When we sit down to write about this year’s trends, it’s way different than previous years, and there’s a certain apprehension to make any predictions with full confidence. Most of our expectations for 2020 were shattered by the pandemic and its sidecar of chaos, so weighing in on what might happen this year feels like grasping at straws.

While there were some predictions we caught from the get-go — for instance, to no one’s surprise, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certifications have become paramount for success with DoD contracts — most of what we thought would happen last year, did not. So, as I look back on the past year and try to draw some conclusions about what we’ll see in government contracting, I’m nervous about what catastrophe is lurking in the coming months, waiting to disrupt our industry during 2021.

Yet, there are some things I feel confident about moving forward. As we turn the chapter on 2020 and open the door to 2021, I believe some trends will shape the nature of work for government contractors. Many of which are remnants of last year’s events, while some I hope to come to fruition without the barriers of our current business climate.

2021 Trends in Government Contracting

Continued Investment in Remote Business

The shift to remote work within the federal government itself and government contracting has opened the door for various business improvements. One of the most pressing is IT modernization; as government contractors invest in remote-enabling technology, they’re also setting up an architecture that aligns their business with modern tech stacks and demands. While government contractors have migrated their workforce to home offices to promote safety, they’ve been able to enjoy some uplifting benefits, including lowered business expenses, increased productivity, and improved customer satisfaction.

Before the pandemic, remote work was a sort of luxury enjoyed by less than 20% of the country’s workforce — not to mention they only worked from home a few days a week — but now it’s becoming a permanent designation for many workers in government contracting. Thus, the lunge to securing a remote workforce in government contracting will continue to soar in 2021.

“Agencies need to step back and plan for the reality that remote work will be the norm for the foreseeable future and that even after the vaccine is deployed and employees start to return to work, work will be different than it was pre-pandemic. Focusing on the long-term technology needs of employees and the citizens they serve in areas like digital services, cloud computing, and cybersecurity, and making the right investments to support them should be at the top of the priority list.”

– Mike Hettinger, president of Hettinger Strategy Group, Federal News Network.

Prioritizing Cyber Security and the DoD’s CMMC

In November of last year, the DoD issued a Memorandum concerning the Interim DFARS Rule, which elaborated on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certifications (CMMC) requirements and implementation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). To no surprise, the influx of technology expansion in the federal government and among government contractors has accelerated the need for encompassing security. As many companies working with the DoD began planning for the certifications after enactment in September 2020, the influence of 2021’s effect on all government contractors signals a boost in maintaining NIST security protocol.

Whether you’re new to the CMMC requirements or NIST parameters, we’ve published a blog to help you start planning for adherence within your organization. There’s no better time to start than right now!

More Affordable Recruitment and Staffing

One of the accessory benefits of having a remote workforce is that companies can increase the scope of their potential new hires. This allows many government contractors to recruit their staff from less expensive metropolitan areas like Washington D.C., leading to lower salaries given the cost of living in those areas and opening the door to budget expansion opportunities. When you compare the cost of living between Washington, D.C., with less expensive cities — even in the surrounding areas — you’ll find that remote hiring can offer significant savings around your hiring budget.

Expansion of Digital Events and Conferences

The market for digital events and virtual conferences has exploded over the past year, and their popularity has no end in sight. Within the next decade, the virtual events industry is expected to become a whopping $775 billion industry. In government contracting, holding virtual events and conferences was a staple of 2020 sales strategies, and in 2021, we’ll be seeing an expansion of those capabilities: live demos, webinar broadcasting, internal and partner conferences, team-building events, job fairs — the list goes on. Not only does it promote safety, but this trend toward digital events opens the door for incredible collaboration and opportunities for government contractors that may not have had the resources to attend or sponsor in-person events in the past. Through virtual events and conferences, government contractors can boost the value they deliver to customers and industry professionals alike.

Amplified Marketing Initiatives

Without the opportunity for in-person sales meetings or outbound activities, government contracting will see an increase in leveraging inbound marketing to boost site traffic and sales. In almost every industry, the need for precise targeting and content marketing has been amplified by the pandemic. Whether it’s for providing value or enhancing their brand through thought leadership content like blogs, eBooks, reports, case studies, and other sales enablement content have become a primary approach to engage with clients and deliver value across their customer base.

The past decade has shown a significant shift in government contracting marketing from outbound tactics to inbound-centered methodologies. Still, the implications of COVID-19 are accelerating that change from small to large businesses working with the federal government.

Rereading all of this manifests a commonality: disruption can ignite incredible growth. Whether it’s in the way we pursue contracts, our methods for enhancing security, or building out new and improved marketing strategies, disruption breeds innovation. And if 2020 showed us anything, it’s that in times of mass disruption, precise strategy and awareness are critical for empowering our business and driving continued success. In an ode to the XTIVIA B2B Pivot Series we launched in June of 2020, I’ll close with this quote:

“Disruption is an amplifier that surfaces anything already happening in a business, whether it’s weak spots, strengths, or potential opportunities. In other words, disruption amplifies what was already happening and what is possible. Using strategy to focus the generative energy caused by disruption is constructive and can progress your business beyond where you are now.”

– Lynn Scheurell, B2B Pivot Series 2: Pivoting Disruption Through Strategy.
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