More trends to watch

A rundown of 10 companies cannot provide a complete picture of federal information technology trends. However, an informal polling of integrators, resellers and distributors points to emerging opportunities in a wide range of products — some of which may show up on next year's list.

In software, customer relationship management (CRM) is among the technologies on the radar screen. "We are seeing a lot of demand for CRM solutions in this marketplace," said Steve Petchon, partner of the Federal Client Group, Accenture Government Operating Group.

Just as they have done with other enterprise resource planning software, federal agencies are starting with commercial packages rather than building their own applications, according to federal market watchers.

Petchon views CRM as a four-way race among Microsoft Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., Siebel Systems Inc. and SAP AG.

Business intelligence is another software category that's gaining ground in the federal market, according to Pechon. Companies in that area include Teradata, Business Objects, MetaMatrix and Microstrategy, Inc. Clients are using such business intelligence products for data warehouses and data marts, he said.

Products that enable the blending of voice and data are another area of interest. "We are seeing tremendous opportunities in convergence," said Laurie Usewicz, vice president of product management at Westcon Group North America Inc., a networking products distributor. She said the government pipeline for converged, voice-over-IP solutions is growing, citing Avaya Inc. as one vendor gaining momentum.

"There are a lot more proposals and a lot more sales around secure voice/data networks," added Eva Fujan, vice president of sales and operations for Voda One, a Westcon division. The return on investment from a shared bandwidth solution is attracting customers, she said.

In the peripheral side, Advanced Technology Attachment storage devices are showing strongly in the federal sector, according to Anne Brennan, manager of D&H Distributing Co. Inc.'s government division. She cited Promise Technology Inc. as an ATA vendor gaining ground in the federal arena.

Large LCD displays are also in demand, Brennan said, noting NEC-Mitsubishi's 40-inch model that began shipping earlier this year. She said because some organizations using plasma technology have had problems with burn-in, they are looking to LCD. In addition to the 40-inch displays, standard 17-inch LCD displays are also selling well, she said.

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