We had the opportunity to sit down with Rob Williams from ATP Gov, a SMART Technologies reseller, to talk about what his clients are looking for in interactive technology and the benefit of SMART products. We take pride in our partnerships and this one is no exception. ATP Gov is a leading provider of information technology solutions for the federal government. Because their clients rely on secure, innovative, engaging technology, SMART was an obvious choice.
Hear directly from Rob what features and technology are most important to his clients and how SMART and ATP Gov work together to bring it to life for government officials across the United States.
1. Tell me about your work environment. Do you have remote, in-person or hybrid employees?
ATP Gov is a virtual company. Our headquarters is out in Chicago but we have sales leaders in South Carolina, Charleston, New England and scattered all over the United States. I'm located in Northern Virginia. We rely on virtual collaboration and have been used to that because of our setup.
2. How do you facilitate collaboration in your own company?
I think the hybrid model is the new way of work. Companies were certainly headed in that direction pre-COVID, but the pandemic showed us that work could happen from virtually anywhere. We were headed in that direction anyways but the pandemic may have given us the right push to understand hybrid working models and make it available to employees.
The biggest factor for collaborating in a hybrid work model is that it has to be easy, and technology can make that happen. Tech has to be intuitive, seamless, effective and encourage all users to contribute.
3. How about your clients?
Our clients are based in U.S. Federal government. All of our customers face the same challenges as small businesses and corporations have had. All of a sudden, they needed to get better at supporting remote workers. Most of their work needs to be physically documented and we actually saw a huge increase in printer sales at the beginning of the pandemic because so many government workers needed to be able to print and sign documents from home.
But other folks who are less paper intensive still needed to collaborate on projects. And of course, they have incredibly important missions. They can’t wait for technology to catch up to them, it has to be there 100% of the time for these folks.
The ability to use things like SMART Meeting Pro to collaborate in real-time while whiteboarding, annotating over documents, storyboarding and bringing elements from different people together was transformative.
4. Are there other features or aspects that your clients are specifically looking for in technology?
Well, of course. Broadcasting meeting notes or deliverables to groups or meeting attendees seamlessly without the need to put it in an email and make sure the right people are in the recipients and SMART Notebook lets you do that. That is something that I think all companies have needed for a long time but they’ve created their own workarounds and other software toutilize that SMART just automatically supplies.
SMART really makes a difference in their collaboration offerings. The collaborative tools are incredibly powerful, unlike anything else you’ve seen. The software is amazing and supports edits, creativity and most importantly, collaboration, all in one space.
I think the biggest feature that our clients are looking for is to make sure it integrates with the tools, platforms and software their company is already using. Whatever operating system they’re on, no matter what devices they're using, Mac or Windows, what conferencing app they use, whatever they’re currently using, they can take advantage of that on a SMART Display. And you can still take full advantage of the collaboration tools that come with SMART.
I heard a stat the other day that security breaches happen every 11 seconds across government and corporations. It seems like every day there’s a new fishing tactic or scam. One of the things that SMART does really well is to seamlessly integrate tools, and sometimes security tools, safely and securely. Downloading additional plug-ins, firewalls or add-ons can compromise your security and privacy. Our clients will always ask if it integrates with their own high-security practices and the answer is always yes with SMART.
And lastly, tech that’s intuitive. Business and government leaders are looking for tech that doesn’t need hours of training to use. That will both lead to wasted time and reduce the chance of it being utilized. Tech that’s intuitive lets employees begin working, collaborating, even after the display is installed.
5. What are some of the challenges your clients face in the workplace?
I think that this was a movement that was occurring before COVID, but the pandemic brought it to the forefront. A lot of government employees were sent home during COVID and are now buying into the concept that we don't all need to be physically in the office together and are a bit resistant to returning to the office. If the government wants to keep the best and the brightest, they're going to have to adapt their workplace in a manner that suits their lifestyle and collaborate in a way that's comfortable and productive.
Their number one challenge is to address the needs of the new generation of employees. With the influx of technology and digitization, employees are not only preferring a digital workplace but they’re demanding it.
6. How can interactive technology help to solve these challenges?
Tools like SMART help to facilitate collaboration with both in-person employees and remote. Communicating between decision makers and stakeholders still needs to happen regardless of your location.
If you look at the US Army, think about how many army bases are there around the country. They need to be able to collaborate on certain things in real time and to have the ability to have a tool where they can quickly pull people together and exchange information and ideas in real time is just invaluable. It’s not just something that had to be done because people are working from home now. We’ve always had the need to collaborate and communicate from thousands of miles away.
I think it's actually a better way of facilitating communication and collaboration than if you were to gather everyone in the same room together.
7. How has SMART Solutions improved your clients' experiences?
It’s been huge. It's literally replaced the office whiteboard and it's better because you can use the documents and programs that you use every day. Pull in a PDF, shared drive document or show people your calendar all in real time.
It’s so much better than a meeting in which somebody is sitting there, stationary and note taking. It’s distracting, takes focus away from the content and as good as you can possibly be, you're going to miss things. To be able to have all the content that people discussed, including touching the screen and annotating over documents, on the SMART Board and ready to distribute provides users the ability to collaborate in real time without the clutter.
Meeting Pro and SMART TeamWorks increases everyone's productivity. Like I said, these are important agencies that are doing important things for national security, our economy and our international dealings. We take their missions very seriously just as they take their admissions very seriously. We think that SMART is the best solution for them to support their missions.
I find it interesting that email has been around for, you know, 20+ years as a business tool. At first, it revolutionized the way we communicate. I could send an email to multiple people and multiple people can reply to it. Nowadays, we have that covered and demand more. With interactive technology, you have the ability to communicate, collaborate and collect ideas and artifacts in real time as though we're all in the same room.
8. In your opinion, why is tech in the workplace/government so important?
The number one thing is that all companies, regardless of industry or vertical, demand the ability to collaborate securely, effectively and easily. We take it extra seriously here at ATP Gov because, like I said, these are government agencies that we're supporting and we share a lot of patriotism and pride in making sure that they get the best of the best.
These agencies need collaboration solutions to be able to address national security threats, services for taxpayers as well as for government employees. To be able to support all those different stakeholders is critical to US government agencies whether they be DoD or civilian. I think that having tools like the SMART tools enable them to do more effectively and to achieve those mission objectives.
“SMART has been a great partner and is incredibly important to ATP Gov. We're very proud to have SMART in our portfolio companies that we like to present to our federal customers.”
Rob Williams from ATP Gov
We, at SMART, are very thankful for the long standing relationship we’ve had with ATP Gov and for the continued support and dedication to supplying government agencies with the best tech solutions. We take a lot of pride in being able to work together to provide exceptional support and service to the US government.
Interested in selling SMART? We want to work with you too. Learn more about our SMART Partner Program here and connect with our channel team.