19 years and counting
Sometime in the last week or so, I hit a milestone. I can’t remember the exact date of my start, but sometime in mid-November, I finished my 19th year at Washington Technology.
The number boggles my mind in many ways. Before coming to work here, I had never reached a three-year anniversary. I had had six jobs over about a 12 year period. Coming to work at WT was job number 7.
When I think about covering government contractors and the IT industry for that long, I mostly feel like I’m still a rookie.
I mean, I know I have some expertise that helps me connect the dots and hopefully ask the right questions. But hardly a week goes by that I don’t run into something that I don’t know or never heard of.
To me this means two things: the market is vast, and there is constant change.
There is no "one size fits all" in the government market. At the immixGroup Government IT Sales Strategy event this week, a presenter put up a slide that described 12 different routes to market. Twelve. That’s amazing. I had no idea.
Just the IT portion of the market is measured at about $80 billion, and that doesn’t count all of the embedded IT in systems and equipment throughout the government. Think about all the code it takes to fly an F-35.
IT has moved well beyond the early days of office automation. It is everywhere and in everything, to the point we don’t even think of it as IT anymore.
For a lot of reasons, the market also is in a period of fundamental change. Whether it is the cloud, mobility, big data or cybersecurity, technology and how it is delivered is evolving rapidly. At the same time, change is being driven by budget constraints and new management initiatives focused on efficiency and cost savings.
How companies go to market and the business model that makes them a viable enterprise is changing.
All of this gives me plenty of fresh material for articles and commentary.
So, after 19 years, I’m in no way bored.
The other change I’ve experienced has been in my own industry, the news business.
When I started at Washington Technology, we were print-centric. Our website existed, but it was a static site that only changed when we posted the latest print issue every couple of weeks. I wrote the first breaking story that was published to the website – Computer Science Corp. won the IRS PRIME contract in 1998.
By 2001, we were publishing daily stories on the web, but we were still driven by print. We also wanted to hold our best stuff for print. Over the next decade that changed drastically. You wanted your best on the web right away so you could beat your competitors. In 2012, we dropped print and focused exclusively on the web.
The competitive landscape changed quickly as well, and now we have more competitors than ever before. So there is no danger that I’ll get complacent, because I want to beat them all, even if they are my friends.
One thing that hasn’t changed is how much I enjoy this market. The people and companies believe in the mission of government and the importance of IT to our national security and our economy.
Of course, there are bad actors who exploit the system and want to squeeze as many dollars out of it as they can. But by and large, most of the people I meet in the market want the government to succeed. They know that they can succeed only if their customer succeeds.
I’ve been lucky from the start here at Washington Technology to have met great people and to have the privilege of writing about them and their companies and how they are serving our country.
As I plunge into my 20th year, I have to say, I feel like it is still my first. There is plenty to learn, plenty I don’t know, and plenty to do.
So, with the holiday season fast approaching, I sincerely say I feel lucky and thankful that I’ve done this job for as long as I have, and hopefully you’ll keep putting up with me.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 23, 2015 at 8:11 AM