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Falling back in love with business development #LoveBDAgain

Last week’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention brought more than 18,000 attendees from around the globe to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The three-day event featured more than 300 educational sessions/workshops and a massive expo with nearly 800 exhibitors.

As in years past, Deltek’s presence was in full force at this premier architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) event. In addition to showcasing Deltek solutions on the expo floor,  Senior Product Marketing Specialist Megan Miller led a seminar titled “Fall in Love with Business Development Again” to a packed crowd on Thursday afternoon.

 

Alongside Wallace Engineering’s Brad Thurman, PE, FSMPS, CPSM, Miller covered the common pain points identified by business developers and presented tips on how to reengage the industry and win more business.

 

A 2014 study by the Society for Marketing Professional Services Society (SMPS) – “The Seller-Doer Model: Is it Really Taking Hold – and Is It Working?” – revealed that 63 percent of firms surveyed reported an increase in the number of seller-doers in their company, where employees are not only responsible for business development (BD), but also sales, technical, marketing and client support. However, only 4 percent of companies considered their seller-doers as “highly effective.”

 

A major obstacle with this growing seller-doer model is the lack of time devoted to business development when having to wear multiple hats. Miller stressed that “business development is the lifeblood of your organization,” and Thurman reminded attendees that BD is not about sales, but about “nurturing relationships.”  

 

Many attendees reported they simply don’t have enough hours in the day to dedicate to BD, and they often find themselves doing tasks they don’t enjoy, such as cold calling, expense reports, and attending meetings. Thurman and Miller provided several practical tips for spending more time on the tasks you love and blocking time for business development.

 

Miller also touted the importance of being more selective in business development. Statistics show it takes 100 cold calls to get one lead; therefore, companies should narrow their prospect lists and truly nurture that network. Taking the time to learn about a potential client and their needs before approaching them goes a long way in distinguishing your organization from the rest. 

GovWin IQ offers several solutions to help business developers learn about potential clients and narrow their prospect list in the public sector. GovWin IQ’s Government Snapshots tool combines government data with Deltek’s expert analysis and forecasting tools to provide vendors with key information on spending, population, agency contacts, employment, bids, and more so that they can make informed business decisions in their target markets.

 

GovWin IQ Lead Alerts act as the first hint of a project for business developers. Our analysts are scouring government websites and reviewing state and local capital improvement plans (CIP) on a daily basis to identify new projects across all vertical markets and provide updates on past CIP initiatives. Lead Alerts help you identify projects planned years in advance so you can start building relationships with prospects early.

 

Further, GovWin IQ’s newly expanded contract awards database offers business developers deep insight into current contracts across the state and local market, expiring agreements that may be rebid, as well as bid tabulations/bidders lists offering strong competitive intelligence.

 

Learn more about GovWin IQ solutions with a free trial

 

Public-private partnerships may yield high-dollar contracts

Public-private partnerships, or P3s, have been around for decades, helping states with funding problems utilize a contract with a private company that, in turn, will run a large portion (or all) of a project. The number of states that use P3s has grown steadily over the years, with approximately 33 states and the District of Columbia having legislation to allow usage.

One of the major components of P3 legislation is the use of partnerships in development of transportation infrastructure such as bridges, roads, tunnels, etc. A state may not have the funding to develop a new bridge, but through a P3 agreement, the vendor foots most of the cost and collects tolls from the bridge in exchange. One major project that utilized this agreement was the Port of Miami tunnel. The $663 million project needed outside funding – in this case, from Bouygues Civil Works. Later, the state utilized another vendor, Transfield Services Infrastructure, to operate and maintain the tunnel.

Below is a glimpse of GovWin IQ’s snapshot of Miami-Dade County’s construction expenditures for fiscal year 2014. The chart shows that air transportation and transit-related projects top the list at more than $600 million.

Many high-dollar projects are available when looking at the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry as it relates to P3 transportation initiatives; however, with only 33 states having legislation and varying requirements, it becomes a difficult maze to navigate. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a toolkit for legislators, which also provides insight on state laws and the differences among them.

P3 agreements are not solely tied to transportation projects. Prison facilities, primary and higher education facilities also require significant budget, especially for new construction or upgrades to existing infrastructure. AEC vendors will have many projects to bid on outside of P3 agreements, but these partnerships often allow more flexibility and opportunity to team with vendors as prime or subcontractors.

AEC vendors should not necessarily seek out P3 agreements, but being aware of their availability and what benefits they offer is essential in understanding the market. P3 projects can offer flexibility and options that aren’t typically available with a standard professional services contract. They can be larger in scope, size and contract value, and are worthy of special attention and consideration when examining your bottom line.

GovWin IQ’s government snapshot tool combines government data with Deltek’s expert analysis and forecasting tools. Our government snapshots provide vendors with key information on spending, population, agency contacts, employment, bids, and more so that they can make informed business decisions in their target markets. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial. 

 

 

 

 

State and Local Regional Top Opportunities for FY 2014

Deltek’s recently published State and Local Regional Top Opportunities for FY 2014 Report shines light on state and local contracting from a regional standpoint, spanning all verticals (health care, social services, justice and public safety, homeland security, transportation and general government). Using the GovWinIQ opportunities database, the free report analyzes the quantity and value of projects in each region across all vertical areas, and also takes a closer look at how the verticals are represented in each of the four regions. The top opportunities highlighted in the report were selected for their representation of major technologies within the six vertical areas and their illustration of state and local contracting as a whole. 

GovWinIQ Active Opportunities and Leads

Key takeaways from our regional analysis of state and local contracting opportunities include:

  • The South has the highest number of projects per region (662) as well as the highest total value of projects per region ($15.2 billion), mainly due to the inclusion of Texas, Virginia and Florida. Southern states, especially Florida, often utilize regional projects and initiatives and later implement them statewide.
  • The Midwest has the highest average value per project ($23.3 million), but the lowest number of total projects (423). Midwest states are innovators for cooperative contracts (WSCA) and many generic term contracts.
  • The Northeast has an interim number of projects (514) as well as interim average value per project ($22.2 million). Northeast states are often early adopters and innovators for federally mandated initiatives.

From a vertical and regional standpoint, key takeaways include:

Justice and Public Safety (JPS) and Homeland Security (HS) Verticals

  • The Northeast has the highest concentration of JPS contracting opportunities
  • In the Midwest, most JPS initiatives occur at the local level (Ohio, Ill., Wis.)
  • FirstNet will be a huge driver for state broadband initiatives nationwide

Health Care (HC) and Social Services (SS) Verticals

  • Eighty-three percent of active HC/SS opportunities are for statewide systems
  • Consortiums are increasingly popular nationwide for social services IT systems, including WIC MIS, SNAP/TANF EBT, and UI systems
  • Most local-level HC/SS opportunities are for electronic health/medical records or vital records

General Government (GenGov) Vertical

  • The South has the most active opportunities in the GenGov vertical (35.4 percent), followed by the West (24.6 percent), Northeast (21.6 percent), and Midwest (18.3 percent)
  • Data center consolidation/modernization, disaster recovery services, server virtualization, and cloud services are expected to be popular technologies/services procured over the next few years
  • California, Illinois and Texas have the most active GenGov opportunities, while active GenGov opportunities out of Pennsylvania, Virginia and California have the highest total value

Deltek is hosting a free webinar on the State and Local Regional Top Opportunities for FY 2014 Report on November 7, 2013, at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar will delve into all three state and local verticals, providing insight into some specific projects and overall trends for fiscal year 2014. To register for the webinar, please click here!

 

 

The business of business development in leaner times

As talking heads debate how the sequester will affect the economy, companies around the beltway are working to determine how it might damage their bottom line. Will they be directly affected? Will the “trickle down” eventually bite them? It’s very likely that many cannot afford the risk or choose not to take it, so they are looking to cushion any potential blow.
 
When budgets are tight it is easy to consider Business Development as overhead that should be eliminated; but just like the “trickle down” will eventually bite you, so will reduction of your Business Development resources. Though it may help with short term revenue projections, long-term growth and stability cannot be sacrificed for instant gratification. A thorough understanding of the market, especially when agencies are working tirelessly to rebalance their smaller budgets, is critical in order to get ahead of opportunities and align your internal resources.
 
Understanding how agencies and their budgets will be affected by the cost cutting and how they plan to absorb these cuts will not only put you ahead of the curve in terms of preparing for upcoming opportunities, but it will also inform you about what has been moved to the backburner. Resources saved are resources earned. For example, as it stands currently, the Navy’s operations and maintenance accounts will be reduced by more than $4B, its IT expenditures will be cut by 25% and at least a half dozen “new start” multi-year procurement projects will be deferred. Anticipating and knowing about these delays will prevent you from wasting business development valuable resources where they are not needed.
 
GovWin Consulting specializes in understanding each agency’s priorities and can work with your company to help uncover where that department or agency plans to shift its focus and funding.  With less budget to go around it is critical to develop an action plan in order to best position your company’s products or solutions. Communicating the values and messages that resonate with your intended audience and understanding their current financial hardships, can be the difference in winning new business. Our team delivers in-depth strategic targeting department and agency solutions tailored to your company’s business priorities and sales goals. For more information concerning GovWin Consulting’s capabilities please visit our website.

Surviving Sequestration: Over $116 Billion in Contracting Opportunities on the Horizon

Despite the emphasis the tighter budgets agencies face under sequestration, major contract opportunities are continuing to move forward. The sum total for 28 upcoming contracts is $116.142 billion. Of course, small businesses won’t be left out in the cold. Of that total, close to some $17 billion will for be small businesses awards.

Contract Status Key

?

Moving Forward

?

On Hold

X

Cancelled

?

Contracting Office Not Commenting

*

Small Business Opportunity

Note: GovWin IQ login is required to view the reports at the Opportunity ID hyperlinks below. 

Agency

Program/Account

Value

Opportunity ID

Status

Air Force

Training System Acquisition Program (TSA III)

$20.9 B

37291

?

 Air Force

* Engineering Professional Administrative Support Services (EPASS)

$5.0 B

93515

?

Air Force

*Network-Centric Solutions (NETCENTS II A&AS)

$710 M

48254

?

Air Force

* Technical Data Support Services (TDSS(e))

$467 M

78427

?

Air Force

*Follow On Third Party Logistics Services for Support Equipment Commodity Council (3PL SECC)

$288 M

92288

?

Army

Train Educate and Coach (TEACH)

$8.0 B

69254

?

Army

Space and Missile Defense Technology Design Development Demonstration and Integration (D3I)

$4.9 B

54159

?

Army

Strategic Service Solutions (S3)

$4.0 B

86280

?

Army

Utility Monitoring and Control Systems for Heating Venting and Air Conditioning

(UMCS IV) (HVAC)

$2.5 B

80441

?

Army

Technical Information Engineering Services (TIES)

$995 M

69356

?

Army

Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC III)

$1.5 B

78525

?

Army

*Information Management Communications Services (IMCS 3)

$500 M

72006

?

Commerce

* Patent Office Support Services (PTOSS IV)

$252 M

32547

?

Education

Common Services for Borrowers (CSB)

$2.3 B

33550

X

GSA

One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS)

$12.0 B

90928

?

HHS

Health Marketing Communications Services (HMCS)

$870 M

67831

?

HHS

Chief Information Officer Commodity Solutions

(CIO-CS)

$10.0 B

47886

?

NASA

Solutions for Enterprisewide Procurement (SEWP V)

$20.0 B

82396

?

NASA

Center Maintenance Operations and Engineering (CMOE)

$971 M

53636

?

NASA

* Marshall Engineering Technicians and Trade Support Services (METTS)

$151 M

53603

?

State

Passport Support Services (PSP)

$570 M

64443

?

State

 * Hybrid Information Technology Services for State (HITSS II)

$2.1 B

49544

?

USAID

Encouraging Global Anticorruption and Good Governance Efforts (ENGAGE)

$750 M

83090

?

Defense

Global Network Services (GNS)

---

86970

?

Defense

Defense Systems Technical Area Tasks (DS) (TATs)

$3.0 B

48780

?

Defense

Homeland Defense and Security Technical Area Tasks (HD TATs)

$900 M

48776

?

Defense

* Special Operational Equipment Tailored Vendor Logistics Support Program

$5.7 B

70506

?

DHS

BiowatchGen 3

$3.1 B

68486

?

Navy

Rapid Response Irregular Warfare (RR/IW)

$5.0 B

67883

?

Navy

Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services Full Deployment Production Units (CANES)

$1.0 B

50287

?

Source: Deltek

Many of Deltek’s opportunity analysts have reported that contracting offices have been unable to comment on the precise impact of sequestration their programs. Contractors will want to monitor changes in requirements and scheduling as the precise impact of sequestration becomes clearer.

In some cases, agency officials indicated that sequestration is not expected to have an immediate impact on their contract. Future delays in funding, however, could be a possibility. Certainly, agencies are prioritizing programs, complying with mandates and, in some cases, restructuring their efforts. Program cancellations, however, seem to be in the minority.

Contractors Indicate that Relationships are Their Top Source for New Opportunities

Sources of opportunity identification and assembly of staff resources around opportunities play a critical role in the federal pipeline process. Federal services contractors must develop a system for generating a continuous stream of contracting opportunities to fill their pipeline in order to be successful. Likewise, they need a well honed process for assembling an internal team to vet and potentially bid on these opportunities.
As we continue to look at federal pipeline management processes as a way for contractors to develop a competitive advantage, one extremely important element of the process is opportunity identification. Deltek’s recent research into the opportunity and pipeline processes of federal contractors sheds light on the major opportunity sources used by contractors to fill their pipeline.  The chart below shows the top sources for new opportunities by Deltek’s 244 survey respondents:
 
Large and mid-sized contractors rely heavily on the relationships developed by both business development and project staff to identify new opportunities. This is augmented by third party research. However, small contractors rely more heavily on teaming relationships to identify new opportunities, than do large or mid-sized contractors. This could indicate that their relationships with fellow contractors and teaming partners are stronger than their customer relationships due to their small size and limited time in the marketplace. Large and mid-sized contractors, due to their size and longevity in the market, typically have more people interacting with government clients and have deeper client relationships.
 
Assembling an experienced and well-trained internal team to pursue business is also a critical factor to increasing win rates. 
The chart below shows the average mix of resources used to go after new business in the federal contracting companies that Deltek surveyed: 
 
For the most part, all contractors showed an equal likeliness to outsource market research and proposal writing, while business development is the area most likely to have dedicated resources. The majority of contractors realize how important the business development function is to gaining new business and a constant stream of revenue, and are consequently more likely to maintain those resources in-house and dedicating them to the function of generating business. 
 
Opportunity identification and assembly of staff resources are just two pieces of the pipeline management effort, but contribute to an overall solid process. As federal budgets contract and contracting opportunities become smaller in size, business development and pipeline processes need to adapt to provide a constant new stream of business and revenue.
 
About Deltek’s Survey:
In July 2012, Deltek conducted a web survey of 244 of business unit heads, CEOs, COOs, business development leaders, capture managers and proposal managers from 138 companies that provide information technology or professional services to the federal government, with annual revenues of $25 million or more. 
 
 

 

 

Government 2.0: Market Trends - IT procurement transformation (Part 1)

Over the years, the emergence of Gov 2.0 has been theorized by IT bureaucrats, vendors, and techies alike. While Web and mobile-based technology has impacted our everyday lives as consumers, it has been slow to take on our lives as constituents, taxpayers and citizens. Instead, government has been using private sector-focused apps and solutions such as Twitter and YouTube for public sector needs.

Even as larger vendors expand their scope of products and services to try and meet Gov 2.0 needs, government entities are hesitant to procure these big-dollar solutions. State and Local governments lack assurance due in large part to limited funds, governance, and market knowledge. So, while big vendors have been cutting back on state and local government business, smaller Gov 2.0 start-ups have been steadily luring in business by offering services and solutions for low or no upfront cost by using a modular plug-and-play format. These affordable and easy-to-implement Web applications are a stark change from enterprise solutions and services offered by the standard IT systems integrator. Now that Gov 2.0 is growing in popularity, the next question centers on how it will change the state and local IT market and procurement process.

Soon after civic-minded programmers formed Gov 2.0 start-ups, it was clear that their business model was adversely fit for the traditional IT procurement process. The Gov 2.0 market has rapidly become a grassroots movement disproportionately occupied by tech savvy community advocates, who have bucked the rules of procurement by offering their products and services at a fraction of what conventional government contracts would cost to implement.

The fact is that government IT spending is on the rise. On a whole, an estimated $140 billion a year is spent on IT needs, and that amount is expected to increase to $174 billion by 2014. State and local governments, which are running out of creative ways to cut their budget, are all too willing to look at low-cost alternatives to replace antiquated systems and satisfy their growing IT needs.

Two prominent examples of Gov 2.0 firms include Granicus, Inc., which provides cloud-based transparency solutions, and SeeClickFix, which uses mobile and Web-based technology as a management tool for government 311 systems. Both firms start their pricing for services at a mere $300 a month. Lesser known Gov 2.0 firms are willing to circumvent the procurement process altogether by offering their products or services at no cost, with the hopes of building a relationship for a potential sale down the road. Still, there are some philanthropic programmers who give away their apps in exchange for bragging rights.

Though many Gov 2.0 apps are based on citizen interaction, apps are not limited to 311-type services. Many innovative programmers have created standalone records management, content management, human resource management, and even data integration apps using open data specifically for internal government use. As this subset of government IT continues to evolve, these Gov 2.0 firms will gain technical growth and market knowledge, and those standalone apps could easily integrate into more robust mainstream applications before Gov 3.0 rolls around.

Analyst’s Take

The main take away is that the presence of these grassroots-minded IT firms is growing. They are being led by skillful, agile, humanitarian-minded innovators who are looking to improve government by sharing pioneering solutions. They lure IT decision-makers by offering beta or free versions upfront, which creates a warm environment to foster a full procurement later on.

If this emerging procurement format proves to be advantageous for state and local governments, it could become the new standard. So, how does a traditional IT firm compete with free IT solutions from these emerging Gov 2.0 firms? The answer is simple: adapt. By blending Gov 2.0’s creative purchasing options such as free trials offers, tiered service subscriptions, and modular solutions, alongside years of experience and quality services and products, a traditional IT firm is easily given the advantage.

Part 2 of this blog series will take a look at how state and local governments have adopted Gov 2.0 by bypassing their own IT procurement processes. In the meantime, be sure to follow Deltek's General Government Team on Twitter @GovWin_GenGov

Lastly, check out this article in Deltek State and Local Analyst Perspective.

 

Celebrating National Purchasing Month: big, Texas-style transparency

The state of Texas is known for doing things big, and with the third largest state budget in the country, the Lone Star State tends to spend big as well. In 2011, the state spent $94 billion in total expenditures, with approximately $660 million spent on IT-related goods and services alone. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) informally announced upcoming contracts with both Capgemini (opportunity A) and Xerox Corp (opportunity B) that would replace the troubled IBM (opportunity C) contract. The new multi-year contracts for data center management and operations services are worth $127 million and $1.1 billion, respectively. So, who is tracking all this money, where is it going, and how exactly is it being used?

Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs is responsible for capturing how all public funds are collected and used. When Combs took office in 2007, she wanted to make transparency a priority. She understood that on the heels of an economic crisis, prompted by shady transactions and closed-door deals, the call for transparency in government had become a hot topic. Later that year, Combs began posting state agencies’ expenditures online, which provided details – down to the purchase of each pencil – on how the state spent public money. Today, her office tracks half-a-billion dollars a day, and the transparency website is updated with the latest numbers every evening. It’s no wonder that the Texas Transparency Web portal was recently ranked No. 1 for government spending transparency by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).
 
The open data made accessible on the website not only lists expenditure by year and agency, but also lists links to all state contracts including DIR statewide co-op contracts. This website can be an invaluable tool for vendors interested in doing business with the state. They can learn which agencies use which contracts, and how much they spend using those contracts. In addition, the state’s transparency website provides contract information such as incumbent pricing and detailed scopes of work.
 
For example, the Texas transparency website details that in 2011, the Health and Human Services Commission spent $22 million on computer hardware and software, $135 million on data processing and programming services, $10 million on IT equipment repair/maintenance, and $3 million on telecommunications equipment and software. The website also reveals that 79 percent of the nearly $170 million public dollars spent for the commission’s IT-related needs went to just four vendors: Northrop Grumman Systems, Deloitte Consulting LLP, AT&T, and IBM Corp (see Figure 1). This in-depth financial transparency can help vendors build their business pipeline and get a leg up on winning future contracts.

 
Figure 1: Allocation of 2011 IT Expenditure in Texas among the top seven grossing vendors from the eight largest state agencies

 As always, follow us on Twitter @GovWin_GenGov

 

 

 

Moving along the road to recovery: A glance at Pennsylvania’s FY 2013 budget

With a focus on turning the “road to recovery into the path to prosperity,” Pennsylvania Governor Tim Corbett introduced his proposed FY 2013 budget on February 7. Continuing efforts to decrease spending, this year’s budget cuts $20 million in general funding compared to FY 2012.
 
Core objectives of this year’s budget include streamlining government administration and operations; job creation; supporting human services; and enhancing education. These goals will be accomplished through the consolidation of departments; the rollout of Jobs First PA, a four-program initiative to improve the state’s employee market; enhanced program integrity efforts for welfare programs; and implementing performance measurement tools for all parties involved in providing basic education (preK-12).
 
Spending increases can be seen in the basic education, higher education, justice/public safety and public finance verticals, ranging from 0.30 percent to 37.52 percent. Health care, social services, transportation, economic development/regulation, natural resources/environment, general government and homeland security verticals will experience decreases ranging from 0.11 percent to nearly 7 percent. More drastic changes can be seen in information technology spending, in which every vertical will see a decrease in spending, ranging from less than 1 percent in homeland security to almost 71 percent in health care.
 
Analyst’s Take
 
With IT spending on the decline for FY 2013, it should not come as a surprise that there was little mention of large-scale IT projects in the budget. Instead, IT spending will go toward smaller-scale projects and making enhancements to existing systems. Vendors with efficiency-focused and cost-saving solutions will be well received by state program and procurement officials, particularly if these solutions can improve existing systems instead of replacing them.
 
That said, with the implementation of block grants for much of the funding for the Departments of Education and Public Welfare, IT spending may increase at the local level while it declines at the state level. Vendors should be prepared for increased collaboration with city- and county-level officials who may take the lead in implementing IT projects and procuring IT vendors.
 
The state has reauthorized capitals bonds for FY 2013, which contributes to the nearly 38 percent increase in spending for the public finance vertical. It is estimated that FY 2013 new project authorizations will amount to a total of about $1.2 billion, with higher-dollar projects planned for the urban mass transportation, higher education, and environmental protection and management program areas. The reauthorization of these bonds bodes well for the state’s economic health now and in the future.
 
From the FY 2013 budget, it appears that the commonwealth is making progress on the economic road to recovery. If the state is able to continue its commitment to creating jobs, reforming education and public welfare programs, and streamlining government operations, the economy and citizens will surely prosper.
 
GovWin subscribers have access to expanded analysis of Pennsylvania’s FY 2013 Executive Budget, including detailed budget data, available here.

Recapping the Florida Educational Technology Conference: social media tools vs. educational Web 2.0

Tom DiScipio, founder of the educational social media tool, ePals, gave an in-depth presentation on the ups and downs of social networking tools vs. Web 2.0 education platforms at the 32 Annual Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) held in late January. He launched the session with hard-hitting statistics on privacy laws, or the lack thereof. According to a recent study of Columbia University students, 94 percent of those surveyed said they were sharing personal information on Facebook that they did not intend to make public. DiScipio also noted that 20 million minors are currently on Facebook, with 7.5 million users under age 13, and five million under 10 years old. He said the top reasons most teachers utilize popular social networking tools such as Facebook or Twitter in the classroom is because they are most familiar with them and are not aware of other options.
 
Safety and privacy issues with social media tools are a major concern in the education arena. DiScipio offered a hefty rundown of cons with mass market social media, including:
  • Safety and policy management
  • Role-based permissions at customized and administrator levels
  • Not always “on task”
  • Students under age 13 (age of consent)
  • Archiving/storage
  • Privacy – personal info tracking/advertising
  • School/district employment
  • Not curricular in functionality
  • Requires more time for collaborative tasks
  • Requires outside third party applications be used to complete tasks
  • Does not integrate other K-12 third party apps  
Not totally aimed at tooting ePals’ horn, DiScipio noted several Web 2.0 educational organizations that successfully provide K-12 social networking, including Schoology, Edmodo, eChalk, and Gaggle. Of course, ePals was the main focus. It is currently “the Internet’s largest and fastest-growing K-12 social learning network,” reaching more than 25 million teachers and students around the globe.
 
Epals’ many solutions bundle into a solid model for other vendors to reference and build on when customizing and marketing their product. DiScipio stressed the importance of global interaction. With ePals’ Global Community feature, students and teachers can communicate and work on projects with other classes worldwide. Further key ePals features include secure email with language translation capability, virtual workspaces with digital storage, and curriculum-based services to improve reading, writing and critical thinking skills through a matching of students with mentors and applicable learning material.
 
DiScipio said that when employing a school-based social media platform, districts reported students are less prone to inappropriate behavior. Epals is designed for safety, with strict policy management, assigned roles and permissions, and teacher supervision.
 
Only the tip of the social-media iceberg has been touched in this day of virtual communication and Web 2.0’s reign. Social networking platforms geared toward specific industries such as education (ePals), working professionals (LinkedIn, Yammer), or government (GovLoop) will continue to expand across international markets. Solutions that offer a bevy of networking capability, strong security and multiple resources in one package are most likely to appeal to organizations seeking the most effective product to help their users thrive.
 
For a complete recap of FETC including sessions on virtualization, green computing, high-density Wi-Fi challenges, and tablet technology in the classroom, please go here. Also, follow me on Twitter @GovWinKRidley for the latest state and local buzz.

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