The industry is starting to respond to the moves made by the Office of Fair Trading earlier this week to look into the way government ICT services are procured with some recommendations from channel players already being voiced.
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The OFT made it clear that it wants the industry to submit its thoughts about the current £10.4bn market, which tends to favour a handful of larger suppliers, by the 18 August.
Once it has gathered information about the market the prospect of an investigation into the way government ICT services are purchased looks like a distinct possibility.
Peter Groucutt, managing director of Databarracks, has been quick off the blocks to advise the channel to do just that if smaller suppliers want to try to change the status quo.
“Those involved in the procurement process need to participate and be honest in this process if we are to see an end to the domination of a few big players in the market. Ensuring that the taxpayer is getting the best deal, that government departments are receiving the best value and most innovative solutions is crucial – and the only way I can see this happening is ending the current oligopoly," he said.
“We have seen the Government begin this process with the G-Cloud framework. Although there has been some criticism about the level of uptake we are confident, as the knowledge of the framework increases so will the amount of purchases from the CloudStore. Those departments that have already used the G-Cloud framework are really seeing the advantages and are now working with SMEs that are able to provide real value with fantastic innovative solutions," he added.
Phil Dawson, CEO of Skyscape Cloud Services, also pointed to the way the G-Cloud Framework had been established as a model that the channel could recommend the OFT has a look at with a view to getting it followed by government elsewhere in ICT procurement.
“An investigation into unfair trading practices in the public sector is certainly to be welcomed. For far too long, IT giants and incumbent suppliers have been allowed to reign supreme. It is precisely this dominance that has created a stagnant public sector market, which is exactly what the G-Cloud programme was established to tackle," said Dawson.
" A marketplace dominated by inflexible and expensive suppliers impacts negatively on the service being delivered to the end-user, who in the case of the public sector market, is the general public and ultimately the UK tax-payer," he said.
“While G-Cloud has experienced the growing pains common to almost all new Government initiatives, it is delivering a much needed change in the public sector’s IT procurement process – delivering far greater transparency in terms of pricing and offering a broader choice of suppliers and services," he added “The tide is finally turning in the public sector IT market and with the G-Cloud Framework continuing to work towards creating a more transparent and vibrant marketplace, there really is nowhere to hide for the old incumbents."
Photo credit: David McCardle