Giant steps toward e-government
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Dec 03, 2000
As state and municipal governments restructure technologically to save money,
improve efficiency and deliver better services, two technology giants recently
formed dedicated units to tap this lucrative market.
Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, established a
dedicated state and local team last spring, while Hewlett-Packard Co., the
world's second-largest computer-maker, created a similar sales unit a year
ago, which is just coming up to full speed. The firms are part of an expanding
commercial interest in the government sector.
Representatives from both companies said the state and local market
has grown to a point where focused attention is necessary to address the
market's unique needs and increased use of electronic government applications.
"I think there's a huge amount of money out there," said Bob Gumport,
the head of HP's unit. "In the past, we've treated the state and local market
very opportunistically. Now, we have dedicated people to that market instead
of as part of other business units." HP's most successful programs, he said,
are focused on a particular market, allowing the company to be more attentive
State and local government accounts at Microsoft were divided among
18 nationwide sales districts, said Frank Giebutowski, who leads Microsoft's
unit. Over the past two years, resources to the state and local market increased
by 300 percent, but that happened because of independent decisions by the
districts' general managers.
"What the aggregation of Microsoft's state and local government assets
brings to the customer is that we are easier to do business with because
the salesperson, the pre-sales consultant, the consultant, the managers,
the support team, and the licensing resources all live and breathe government
every day," Giebutowski said. "Government is the team's only focus."
Both Giebutowski and Gumport said governments operate differently from
commercial clients because of legal constraints, budgeting processes and
procurement rules. Both companies structured their state and local teams
in a similar fashion.
Microsoft has teams of seven to 11 people in four geographic regions,
while HP has three geographic regions with eight to 10 people. Both companies
increased technical expertise and other support services for the state and
local sector and both companies developed partnerships with other companies
as a way to penetrate the market.
Gumport said a network of partner-ships helps with delivering end-to-end
solutions quickly and effectively. For example, he said HP is partnering
with a Utah company called Kiva that creates automated permit and inspection
systems. It is also working with Ariba Inc., BroadVision Inc., TekInsight.com
Inc., Unisys Corp. and a host of other companies.
A partner model also drives Microsoft, said Giebutowski, citing deals
with Andersen Consulting, Compaq Computer Corp., KPMG International, Carta
Inc., Link2Gov Corp., Netgov.com Inc. and American Management Systems Inc.
Giebutowski said Microsoft's advantage over competitors is the speed and
cost of delivering and implementing services.
"It's because Microsoft provides an open, flexible architecture that
is relatively easy to deploy and is cost- effective," Giebutowski said,
adding that as more states sign statewide contracts to standardize Microsoft
products, they're also realizing total cost of ownership, or TCO, benefits.
"For example, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently completed a
TCO study that examined how much money the state is saving by using the
Exchange e-mail server platform," he said. "Pennsylvania found that government
agencies were saving at least $7 million to $8 million a year by using Microsoft
Exchange. This data translates into better services for citizens, more efficient
government and less cost."
In addition to Pennsylvania, Giebutowski said Colorado, Arizona and
Florida have also signed statewide agreements to standardize their desktops
on the Microsoft platform.