Software in the Obama world

Is it time for a changing of the software guard?A lot of material has crossed my desk lately regarding software sales in the Obama, crisis-cleanup world.

Is it time for a changing of the software guard?

A lot of material has crossed my desk lately regarding software sales in the Obama, crisis-cleanup world. There is some interesting material here and two vendors stand out in the midst.

First, let’s discuss Meridian Project Systems. Meridian offers software to help property owners and construction firms plan, build and operate (PBO) the facilities they build, maintain and operate. Meridian also offers more traditional project portfolio management (PPM) solutions but their PBO offerings have been of great market interest the last couple of years.

Meridian now believes that its PBO offerings should also do well in the new economy as government funded construction projects will blossom. Specifically, the Obama administration is targeting projects that had been previously designed but unfunded or stalled due to a lack of funds. These projects can be restarted in as little as 120 days.

PBO technology may be a real boon to governmental bodies and to the firms that manage governmental assets. The infrastructure that U.S. governmental entities must manage is mind-boggling. As just one example, there are so many roadways in this country that every citizen would qualify for close to a mile of road to maintain. Someone or some entity must maintain and monitor the condition and maintenance of every bridge, library, road, post office, etc. in this country. If the GSA (General Services Administration), Bureau of Land Management and other entities do not have a PBO solution today, they should get one. I’m sure Meridian would like to help them with this. (FYI- Meridian has some really great data on the scope of the economic recovery and its impact on governmental infrastructure. It’s worth a read.)

NetSuite’s OpenAir product line is gaining momentum with government contractors. OpenAir is a PSA (professional services automation) solution that helps service firms optimize their resources, sell and deliver work and improve process efficiencies. They have recently scored wins with a number of government contractors including: Ciphent, Portal Solutions, AuthSec, American Federation of Teachers, AcuTech Consulting Group, and Information Experts. These wins put OpenAir on a competitive collision course with Virginia-based Deltek.

These vendors are interesting in a couple of dimensions. First, they possess SaaS versions of their product line and governmental entities haven’t really embraced SaaS in a big way yet. Maybe, President Obama, a Blackberry user and hip chief executive, can move governmental bodies to consider SaaS in more deals. Second, each vendor can offer more traditional methods of licensing and hosting a product, if so desired. Third, government contractors may be more of a Trojan horse in introducing new technologies (e.g., the cloud computing model) to governmental agencies. If the software is used daily by these contractors, maybe some of its ‘goodness’ will rub off on the governmental entities they are assisting.

Well, who is currently winning the wallet-share from the government sector? Check out this Computerworld blog as it shows many of the old school vendors have captured a lot of the government software spend. But, that could change. Will it now?