By Bob Gourley
If you are a small business with advanced software or hardware (or both) and believe you have something the government really needs, you may want to pay close attention to this. But read to the end, I conclude with some warnings every small tech firm should consider when dealing with the big guys.
For years the big government systems integrators have struggled with finding the best way to interact with partner firms, especially the great innovators and creators of new solutions (these were topics of my first corporate experience with “Six Sigma” activities at TRW and Northrop Grumman back in the last millennium, and I know all the other integrators struggle with this as well). Just about every integrator has processes for working with small firms, but few have done so well with them as Lockheed Martin has. They seem to go the extra mile to find and help firms get their solutions into offerings to the government (some that come to mind include IronKey, Cleversafe, Fixmo, and all the members of the Lockheed Cybersecurity Alliance).
Today Lockheed made a new announcement that I view as even more positive. They are investing more time, energy and perhaps even money in partnering with Silicon Valley. The following is from their press release:
SUNNYVALE, Calif., March 28, 2013 – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] Space Systems Company today announced an initiative aimed at expanding its collaboration with Silicon Valley companies to meet the diverse technology needs of the federal government.
Called the Lockheed Martin Silicon Valley Alliance, this technology hub will provide the federal government with greater visibility into innovative technology solutions developed locally, including affordable software and cyber security solutions. For example, a game developer’s software could improve the realism of a military simulation system.
“Lockheed Martin has played an ultra-high-tech role in the Silicon Valley story since 1956 when we opened our facility in Sunnyvale, adjacent to Moffett Field,” said Tory Bruno, Lockheed Martin’s president of Strategic and Missile Defense Systems. “The government market catalyzed the initial growth of all high-tech industries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, through the Lockheed Martin Silicon Valley Alliance, we can help to reconnect today’s companies to that market, which continues to be substantial despite a challenging economy.”
Technology companies will gain greater access to Department of Defense, NASA and other U.S. government markets, with Lockheed Martin facilitating partnerships that mature innovations into products that meet federal requirements.
The high-performance systems that Lockheed Martin develops require a range of technologies, including cloud computing, biometrics, information management, modeling and simulation, precision pointing, energy management and storage, optics and electro-optics, and nanotechnology.
Companies interested in participating may register at the following web page:
At the link above you will find a nice site with more information on what their aims are and an easy on the eyes way of navigating through some important information if you believe you should be partnering with Lockheed.
I was impressed with the site. I enjoyed being able to read through short summaries of activities Lockheed believes advanced technology is relevant for. For example, they listed an opportunity called “On-Board Data Handling for Longer Duration…” The description read:
“Develop autonomous systems with flexible mechanisms to organize and manage data in a way that the systems can make better use of the large volumes of data encountered over the course of missions of moderate length and coverage area, such as support of small Marine units or similarly sized maritime operations. The types of data handled will include both local sensor data, and data communicated by friendly systems that may involve temporal and spatial relationships. The goal would be to be able to use this capability to support improved planning, decision making, control, and system-level situational awareness on-board the vehicle. Note that the development of new hardware or platforms is outside the scope of this topic.”
Firms with a capability that might apply can signal their interest with a mouse click. Pretty cool. I loved the interface. Great use of AJAX-like methods. Very web2.0-ish. I wish all the integrators were doing things like this.
Why is Lockheed doing this? Frankly it is because they are smart. By making it easier to build teams with the greatest tech firms they will deliver better proposed solutions to the government and therefore, in theory anyway, win more business than those that are not partnering with innovators. I view this as a signal that Lockheed knows things are changing in their world (see Ready or not, software is eating the government contracting world).
Some thoughts for Lockheed:
- Dont forget about innovation elsewhere. Silicon Valley is a national treasure and is the place to be, but there are other huge pockets of innovation in Austin, Boston, Raleigh and Reston.
- As your competitors react please see that as a compliment. You are doing good with this. Keep innovating!
Some thoughts for the small businesses that may seek to partner with Lockheed (or any other integrator)
- I highly recommend you keep your eyes wide open when partnering with the big guys. You may both share the same goal of serving the government but other than that your interests may diverge pretty quickly.
- You should understand that even though great initiatives like this can help get the dialog started, managing a relationship with partner firms take time an energy. Make sure you have budgeted the right amount of time for that.
- Also, do not let a relationship with an integrator take the place of building a relationship with the end customer. This is perhaps the most important advice. If the end customer never hears from you or knows of you they will think you don’t exist. It may be that the terms of the integrator limit your ability to work directly with the end customer via the contract, and you will want to honor those terms, but you may want to find other ways to market to the government if that is the case.
- If you have a great technology, you can also submit it to the CTOlabs.com team for evaluation. This will get you in our list of tech firms at our online directory and automatically nominate you for our list of the most disruptive/virtuous capabilities. This will at least bring some additional attention to your firm.