and Managing Director, Amplifier Ventures
SPEAKERBOX: So, Jonathan, there is such a focus on what's happening in government right now, with Sequestration, with our elected officials, why this, and why now?
JONATHAN: Well, despite the hubbub in Washington today, one thing remains...we still need to support creating the technology that this country needs to protect and serve. And many companies are doing just that, but face challenges in bringing products to market. Moreover, technology procurement is very centralized on a small number of companies and sources. There are literally millions of entrepreneurs and technologists that are invisible to our national security agencies. And, vice versa. Efforts to date to bridge these gaps have just brushed the surface of what could be done. It’s a big job and one that could really help our region and the nation at a time of budgetary reallocations. Folks know that the world of national security is changing, but they don’t quite know into what. We thought that by raising awareness and bringing folks in the community together we could advance figuring this out. I think this can bring some positive energy to the government technology landscape, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty.
SPEAKERBOX: Tell us more about this 3-month initiative, and what prompted the idea.
JONATHAN: This stems from the idea that the biggest funders and purchasers of advanced technology are in our back yard...in Ballston and the Greater Washington region. The relationship between new technology and government spending, particularly in national security, is really striking. For instance, if you look at the industrial history of the US, quite literally every major technology industry that we have benefitted from since World War II was fostered in a significant way by national security research and development or purchasing. The smart phone you use today is a great example – the chips inside it, the GPS system, the voice enablement of Siri and the internet it relies on – came out of national security funded basic research and development.
There are over 70,000 emerging companies financed a year that focus on new technologies (and this is just VC and Angel financed companies -- there are many others that are self funded), and very few of these companies and entrepreneurs are engaged with the national security agencies. The entrepreneurs behind them, and the broader community of technologists both in and out of universities, are often working on technologies and approaches that would be perfectly suited to address technology requirements for the Department of Defense, DARPA, or other intelligence agencies. But both sides need help; startups don't often know how to navigate the purchasing landscape and the world of FARs and contract vehicles, and the agency program managers don't always have visibility to what are called by many “nontraditional performers.” We want to bring these two worlds together, and surround them with a support structure and ecosystem in business and academia, that can help further this for a greater good.
SPEAKERBOX: What types of events will there be?
JONATHAN: Well, so far we have the launch event organized. That will be a lot of fun, and should be a great opportunity to hear some well-known entrepreneurs share their experiences and meet fellow community members. I’m happy that Carly Fiorina was willing to come along and join us in particular, as she is a tireless advocate of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. When I told her about the intiative a few weeks ago she was immediately engaged with it. Peggy Styer of Blackbird Technologies and Steven Chen of Power Fingerprinting are great examples of the kind of national security entrepreneurship that we want to promote.
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard
We have another of other impressive people lined up and will be adding to our announced speakers next week. The other events that are planned and will be rolled out over the next week or two, including a bootcamp to teach entrepreneurs how to start a government contractor, or otherwise work with the government, a suite of high quality classes around entrepreneurship, company creation and expansion (taught by FounderCorps) and a company showcase event that will bring together promising technology startups with investors and program managers. There are also some things in the hopper that are more targeted to bringing nontraditional performers into contact with national security program managers, because we hope to do some things there too.
SPEAKERBOX: Are these events open to the general public?
JONATHAN: Absolutely. We'd like to see as many supporters as possible for this initiative, and to see it grow and expand. We're thrilled to see so many folks come in from academia, the business community, the government, and local government agencies such as Arlington County.
I'd also like to give a hat tip to my friend Bill Flook, who ran an article on this initiative this morning (note, subscription required) in the Washington Business Journal. It goes into more detail on what we're looking to do.
SPEAKERBOX: Thanks, Jonathan, this sounds like a terrific program, and we'll be excited to follow along! How can we find out more?
JONATHAN: We have a website which will be continually updated to reflect new speakers, programs, etc.: www.ballstoni2.com. You can also register there online. And follow BI2 on twitter @ballstoni2. Check back from time to time for updates, hope to see you all at the launch event!
--Elizbeth Shea, @eliz2shea
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Doug Mashkuri, VP at GovLoop to learn what's new at the online community for public sector professionals. You may be surprised to read about the growth at GovLoop and the range of opportunities for technology companies to engage with this audience.
Doug, Thanks for taking the time to fill us in on all the news at GovLoop. What's changed in the last year?
Doug: A lot has changed…..let’s start with the broad strategy and then I’ll list some specifics.
In the last 18 months GovLoop has evolved from a social network for government to a knowledge network for government. The primary goal of GovLoop has and always will be to help government professionals do their jobs better through collaboration and engagement with each other and industry. When GovLoop originally launched, the content was 100% peer created. Over time, we were able to identify emerging topics based on the government community discussion taking place on GovLoop and see where knowledge gaps existed. Based on these findings, we have created a series of resources (Guides, Blogs, Infographics, Case Studies, Webinars, Events) around these topics to assist our readers in navigating the complexities of their agency’s mission.
Now for some specific growth numbers and recent enhancements-
- Member Growth 10,000 in 2009 to 65,000 today
- 2013 Monthly Unique Visitors: 100,000+
- Increased the reach to senior government leaders with the addition of Chris Dorobek and the Dorobek INISDER on GovLoop in 2012
- Lead Generation – GovLoop averages 550+ registrants/webinar
- Content Strategy – through the products listed above our strategy is to provide a 360 degree view of the topic. This is accomplished by surveying our government readers to better understand their challenges, conducting interviews with government subject matter experts and highlighting how industry is working with their government customers to help them solve challenges.
What are some of the hottest topics or groups on GovLoop?
Doug: The hot topics we are seeing on GovLoop are Customer Service and Citizen Engagement, Big Data, Mobile, Gov 2.0, Telework, Cloud, Digital Strategy, Data Center Consolidation, Agile Government and Acquisition. The most common theme we see, regardless of topic, is the need of our users to have access to information that can help them be more innovative and resourceful in a tough economic climate.
What are the best ways for individuals to get involved with GovLoop?
Doug: GovLoop offers many ways for individuals to jump in. To get the most out of GovLoop one should register first (government and industry are all welcome), subscribe to our daily newsletter, read the top blogs and access the Resources tab to see all of the great resources available to you. From there, jump in to the conversation by commenting on existing blogs, ask questions or create a post of your own. GovLoop is all about the government community helping one another.
How can brands become involved with GovLoop?
Doug: Brands can participate in many ways on GovLoop from creating thought leadership blog posts, participating in on-going discussions, attending GovLoop webinars and events, posting their company profile in our Vendor Directory and posting events to our event calendar – all these actions are free. All we ask is that the content be focused on education/thought leadership and light on “selling." In addition, there are multiple paid opportunities to sponsor guides, custom content, webinars, newsletters and other programs.
Regardless of paid or free, brands have a great opportunity to share their thought leadership and examples of how they are helping their government clients succeed.
Historically, you've worked with big brands and budgets. How are you supporting the needs of smaller B2G brands?
Doug: In the last year we have worked with brands of all sizes. With an expanding product set we now have the flexibility to offer long and short term programs at varying price levels. Regardless of size of company, our sales process is consistent – gain an understanding of your marketing needs, target audience and ROI metrics. Once we are confident we can deliver on those needs we will customize a proposal to fit your needs and budget and at the conclusion provide you with a comprehensive metric dashboard that highlights your results.
Specifically, we have helped small B2G brands with engagement (blog series, guides, case studies) and lead generation (events, webinars) strategies that have helped them establish their thought leadership and brand awareness with the GovLoop audience.
What's the most surprising thing about GovLoop?
Doug: There are 2 facts about GovLoop that many people do not know. The first is that the average age of a GovLoop member is 43. Most people think that GovLoop is a site just for new government employees.
The second surprising fact is that we have a high concentration of government participants at our events and webinars. The breakdown is generally 80% government/20% industry which makers our sponsors very happy!
What's next for GovLoop?
Doug: Great question and it seems like the list grows every day. Our evolution to be the “Knowledge Network for Government” will continue to expand by creating additional resources, events and training as we respond to the needs of the government community. We are very fortunate to have our amazing members helping each other daily on GovLoop and identifying their knowledge needs so that we can assist them in making government more effective and innovative.
Thanks to Doug for the GovLoop update. If anyone has other questions, please feel free to reach out to him directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you're interested in reading more about social media for government, download our free blueprint here.
- Katie Hanusik
Over this past year SpeakerBox has made a real investment in inbound marketing, not just for our clients, but also for ourselves. So, excuse me for a moment while I get a little self-promotional and highlight some of the content we’ve worked on this year.
When developing our content program we wanted to touch as many areas of interest for our clients and potential clients as possible. Many members of the SpeakerBox team have contributed to these content items and I personally appreciate the time and effort that has gone into getting this program off the ground. We have been very successful in our first year and I’m looking forward to all of the content we’ll provide our readers in the future.
The links below will take you to the content that exists on our website and you can also find a full list that will continue to be updated in real time on the SpeakerBox resources page.
PR 101 For Startups
Leveraging PR for M&A and Capital Raises
Inbound Marketing: Getting Found with Creative Content
Analyst Relations 101: Influencing the Influencers
The Five biggest Flaws in your B2B Website
No More Hocus Pocus: A Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization
Acronyms, GSA Schedules and Agencies, Oh My! A Primer on B2G Public Relations
The Blueprint – Social Media and Government
Everything is on the Record: The Pre-Interview Checklist
If you logged on to GCN, FCW or Washington Technology this morning you no doubt noticed something new. All three websites, which are part of 1105 Government Information Group, look completely different than they did just last week. Apparently 1105 has been undergoing some changes and the new websites are the most visible change.
If you haven’t checked out the sites yet go ahead and take a quick peek, I’ll wait…
So, what do you think? Personally, I think there are positives and negatives about each site. I’ll start by saying that from what I can see, FCW (which has officially changed its name from Federal Computer Week to FCW) is the only one that has even addressed the changes with an Editor’s Note, which is right on the homepage welcoming people to the new FCW.
Overall I think that GCN and FCW hit the mark. The new design is more modern, cleaner and easier to read. The top navigation is easy to understand and the site is much more visual. I also really like the addition of what’s trending to the top navigation as well as the incredibly easy to find links to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Click on an article and you get a box on the right that lets you know what the most popular articles are. However, that said, FCW now only lists one editorial contact (Troy Schneider, Executive Editor) while GCN doesn’t list any – a kink that is hopefully still going to be worked out as there have been changes to the editorial staff at both publications.
Unfortunately, Washington Technology’s redesign wasn’t quite up to par with its sister publications. As Mark Amtower points out in this blog post, “I don't find the new design to be a user friendly experience compared to what was there before and I think this redesign will lead to less traffic and shorter visits to the site.” Not only does Washington Technology not tell you what the most popular articles are, they’ve buried what’s trending within the subpages.
Also, for those interested, the publications have rolled out new editorial calendars for the remainder of the year, which you can find links to below. It appears that along with new websites, the publications are doing what they can to stay relevant and provide readers the most current information.
It seems to me that FCW and GCN managed to keep their individual identities when redesigning their websites while also making it clear they are part of the same family. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Washington Technology.
So, what do you think? Like the new sites? Hate them? Sound off below!
GCN Q4 2012 editorial calendar
FCW Q4 2012 editorial calendar
Washington Technology 2013 editorial calendar
Ever wonder which Congressman has the most retweets? Which Federal agency has the most Facebook comments or how quickly the Presidential candidates are adding followers and fans? If so, then the leaderboard published by OhMyGov!, the social media monitoring and analysis firm, is for you.
The dynamic leaderboard ranks Congressmen, Senators, Federal Agencies, 2012 Presidential candidates, Governors and States. You can sort by one of 15 metrics covering every conceivable data point for Twitter, Facebook and news mentions. The timeframe is also completely customizable.
So go ahead and take a look. Just based on the sheer numbers, I think you’ll be impressed by how well many politicians and government agencies are using social media to engage constituents and share information.
- Katie Hanusik
P.S. If you're interested in B2G communications, be sure to download the new SpeakerBox Primer on B2G Public Relations.
For this edition of our Ask the Influencers
series, we caught up Francis Rose
, host of “In-Depth with Francis Rose,” which airs weekdays from 3-7 pm on Federal News Radio
. Francis has more than 25 years of bro
adcast experience with some of America's top broadcasting stations, including CSPAN Radio, ABC Radio, CBS Radio and Westwood One. Check out what he had to say about on-air interviews, his show on Federal News Radio and what he plans to focus on in 2013. What makes a good on-air interview?
Someone who has an interesting story to tell. Normally the most interesting stories people tell are about things they've seen rather than things they've done, but not always. I ask myself, “when this interview is over, will my listeners think they are smarter/better informed than when it started?” If not, I'm wasting my time.What are some tips/tricks for helping interviewees improve their interview quality?
Be ready to talk about something besides yourself. Most people understand the concept of adding value to an organization they work for. An interview is the same thing. The listener expects you to give them something - usually information - in exchange for the time commitment they make. Think ahead of time what that is, be honest with yourself about whether it's really valuable to someone else, then over-deliver.In terms of topics and trends, what are you most interested in covering for your show?
Anything that will make a federal executive smarter or better able to do his or her job. There's a lot of room in that statement, I know, but that's my mission.Have you spotted any trends in the federal tech space or do you have any predictions for 2013?
I can tell you what I expect to cover a lot more in 2013, and that's figuring out what agencies won't do any more because of budget. “More with less” is BS. Congress and the agencies have to come to some kind of agreement about what agencies are no longer expected to do. When we look back at 2013, how that debate went will be the key to where the government stands headed into 2014.What has been your most interesting interview while at Federal News Radio? In your career?
I'm not going to name one or a few at the expense of all the rest, but I think everyone comes to my studio intending to educate my listeners about whatever their area of expertise is, instead of promoting something, can't help but be interesting.
I had the pleasure this morning of attending a presentation by my CEO, Elizabeth Shea, to the Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum (SECAF) on how to engage the federal community via social media.
It seems that somewhere along the way people started believing that the government isn’t actually using social media. But with more than 3 million Twitter followers, it looks like someone forgot to tell the White House that government isn’t social. Turns out that NASA isn’t far behind with 2.8 million followers, and the Department of Homeland Security has more than 52,000 “likes” on Facebook.
In fact, according to Market Connections 2011 Social Media in the Public Sector Report, 70% of federal agencies and 93% of contractors are using LinkedIn while a whopping 86% of agencies and 88% of contractors are on Facebook.
These stats clearly speak to a point made by B.L. Ochman in BusinessWeek way back in 2009: “Millions of people are creating content for the social web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.”
So below are some of the key takeaways from Elizabeth’s presentation this morning and some tips for people just jumping into the social fray.
Listen to what is being said. At a minimum the expectation is that you are listening. There are a variety of social media listening posts that can help you learn what your customers want.
Create compelling content. As we’ve discussed many times on our blog, content is king. You either need to curate or create your stance, your value proposition, the reason your customers buy. Social media is reliant on content, and you need to plan a way to create content that is useful to your audience.
Engage with your audience. Social media tools enable you to engage with your audience in a meaningful way. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Determine which channels your customers use and meet them there.
Lastly, B2G communications has evolved. While there is still a core set of print publications we work with on a daily basis, there is also a “new” set of online sites that are just as influential. Online sites and networks to follow (or join) to keep up with what’s happening in the government space include: FedScoop, GovLoop, GovConWire, OhMyGov and NextGov.
I wrote recently about the quality vs. quantity conundrum on Twitter, and included some tips on how to get started. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to make the most of LinkedIn.
I was lucky enough to score a spot at FedScoop’s event yesterday morning at the Newseum but only lucky enough to be there for the very beginning.
The morning keynote address was given by Casey Coleman the CIO of the General Services Administration. She outlined GSA’s IT transformation describing how the agency has saved money and time through the use of new technology and an adaptive information sharing process.
As a whole, GSA needed to upgrade its technology. She said they were still using Word 2003! The main focus was on modernizing and centralizing technology. They started by analyzing their existing resources then decided what to upgrade, change and get rid of, resulting in the implementation and use of only fully active technologies that made sense for GSA’s goals. This process from analysis to implementation happened in a very short timeframe – only ten weeks!
Additionally, GSA moved to a cloud email solution through Google Apps. The IT transformation team did a good amount of backwork training and prepping the staff before deployment to mitigate problems before they could arise. And they designated certain tech-savvy employees as “power users” to help others get up to speed and create a sense of community during deployment.
Overall, they have seen that IT service desk calls are down. The time they spent training employees has paid off and now the service desk receives calls asking how to do new tasks rather than reporting a problem. One of the main ways that they mitigate problems is via Chatter, a SalesForce tool that allows users to communicate virtually and creates a log of conversations and answers so that service desk and power users aren’t being asked repetitive questions. Chatter has allowed them to create their own knowledge management system based on the technologies they actually use.
Casey said that GSA is really proud of the change management system they developed during this process and that they even rolled out a core competency based on it.
Ultimately Casey said that GSA’s technology refresh was not so much about which technology to use but about how to use technology to best get work done. Through the project they eased help desk concerns, streamlined communication and now use analytics to monitor top issues and provide proactive communication.
If you’re interested in hearing more, you can see Casey’s full presentation here.
Additionally, I got to stay to hear Gigi Schumm from (our client) Symantec talk on BYOD and how it can lower costs within agencies, if safely implemented. She’s recapping her portion on the Symantec Public Sector Blog and her entire presentation is available here.
Potential speakers and panelists are once again vying for a spot at SXSW 2013, scheduled for next March. Since 2007, SXSW has used a PanelPicker to democratize the conference program planning and encourage community participation. Public votes account for 30% of the weighted decision-making process.
Similar to last year, there is a track called “Government and Civic Engagement.” This year, 84 of the more than 3,000 proposed programs are in the government category and the options include some great speakers from both federal, state and local government.
Some of my favorites (with their descriptions from the SXSW PanelPicker site) include:
Technology in government isn't just about putting up a new .gov website, or creating a new platform - it can't be, because the public demands better services where they already are engaging, and they need these services now. This panel will get to the bottom of not just the future of citizen engagement, but the movement to deliver on the promise of open source, mobile citizen engagement right now by any means necessary.
- Mamta Patel Nagaraja PhD, NASA
- Justin Herman, GSA Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies' Center for Excellence in Digital Government
- Erie Meyer, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and Tech Lady Mafia
- Gray Brooks, GSA Digital Innovative Services Center
There are countless local government projects that are not completed due to lack of funding. These are projects like building new parks, renovating neighborhood pools and adding bike lanes - projects that governments want to take on and citizens want to invest in, but often can't. For decades, we have seen citizens host neighborhood barbecues to raise money to save a park or library - projects that can only happen through government and citizens partnering together. But what do these barbecues look like in the 21st century and what does it look like when vastly more projects have a chance of being funded? Crowdfunding platforms focused on funding local government projects are sprouting up in the U.S. and abroad, giving citizens a direct say in where government spends their money for the first time in history. This panel will discuss the successes and failures of these startups and will answer the tough questions facing these new business models.
- Jordan Raynor, Citizinvestor
- Story Bellows, City of Philadelphia
- Russell Wallace, CivicSponsor, Inc.
- Rodrigo Davies, Spacehive
You may not have realized it, but the U.S. Congress has recently been opening its doors for participation and data faster than at any time in the history of the body. From participatory projects on co-sponsoring and helping to write bills, to analyzing and visualizing correspondence and releasing that data to the public, the U.S. Congress is getting with the program. This panel will discuss how technology is enabling Congress to truly realize democracy in previously impossible ways.
- Matt Lira, Office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
- Dan Beckmann, IB5k
- Stephen Dwyer, House Minority Whip
- Sarah Lai Stirland, Tech President
Last year’s keynote presentation at SXSW focused on open data in cities. This year, we thought it would be interesting to see how this idea has evolved. Our panel is focused on trends in city and public sector data. We will discuss how technology and open data have helped improve lives and safety in cities, specifically at-risk regions.
- Marc Maleh, Wieden+Kennedy
- Husani Oakley, Wieden+Kennedy
- Anoush Tatevossian, UN
- Bob Richardson, City of NY
Voting is open until August 31st. Which programs are you voting for?
- Katie Hanusik
Obviously, we’ve seen more and more coverage recently around how people are consuming media and content in new (and increasingly mobile) ways. As Pete said last week, most online news rarely consists of straightforward stories centered around facts anymore. With the rise of blogs, we’ve begun to digest news online from sites that are geared towards our interests – it only makes sense that we follow blogs and writers who play to what we like, no matter how ‘researched’ their stories may be.
This “nichefying” of media outlets plays a very important role when it comes to elections and political coverage. This week Google put out an infographic (see larger here) that shows how people consume news relating directly to the election.
While we here at SBX aren’t in the business of political fundraising or posturing for one candidate over another, it is an important reminder that we should all be thinking of our markets like this and developing plans to get in front of people in the most influential or effective way.
Also, it’s really interesting to see that the “tried and true” method of political ads, running in prime time, isn’t necessarily so tried and true anymore. Folks are turning to the Internet and mobile devices instead to get their news.
Last election Obama reached voters in a way no presidential candidate had before – he connected with his supporters online and via text to create a very mobile grassroots following. I’m interested to see how this information guides outreach during this current campaign and what new tricks the candidates have up their sleeves.
- Ali Robinson