As part of our push into the public sector, New Relic recently hired industry veteran Joseph Welsh as director of federal sales. Based in Washington, D.C., Joseph brings decades of experience to his role, including spending 11 years running the federal business for Adobe’s media products. Before Adobe, he spent 10 years running federal inside sales for Oracle.
I recently got the chance to talk with Joseph about the public sector technology market and what New Relic brings to the table.
New Relic: Joseph, you just recently joined New Relic as director of federal sales. What attracted you to the company?
Joseph Welsh: I came to New Relic because I saw an up-an-coming software company in Silicon Valley with great offerings that really resonate with the federal government and other governmental agencies.
Oh, and of course I have a great history with (New Relic President) Hilarie Koplow-McAdams and (Executive Vice President, Commercial and Enterprise) Erica Schultz from our days at Oracle where we grew the government business to great success. I’m really excited to take what I did at Oracle and Adobe to a newer, fast-growing company and do it all over again.
New Relic: How would you characterize the current state of government IT?
Joseph: As you know, just about every American is a customer of the federal government in one way or another. We all have to interface with government entities, whether its doing your taxes online with the IRS, or filling out an online form to reserve a campground in a national park (the Park Service is part of the Dept. of the Interior).
It’s very important that Joe Public has a good experience with the interface of whatever department they’re dealing with. And I believe that New Relic has the ability to help government agencies improve their relationships with their constituents by showing them where they’re missing out on delivering a better digital experience.
It’s easy to see on the news just about every day that government doesn’t always spend money wisely. In many cases, agencies could simply change a process from paper-driven to an app and save the agency—and the taxpayer—a ton of money.
Government systems are getting a little bit better every year, and some agencies are better than others, but they still have a long way to go.
Many agencies are doing a phenomenal job, right up with or even beyond many commercial entities. The U.S. Digital Service, a spin-off of the team that rescued HealthCare.gov, is doing great work in helping many federal agencies modernize their technology and applications.
The IRS is also a pretty good example. Think about how they’ve transformed how we do our taxes. Twenty years ago, everyone was filling in the forms and running off to the post office on April 15. How many people still do that? The IRS took a lot of criticism when it decided to go digital; people said it would never work. But it’s proven cheaper and more efficient, while increasing the number of returns processed and reducing the number of mistakes.
But other agencies are practically living in caveman times, just scratching down stuff on a piece of paper and sending it off somewhere. At least one agency I know of literally takes formal handwritten applications and then faxes them from the tenth floor to the third floor, where someone else then hand enters the information into a database. There are too many 40- to 50-year-old processes like that where people are still doing things the same way. The waste is really significant—if everyone was able to make the switch to digital tomorrow, we’d save billions.
New Relic: How can New Relic help jumpstart improvements in government processes?
Joseph: It boils down to innovation. Even when governmental agencies go digital, they may not have much visibility into how well their digital experience is performing. As a SaaS-based offering, New Relic makes it easy to get started and start seeing value right away.
That’s something that many federal agencies aren’t used to. They’re used to big software companies coming in and asking them to do a lot and spend a lot before they start seeing value. Plenty of agencies have been burned and are now justifiably hesitant to go that route.
With New Relic’s SaaS model, though, the costs that they don’t incur—managing and storing all the data, for example—can be a huge bonus for many government agencies. They can start seeing immediate benefit and a high ROI.
Sometimes government agencies are afraid that new technology will point out their mistakes. But understanding where your shortfalls are before the masses start complaining about them can be a huge win. Technology like New Relic is a great way to get visibility into the performance of your apps, websites, and other outward-facing processes.
New Relic: Can you talk about some of New Relic’s biggest wins so far in the public sector?
Joseph: Obviously, New Relic being used to help fix HealthCare.gov was a huge win within the government. When you look back at the problems they were having, just getting people into the system, having people get kicked out of the system—that was a really big deal. More recently, New Relic products are helping the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) boost stability and show the benefits of ongoing improvements to the healthcare exchanges.
Just as important, we’ve launched a partnership with IT solutions provider Carahsoft Technology Corp., which does a ton of business in federal, state, and local governments as well as in higher education. The way I view it, there is Carahsoft and then there’s the rest of the world when it comes to public sector resellers. It’s the ultimate VAR in the government industry.
See press release: New Relic Launches Partnership With Carahsoft Technology Corp.
One big reason is that, unlike other VARs, Carahsoft devotes individual teams to selling each vendor it works with. There’s a New Relic team at Carahsoft that is selling and talking New Relic all day every day, which means I can look at Carahsoft as an extension of my sales team. It’s why all the large software players want to have CS in their repertoire of players.
New Relic: Finally, New Relic will be a sponsor of the ATARC Federal Cloud Computing Summit in early 2016. Why is that important?
Joseph: This is one of the year’s biggest events within the government computing industry. Our participation shows the government—and the rest of world—that New Relic is a force to be reckoned with and we plan to be a player for years to come. It’s all part of our investment in serving the public sector, including bringing me on board and building a sales and marketing team. I’m incredibly impressed with what New Relic is doing. We’ve recognized there was a tremendous opportunity, done our research, and gone deep into the market.