Fed IT market attracts many vendors ? too many

ORLANDO, Fla. ? It's no secret that the government IT market is growing faster than others. One result is that systems integrators are deluged with product vendors wanting a piece of that market.

GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Va., was approached some 800 times in the past year, according to Chief Executive Officer Dendy Young. Don Brown, vice president of strategic initiatives at Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., said he gets four phone calls a day from technology vendors. James White, president of the Greenbelt, Md.-based computing systems unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. of Los Angeles, claimed 15 such calls every week.

All spoke on a panel at the government solutions conference hosted by Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn. Washington Technology editor Steve LeSueur moderated the panel.

Panelists said the best way for a product vendor to break into the market with an integrator is to understand what opportunities that integrator might be pursuing, and have a clear story about how its product might be useful.

"I respond to people who do their homework," White said.

Michael Fox, vice president of sales and marketing at SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., said: "What gets my attention is vendors who ask, 'Are you going after a particular opportunity?' I'll schedule that appointment within 48 hours."

Fox said integrators prefer vendors to give them exclusivity when joining a bid team as a sub.

"Integrators prefer exclusivity to give them an advantage," he said. Fox cited one Library of Congress project in which several competitors all bid with software from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. But SRA alone bid with Siebel Systems as a sub, and won the contract.

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