The slow evolution of the public sector market has centered on relationships as well as project-based time and materials. Its workflows, as a result, have grown accustomed to rely on people-driven, reactive processes. “I believed we could challenge these orthodoxies in enterprise businesses that serve the public sector,” states Gillespie. One of the chief reasons for this decades-old mindset is the highly fragmented nature of government data, which has historically been an intractable problem for enterprises. Government contractors, some of the largest companies on the planet, were searching for ways to grow their businesses by entering newer markets or by taking share from their competitors. But they had no means to catch the vast spray of public sector data being generated by agencies and apply it to their strategic growth plans. “They didn’t have a platform that connected their strategy to their execution, which I saw as an untapped opportunity,” states Gillespie. Govini set out to build a product platform for integrating, visualizing and analyzing a myriad set of data ranging from structured, unstructured and relational data to temporal and geospatial data. “We identified early on that the combination of technology, proprietary data, and analytics could level this playing field at a rapid pace,” says Gillespie.
“Historically there have been very few markers in the industry that point toward better utilization of this extraordinarily granular and valuable public sector data,” says Gillespie. “There are several lagging indicators but few leading indicators in this space, and no real analytics.” Govini developed a highly proprietary business intelligence platform for any company selling to the government. “Structured for analytics, real-time, searchable, and comprehensive; our platform helps decode public data,” states Gillespie. Whether it's about new contracts opening up in the market, or the latest Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A); the platform picks up cues from the data for the benefit of Govini’s clients.
The Washington, DC based company has three key parts to their business—proprietary data, custom analytics and an intuitive user experience, and a group of in-house strategic subject matter experts. Today, Govini has become ‘from The Hill to The Valley kind of company’, in the words of the CEO—using Silicon Valley big data processing, machine learning, and predictive analytics to collect and analyze content for its clients around Capitol Hill.
From ‘The Hill to The Valley’ Company
Govini's platform of assets is at the forefront of a seismic shift underway in data-driven approaches to vertical markets, like public sector. “With technologies including distributed computing and machine learning to power data and analytics, platforms like ours are beginning to predict market outcomes with utmost precision,” says Gillespie. In sales and marketing, for instance, the platform extracts and qualifies clients’ leads out of thousands of trigger events. “We match the government’s requests to the products and services of each individual business,” states Gillespie. “With proprietary analytics, we curate the data and serve it directly into the client’s CRM solution, like Salesforce. com.” The platform eliminates the need for clients to download and manipulate the data manually.
We believe we can leverage emerging technologies like machine learning and blockchain to help our clients capitalize on the tsunami of data and data collection
The Govini platform matches the requirements of the government with the customers’ core competencies. It allows customers to follow the money across the entire contracting lifecycle, and to identify teaming partners and build relationships with the optimal contacts. For instance, in healthcare, visibility into the current install base of X-ray and MRI machines is extremely valuable. Depending upon the installation date and life-cycle of these machines, the Govini platform predicts and triggers alerts when the next purchase is going to occur, giving its clients a highly qualified lead.
Govini has successfully paired its core analytics platform with humans to unlock business value across a variety of domains. “Productivity gains come from our machine-first approach, but step-function insights happen with human-machine pairing to augment strategy,” states Gillespie. The Govini platform and the residual know-how on their team combine to form a powerful solution. The company has assembled high-fidelity, machine-built databases from disparate sources that bring in a major differentiating advantage for clients in terms of data density. “With this, it has become possible to create uniquely robust and powerful databases for different markets, which has been described as a new category of super databases,” says Gillespie.
View through a Fact-Based Lens
Information and data insights have become increasingly central to business effectiveness—it’s about what enterprises know and how fast they know it. “We employ data science to cut across the banality of conventional thinking in the public sector, and we look at businesses in this space through a fact-based lens,” says Gillespie. Govini assembles data and analytics in a way that creates a knowledge network for their clients, giving them an asymmetric information advantage in the marketplace. “In many cases, we help our clients regain their sense of ambition and possibility by showing them new ways to think about their business, their addressable markets, and their competitors. That’s a powerful result,” says Gillespie.
"With proprietary analytics, we curate the data and serve it directly into the client’s CRM platform, like Salesforce.com"
Govini helps its CXO clients question assumptions that are pervasive across their organizations. “On many levels, we are myth-busters, using empirical evidence to show them views of their markets previously unavailable,” says Gillespie. “Our most forward thinking clients have come around to the notion that they are better positioned by disrupting themselves before someone on the outside disrupts the market unexpectedly. Our data and analytics give them those prescient insights.” The CIOs in particular, according to Gillespie, are focused on incorporating these data innovations into the fabric of their businesses, because they really sit at the intersection of technology, marketing and sales.
In order to be successful in marketing and sales and to compete efficiently, executives need to get data to the end-points in the organization as autonomously as possible so that every employee can make smarter decisions in context. Organizations that do this effectively will gain advantages over ones that rely on traditional workflows to manage productivity. Govini provides a customized dashboard view of the market to these executives and through the platform’s leading indicators, helps them identify trends before they emerge. “We are constantly adding adjacent datasets to make the platform more useful to those end points,” says Gillespie. “This empowers our clients to leverage data and push out the historic boundaries of their business.”
The public sector, and in most cases the companies that work in and around the public sector, moves slowly. It is typically seen as a laggard field. “We take a contrarian view of this and it’s exhibited in our culture,” says Gillespie. The Govini team has embraced this as an opportunity for disruption, and one that doesn’t occur frequently in markets. “It isn’t often in one’s career that a startup can have such a dramatic impact on an entire industry, especially an industry that represents about one-third of the GDP in the U.S.,” prides Gillespie.
A majority of Govini’s clients fall into two sectors— Aerospace and Defense, and Information Technology. A gap in the capabilities between companies belonging to these two sectors and the data available to them is growing wider every year. “This is an unsustainable paradigm in my opinion, but one that is being solved by companies like ours,” states Gillespie. For enterprises, data normalization has posed a significant challenge, with limited searchability and no real-time availability or analytics across more than 91,000 Federal, State, County, Municipal and Educational agencies. A centralized big data aggregation schema was needed to create an accurate, longitudinal dataset with searchability, real-time availability and analytics across the business development lifecycle. “We dramatically increase sales and marketing productivity, and help our clients with positioning on their competitive landscape,” says Gillespie.
“Our core client base broadly sees international markets as significant growth areas, and we currently have international data and analytics in beta,” says Gillespie. For instance is Govini's partnership with the World Bank, for which Govini analyzes international datasets in countries where the World Bank has a footprint and supplies capital. “We have run several successful pilots with them, looking at transparency laws in various geographies and assembling market data from foreign governments,” states Gillespie.
The U.S. is currently in the middle of “The Golden Age of Surveillance,” driven by the technologies of the Internet of Things, video collection and storage, and sensors and drones. The amount of data being sprayed around, monitored and collected, especially by government agencies, will geometrically increase in the coming years. “We believe we can leverage emerging technologies like machine learning and even blockchain to help our clients capitalize on this tsunami of data and data collection,” says Gillespie. In an environment where the data audit trail and provenance matters, Govini is extremely well-positioned to continue building on their database of record.
"Using big data and analytics technologies it has become possible to create uniquely robust and powerful databases like Govini’s. Think Verisk meets Palantir. Businesses in vertical markets such as Aerospace & Defense and IT Services have demonstrated a great need for advanced analytics, and Govini’s platform has become indispensable to their strategy, sales and marketing teams."
—Arthur Patterson, Founding Partner, Accel Partners
The culture at Govini is far from what one may come to expect at a space where people engage in high-level ‘Data Science’ and focus on the ‘Public Sector’. Decoding value out of data happens amidst hip-hop music and alongside a cold keg in the office kitchen. Abraham Lincoln’s ideologies and the sight of Harvey (Gillespie’s 10-year old pitbull rescued from the streets of Oakland, California) running from corner to corner in search of treats, rule the roost at the Govini headquarters outside of Washington, DC. “We love having Honest Abe represent Govini as the source of truth for government spending,” says Gillespie. “And as for Harvey, the team has embraced him as our official mascot. He found his home in the data science arena.”