Your business can expect government investment to spur a recovery in 2021. BidPrime’s forecast for the year ahead provides numerous indications that 2021 should turn out to be a much better year than 2020.
One big reason 2021 holds promise is the successful rollout of vaccines that—fingers crossed—will halt the COVID-19 pandemic and return life to something approaching normal.
A second big reason for optimism is the newly enacted $900-billion COVID relief package that will help government agencies far and wide purchase the goods, services, and solutions they’ve held off on since the coronavirus crisis emerged last spring.
Unquestionably, 2020 provided a variety of challenges in a lot of different ways for practically everyone in North America, but especially for vendors reliant on contracts with federal, state, provincial, and/or local governments. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns it inspired, innumerable governments delayed, shelved, or altogether abandoned their 2020 procurement plans.
They had no choice. The lockdowns played havoc with the private sector, causing some small businesses to trim payrolls or lay off staff. Unfortunately, some businesses closed. Consequently, tax revenues fell—precipitously in many instances—and government vendors witnessed a number of projected contracts postponed, or in some cases, cancelled.
A Ripple Effect
Stephen Hetzel, BidPrime’s Chief Operating Officer, said he heard from many vendors impacted by the decline in bid opportunities. They spoke of seeing not only their individual businesses hurt but also entire industries affected.
Among the hardest hit were businesses in the fields of sports, sports management, and recreation. But since everything is interconnected, businesses outside those fields likewise felt the adverse impacts.
Hetzel offered the examples of school districts taking the health precaution of canceling football seasons. From that action, emerges a ripple effect. First, there’s no longer a need to purchase landscaping materials and services to keep the playing fields in proper condition.
But there’s also no longer a need to purchase food and beverages for the concession stands, no longer a need to print up programs, or to maintain or upgrade electronic scoreboards, lighting systems, and loudspeakers; no need to repaint the bleachers, no need to purchase training videos and equipment, no need for transportation services to shuttle teams and fans to away games.
Furthermore, there’s no need for uniforms and protective gear, for award-ceremony banquet facility rentals and catering, for cheerleader pom-poms, for team portrait photography, and on and on.
Jim Ward, from BidPrime’s New Business Development, said bid volume patterns were undeniably disrupted in 2020. Prior to then, the number of published bids had been increasing from one annum to the next. But last March, bid volume dipped. It continued to decline until the summer, at which point there was a leveling out.
Overall, however, 2020 ended with lower bid volume. For the most part, as noted previously, the decline was the result of state and local governments electing to forego previously budgeted purchases. However, the opposite was true at the federal level. There, more procurements occurred in 2020 than in the year prior.
2021: Recovery in Stages
BidPrime’s team of researchers and analysts predict that 2021 will be characterized by economic recovery that unfolds in three distinct stages.
Stage I is already underway. Modeling suggests it will be a continuation of investment, programs and efforts similar to the latter part of 2020.
Stage II is expected to begin sometime in February or March. At that time, the initial rollout of COVID vaccines will be well underway and the lockdowns will be scaled back hopefully.
Also, funds from the $900 billion COVID-relief package enacted in late December (along with additional spending initiatives promulgated when the 117th Congress convenes on Jan. 3) should by then have made their way to state and local government coffers. Notably, the lion’s share of the relief funding is slated for counties, cities, and towns.
Ward believes Stage II will closely resemble the recovery of 2009. As then, governments in 2021 will respond to the infusion of cash by greatly stepping up their purchases of necessities and goods, services, and solutions previously budgeted and targeted for 2020.
“What they did in 2009 worked and will work in 2021,” he asserted. “The 2009 relief package was lifesaving, but mid-2020’s CARES package by comparison has been little more than an economic tourniquet to stanch the bleeding until government could figure out what to do next.”
Then Things Should Really Get Good
Stage III of the 2021 COVID recovery is expected to arrive in April or May. On the agenda for government procurement entities will be two major items: investment and revitalization.
“I’d look for a strong pivot into green industries,” said Hetzel. “If it happens, it’ll embrace solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. There’ll be more energy efficiency upgrades, weatherization improvements, HVAC efficiency and LED lighting. Sustainability will be the theme.”
In line with that, Hetzel also foresees notable investment in carbon management, carbon sequestration, and energy production from wastes. As was the case in 2009, government money in 2021 will be spent on:
● Renewable energy generation
● Grid modernization
● Storage batteries (they’ve come a long way since 2009)
● Weatherization assistance
● Carbon capture
● Mass transit projects
● Water projects
Ward, meanwhile, is upbeat about bid opportunities related to another dimension of the sustainability push that’s believed coming: the continued rise of “smart cities”. These are metropolises planned and wired to the nth degree to make for greater economic and social efficiencies.
Smart cities tend to spend money on things like micro-transit, bike shares, scooters, urban renewal, green zones, pedestrian-only streets, and amenities that support work-from-home (such as drones employed to deliver packages and to help make neighborhoods safer). In 2021, this type of spending will increase, Ward is convinced.
In smart cities and plain old-fashioned ones alike, anywhere that people gather there will be a need for cleaning and disinfection services, Ward adds. This includes playgrounds, patios, meeting rooms, and indoor or enclosed outdoor public spaces in general. Thus, hot in 2021 will be personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes latex gloves, medical-style face masks, antibacterial sanitizers, and possibly even hazmat gear.
In that same vein, 2021 should be a big year for touchless technologies that can be applied to drinking fountains, toilets, sinks, door openers, ATMs, pay phones, intercoms—any communal device traditionally operated by the press of a button, a flip of a handle, a turn of a knob, or a push with the hands.
Self-serve kiosks have been around for a while, but they’re expected in 2021 to be in greater demand among government entities. The reason is that kiosks allow agencies to interact with the public in an office or facility setting but minus a customer-facing employee. One new use for kiosks is to greet people as they are about to go inside a government building and check them for signs of fever: anyone whose temperature registers above normal could be is denied entry.
Other Opportunities Likely to Be Big
Forecasters say growth will be seen in the areas of virtualization, cloud hosting, and e-learning. Spurring this will be a continuation of 2020’s trend to conduct more and more government business remotely, with the aid of smartphones and apps.
In 2020, working-from-home cut deeply into government purchase orders for office supplies, such as paper, photocopier toner, and printer ink. However, on the flipside, requests for desktop computers and monitors, laptops, Chromebooks, and related accessories increased.
Expect to see more of that in 2021. Remote meeting platforms also will be huge. “In 2020, videoconferencing was big—in 2021 it’s only going to get bigger,” according to Ward. “Same with virtual learning: some studies show that potentially up to 80 percent of schooling will now be conducted online.”
2021 could be the year that fiber optic connectivity pushes beyond the metropolitan areas. At the least, those in rural areas may discover that 5G broadband service is headed their way. “We should see a lot of bid opportunities related to this,” Ward said.
Hetzel envisaged 2021 producing an abundance of bids for call centers—design, construction, buildouts, equipping, staffing, maintenance, security, chatbots, conversational artificial-intelligence systems, and more. “Call centers were on the rise in the Midwest and northern Canada during 2020, but in 2021 the demand for them will spread to other regions,” he predicted.
Possibly the Two Biggest Opportunities of All
Of all the growth industries in 2021, none will prove more vital and vibrant than telehealth. As a result, there almost surely will be overhauls of electronic health records systems and databases. Analysts anticipate a surge in bid opportunities arising from this.
(On a side note, healthcare laboratory testing services have been in big demand since 2020. No indication that this will be any different in 2021.)
A close second in the running for most vital and vibrant growth industry of 2021—and maybe it’ll even beat out telehealth by a furlong or two—is cybersecurity for the reason that EHRs won’t be the only data systems that undergo revamping. Other types of electronic record systems, including those in the realms of finance, commerce, education, housing, justice, energy, and transportation, will similarly be subjected to vital modernization efforts.
Unfortunately, any time a data system is lacking necessary cyber hygiene measures, hackers and thieves suddenly materialize and attempt to abscond with priceless information. Government entities know this, which is why many of them will step forward with substantial bid requests for data-breach protection services.
Even if an agency has no plans for a database overhaul, cybersecurity still will be a concern because so many of its employees now work from home—among the least secure places for conducting online business.
Prediction: BidPrime Can Help You Succeed
One final prediction for 2021. Bid opportunities will more frequently arise in industries and sectors that might catch you by surprise if you’re not relying on BidPrime to alert you to what’s going on and to facilitate your access to the bid documents you’ll need in order to submit a competitive proffer. In addition, we project that bid timeframes, from bid issuance to award, will continue to shrink.
In case you’re new to BidPrime, we track and aggregate solicitations from more than 115,000 government agencies across the U.S. and Canada. These include bid opportunities from university and college systems, K-12 school districts, transit authorities, utilities, and other publicly operated entities.
BidPrime allows you to choose how you want to be alerted to bid opportunities and from which government entities (based on their type, category, location, historical procurement patterns, and more). In most cases, fully fleshed-out opportunities are in your hands less than an hour after they’re first unveiled, giving you a clear jump on the competition.
Your ability to swiftly prepare and submit a winning bid is enhanced by BidPrime’s ‘Docs on Demand’ service, which supplies you with a wealth of supporting documentation prepared by the issuing entity itself.
Another reason to make your run at 2021 with BidPrime on your team is the unparalleled customer service you can expect. Not only do BidPrime’s representatives stand ready to help you with account customization and other matters, but they also take the initiative to reach out to you often just to make sure everything is working exactly as you want—and even to offer helpful suggestions to improve the results you get with BidPrime.
Visit BidPrime or give us a call. We’re standing by to help you start 2021 strong.