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If 'Information is King' why don't we use it, better?

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Tuesday, February 19, 2013

As a government contractor I repeatedly stated "Information is King" in conversations, and often to myself as a trigger to push for more, more, more of the stuff it takes to make decisions. Not just decisions, but good decisions that would lead to growth for myself and the companies I worked for or led.

Years later when I began imparting my philosophies in the form of seminars and workshops as co-leader of The American Small Business Coalition, I wanted to know more about the origin of "Information is King" as it again plays role in my day-to-day activities. So I did a little research and found:

"Not having the information you need when you need it leaves you wanting.
Not knowing where to look for that information leaves you powerless.
In a society where information is king, none of us can afford that.”

- Lois Horowitz

As far as I'm concerned, truer words have not been spoken.

Not only is this absolutely on-point for federal contracting, it's applicable to every aspect of life. But let's not get too far down that road, I'm only here to talk about it in the context of federal contracting.

In the late eighties, when I was a newbie to this business (yes, we had electricity and cell phones back then), the Internet was still a few years away from its formal debut. Resources such as FedBizOpps, CCR/SAM, ASFI, NECO, USASpending, FPDS-NG and the plethora of web-based information brokers that exist today, didn't then. At least not in the form you see now.

  • FedBizOpps was the Commerce Business Daily (CBD) delivered by snail mail and fax as well as bid-boards on the wall outside the offices where the contracting officers were situated.
  • CCR and SAM were SF-129 Mailing List Solicitation Forms that you sent to every government activity you wanted to do business with. Not at the department level but at the regional, district or field location level.
  • In those days, market intelligence was generally something you got through conversations with customers and your buddies around the industry, in addition to whatever paper-based information service to which your company might have been subscribed.

The Internet Age came about and more and more information started to become available online. Many FOIA requests became accessible through FOIA Electronic Reading Rooms, CBD went the way of the dinosaurs, and public web access to government transaction information became a reality.

Today, I and many folks I know, can do weeks of general or comprehensive research in a few hours or less.Which brings me to the point of this particular blog.

With all of this information available online and from other sources (free, nearly free and more), why do so many disregard it? There is a plethora of information available for the taking and the average federal contractor (large and small) have not the foggiest idea how to tap it. We have become too dependent on the many products available to the masses, and have forsaken doing additional investigative work on our own to further qualify or validate existing knowledge.

I have been in meetings where company representatives have challenged the information provided by agency officials, such as release dates for solicitations and more, stating the information they just heard did not match what was in the database to which their company subscribed. I can't make this stuff up.

While these subscription services do a good job at delivering what they say, I know from my own experience using most of them at one time or another, and from talking to folks in the know at these organizations, there is a lot of information left in the repositories they mine, that is not making it to your screen. You didn't ask for it, so they don't have a need to provide it.

If you could only see what you are missing. I do.

This is by no means a knock on any of the companies doing business as information aggregators. It is, however, absolutely a knock on the average federal contractor for becoming complacent in how they find and leverage information and intelligence. Or, maybe they just never learned how to do it in the first place.

In a lecture/lab market research workshop delivered in two half-day sessions, I see epiphanies occur regularly mostly due to helping participants achieve a different level of understanding about the information they see and hear, where they get it, and most important, how they use it. The feedback we receive and the results we hear about are awesome, to say the least.

So if you had an opportunity to better leverage the same information to which you have access today to achieve better results in decision-making, would you seize that opportunity?

Here is feedback from someone who recently seized the opportunity for their company:

Based on your experience today, would you recommend this program to your colleagues?

"Yes and No – I would highly recommend this class to any business looking to improve their process for building a federal pipeline from the point of inception to proposal submission. However, I would not like my competition to have these applications -from a competitive standpoint. Take that as a compliment."

- Christopher Cole, NPC, Inc.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Visibility and Opportunities for Growing Small Federal Contractors. SAP Task Force™.

Tags:  decision  FPDS  governmen contracting  intelligence  market research  USASpending 

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