Nick Wakeman

Editor's Note

Now is the time to distinguish yourself

There are certain jobs on the farm that my dad likes to call “separators” because they separate the men from the boys.

Packing hay to the rafters of the barn in July is one of those jobs. The heat will drench you with sweat, and the hay dust will choke your lungs. Putting in fence posts with a digging iron and shovel in August is another one. The sun will broil the back of your neck, and even with the best gloves, you’ll go home with blisters. And don’t forget how much your arms and back will ache.

The current economic downturn is a separator for government contractors.

As our cover story on the top state and local systems integrators describes, your customers are in trouble. Budget shortfalls are epidemic, and state agencies are desperate for help.

Systems integrators told Deputy Editor William Welsh that they see opportunities to help those agencies streamline their operations and save money by becoming more efficient. This is the chance to apply new ideas about how to make government processes work better, cheaper and faster.

But there are risks, too. The first is the danger of overpromising and underdelivering. Companies need to be realistic about what they can do.

The second risk is greed. The last thing the government needs is companies that rush to market because they see desperate customers.

These companies are a small minority, but they can do great damage in their quest for a short-term reward.

The companies that separate themselves during a crisis are the ones that deliver value. When the economy comes back, these companies will stand apart because they did what they promised.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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