This post was originally published on Cisco’s government IT-focused blog.
Federal agencies have been working for several years to accelerate adoption of cloud solutions that improve user productivity and collaboration while also reducing costs. But CIOs today continue to struggle with regulatory compliance, cyberattack prevention, privacy of data, and other obstacles that can hamper and even prevent government IT modernization initiatives.
At CTERA, designing IT modernization solutions for federal and defense organizations is a key aspect of our business. We offer a secure and unified platform that allows organizations to meet key modernization initiatives for cloud-based user file storage, collaboration and access, and data protection/disaster recovery.
In our experience, the biggest customer concerns with government IT modernization or digital transformation are ensuring the security and availability of critically-sensitive data. And while our platform helps solve the security and performance challenges that typical cloud-based solutions cannot, there are other important lessons we’ve learned in dealing with many federal organizations during enterprise file services transformations.
Here are our key points to bear in mind while working with federal customers:
- Understand their current situation and help them understand the end goal. Before you sell your federal customer on any solution, ensure you fully understand the problems they’re trying to solve. There have been considerable intricacies to every customer win we’ve had in the government sector, and we needed to know about all of them. Then you will want to clearly articulate what a successful deployment will look like, along with the project requirements and milestones on how you’ll get there. Most importantly, get your customer excited about the outcome. While your solution may be old hat to you by now, a customer seeing it in action for the first time could be amazed. Get them invested in your joint success, and the path to a successful deployment will become that much smoother.
- Make it easy for the customer to modernize. Federal organizations have stringent requirements that add complexity to selling situations, so make it as easy on them (and you) as possible. In our case, and as with any vendor focused on data storage, transfer, or protection, proving data security and privacy in the solution is a key requirement to winning the business. To help make our case, we had our platform certified for FIPS 140-2, a federally-approved level of data encryption, which helped eliminate hurdles to winning the business (and separated us from our competition, which could not meet that certification level). As well, we’ve worked with the Department of Defense to develop network authentication methods that utilize military personnel’s common access cards (CAC). By removing as many obstacles to modernization as possible, we help our federal customers achieve their transformation goals.
- Help them leverage or seamlessly migrate from existing infrastructure where possible. When organizations have invested years of resources into legacy projects and technologies, it can be painful to pick up and move to new infrastructure for the sake of modernization. In some cases it can mean completely starting over. Some of the federal agencies we’ve worked with have had 10+ years of files, file system structures, user permissions, etc. stored on existing infrastructure. To have to throw that all away would have been a non-starter for them, and consequently, us. So while our platform enables the complete migration of all aspects of a file system to a modern solution, we also ensure services delivery personnel are on-site to make the migration process seamless.
- Earn their trust. This is the big one, but it’s tied into the points above. If you’re going to sell to federal and defense organizations, their trust in you, your team, and your organization is vital to your success. The most important step toward earning your customer’s trust is to function as a team member or a partner, and not as vendor. Be highly responsive and spend significant time on-site with the customer. Over-deliver on your promises and earn the relationship.
There you have it – no top secret material, but hopefully some helpful points to consider as you work with the government organizations in your purview. Happy selling!