The U.S. government represents an enormous network of employees, agencies and committees. Currently, there are several hundred federal agencies and commissions, employing more than 4,300 individuals.
For value-added resellers (VARs), the public sector represents an incredible business opportunity. Consider the fact that each of those federal agencies requires at least some sort of AV equipment – even if it’s only a projector system.
However, it can be a bit challenging to break into the public sector, so plan carefully. Government entities have a unique set of obstacles to overcome when investing in new technology; however, their public funding also presents its own opportunities.
Consider these four ways to include ProAV technology in the public sector:
1. Get familiar with “secure AV.”
Of course, many public sector entities often deal with sensitive or even classified information, such as social security numbers and dates of birth. That’s why a growing market is emerging for secure AV: government audio/visual technology systems that are designed with a focus on security. The goal is to minimize the risk that the data being processed, sent or displayed will be intercepted or manipulated in any way.
The primary systems in this arena are secure video conferencing and display devices. However, for many government customers, the security of any AV device must be considered, including routing systems, switches and more. In addition, the acoustics of private government rooms and facilities falls under secure AV.
For VARs who are willing to achieve the market knowledge and credentials necessary for secure AV, many opportunities await, now and in the years to come.
2. Stick to the basics.
In many ways, most government customers are going to be very similar to those in the corporate, banking or education verticals. Leverage your expertise and experience with previous jobs, and be prepared to work with public sector end users on much of the following technology:
- PA systems
- Electronic whiteboards
- Public digital displays
- Discreet ceiling and wall speakers
- Media players
- Automation and control systems for lighting, sound, etc.
3. Emphasize training.
A 2013 survey titled “Use of AV Technology in the Public Sector” revealed that many public sector employees feel hampered by a lack of training on AV technology. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they see lack of training or necessary skills as an obstacle to using AV equipment – even though 39 percent of these workers say they are expected to use AV technology very frequently.
This disconnect represents an opportunity for VARs to capture and maintain government customer business by putting an emphasis on training. Offer training on all new devices and systems as part of your base-line service offering, and you’ll be more likely to attract customers in this lucrative vertical.
4. Go green.
In an effort to save money and encourage sustainability, many government departments are making an effort to adopt “green” technology where possible. AV is one area in which going green has lagged a bit, due in part to legacy technology, such as mercury lamp projectors, that aren’t exactly eco-friendly.
Consider marketing newer, more environmentally-friendly AV technology to the public sector as a way for them to reduce their expenses over time. For example, many lamp-free projectors and ENERGY STAR-rated displays are available on the market today, both of which help to minimize an agency’s footprint – while also saving money over the long haul.
In your experience, what is the leading AV technology being used in the public sector? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced when working in the government arena?