Member Insight

January 2021

Donald Upson
Founder and Co-Chair Government Business Executive Forum, Co-Chair CES Government 2021

Happy New Year!
Bring on 2021

“May the light of the holiday season shine bright in your heart now and throughout the New Year,” taken from George W. Bush’s holiday card.

Welcome to 2021. I hope everyone had a great holiday season.

Many of us participated in CES Government about this time last year.  We left that conference enthused and optimistic about the importance of our government technology sector and the kickoff of a new decade. We departed Las Vegas unaware that a few short months later we would be locked down, pandemic’d, Zoomed, masked and Netflixed for the remainder of the year. Partisanship crippled government and civil unrest rocked America.  Each one of us faced challenges instant and unimagined, in both our personal and professional lives.  Too many of us suffered the loss of friends or loved ones.  All of us had to find ways to make lemonade from this global lemon.

Generations unborn will study and look back on the year 2020 as one of the most impactful in modern history.  They will see the impact of a global pandemic and the unprecedented social upheaval it caused.  But they will see something else.  They will see the human spirit rise and respond.  They will see a burdened health care system step to the plate, first responders respond 24×7, lower wage workers providing Americans access to groceries and supplies, the transformation of work and health care to remote.  And they will see unprecedented cooperation between government and business, cooperation that led to development of multiple vaccines delivered to millions in record time.

As an organization, the GBEF reimagined and reinvented itself as well. We sold out its 50 corporate member capacity in 2020, and we have a waiting list for 2021.  I am optimistic about where we stand entering this New Year.  We will provide business and government members a unique platform to build valuable connections, share information and learn.  Allow me to share some of our plans:

  • GOVERNMENT MEMBERSHIP: for the first time, the GBEF is opening a membership for government executives. Government members will enjoy full GBEF Executive Committee benefits to include in-person attendance of EDGE2021Series programs, member-exclusive activities at EDGE2021 (formerly CES Government) and digital visibility on the GBEF website (bio and headshot).
  • EDGESeries2021: First to demonstrate that responsible in-person attendance can be combined with interactive, high-quality virtual broadcast, the GBEF will produce eight EDGESeries programs as its core 2021 agenda, each 90-minutes with featured government and technology leaders, and each followed by a reception for our industry and government members. The topics for each of the eight events will be available soon on the new GBEF website unveiled later this month.
  • EDGE2021 (formerly CES Government): Moved to May 13-15 for obvious reasons, this conference represents a major milestone for the GBEF in that it will stand separately as the first major government technology conference with global reach. US Federal centric, EDGE2021 already has commitments from multiple state and local jurisdictions, US partner nations and more than a dozen Federal agencies.  Going forward, the GBEF will produce this conference annually in a different city and venue with Austin, TX and the Silicon Valley, CA in our sights for 2022. As the 15-year premier partner of International CES, EDGE@CES will return to CES in January 2022.
  • DIGITAL OPPORTUNITY: The depth of experience across the GBEF membership is unrivaled by any organization in the business of government. With our newsletter and revamped website (late January), our goal is to provide a digital platform where members can share, learn and interact. A new member-only portal will provide members exclusive research, membership contact information, tech trends and best practice technology applications and more.  We will welcome your feedback as these evolve.

The GBEF mantra is “Be Part of Something Bigger.”  Our plans for 2021 enable exactly that.  Here’s to slamming the door on this pandemic in the next few months and engaging in a fantastic 2021.

Don Upson