COMMENTARY

How Platform as a Service is disrupting SI business models

The recent update to the 2010 Cloud First guidance, called Cloud Smart, aims to help government agencies successfully transition to cloud and rekindles the to-the-cloud mantra that government has been shifting towards for some time. Released by the Office of Management and Budget in June 2019, Cloud Smart gives agency leaders the flexibility to forge their own path toward cloud adoption.

For the systems integrator community, this focus on cloud adoption is both an opportunity and threat. Opportunity because it introduces new sources of revenue streams, new service offerings and above all potential to become proactive strategic advisors. Threat because it represents a fundamental shift in business model that some systems integrators will not successfully navigate.

In the tight, consolidating government contracting market, achieving business success – marked by growth and customer satisfaction – hinges on agility, cost control, and orienting yourselves around the government customer.

SIs need to be able to forecast government needs and become more proactive consultative advisors rather than strictly solution providers. Indeed, for this reason, we’ve seen a number of professional services companies acquire technology solutions firms in recent years. 

Admittedly, this push to the cloud is not new, but in recent years, High-Productivity Platform-as-a-Service (HPA PaaS), which allows developers great flexibility and agility to develop applications, has matured to the point where government agencies and the contractor community should take serious note.

HPA PaaS stands to create numerous strategic advantages across multiple lines of business for the systems integrators who take advantage of it. Here are the ways HPA PaaS is changing the SI business.

Improving Internal Operations and Solutions Delivery

First and foremost, HPA PaaS provides increased speed, agility and acceleration when conceptualizing, developing, testing and deploying new solutions. The high degree of customizability and scalability along with their cloud-based low-code/no-code design reduces the need for capital infrastructure investments and allows programming teams to operate on a clicks-not-code basis. Pulling from pre-built apps and components for common application elements frees up developer time for more complex and custom coding work.

The sum of these benefits is lower costs of creating and delivering solutions for both internal operations as well as for government customers. And lower costs equal higher earnings, an important goal for any business, but particularly those operating in the thin-margin environments of government contracting.

Of course, HPA PaaS also accelerates development and delivery of new solutions for government agencies, who are seeking the same kinds of speed, agility and efficiency boosts for their own operations as well. No agency likes a project that is months delayed and over budget. 

SIs that have experience developing, deploying and using HPA PaaS internally are best positioned to deliver solutions built on HPA PaaS to their government customers. Indeed, the nature of HPA PaaS allows for a bigger commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) marketplace of pre-built solutions to common problems that emerge.

By running pre-approved, compliant cloud ecosystems, such solution exchanges greatly accelerate the implementation of new solutions for both your internal operations and customers and reduce the need for drawn-out compliance processes.

Enhancing Employee Engagement & Organizational Alignment

Another way HPA PaaS platforms are changing the SI business is enabling all members of an organization to continuously focus on customer success – the ultimate key performance indicator for systems integrators.

In traditional organizations, key customer insights can get lost in email and paper shuffles, opportunities overlooked. HPA PaaS, on which are built a broad range of business solutions, puts core business operations on a single platform, eliminating information silos and streamlining operational visibility and cross-department teamwork.

In this way, sales, marketing, development, finances, HR and other business departments are consistently in sync, allowing the business to function in a more concerted fashion and enhancing employee engagement and sense of mission.

This benefit reaches all the way to the senior levels of the organization where the C-suite is making big-picture decisions on revenue goals, staffing needs, technology and capital investments and more.

Using IT to Create Strategic Business-Wide Value

In the end, the systems integrator and government contracting community is large and reputation is everything. As agencies continue to overhaul legacy systems and undergo IT modernization, successful SIs will be those who are both strategic advisor and solutions provider. This means creating competitive advantage in both customer understanding and technology solutions – and being able to bridge the two. 

With that change taking place, the CIO role is shifting from one of functional support to one of strategic value creation, ensuring that the technology helping run the business is also understood as technology that can help generate business and associated revenue.

Simply put, SIs that implement PaaS internally are by extension better poised to deliver the technology to customers. 

HPA PaaS is bringing a new era of government contracting and solution deliver to government and the SIs that support them.

The SIs who embrace this will become trailblazers, helping government solve current challenges and get ahead of future mission requirements. Those that don’t, may find opportunities slipping away.

About the Author

John Devoie is area vice president of aerospace and government systems integrators for Salesforce Public Sector.

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