In this guest post, Rob Anderson, principal analyst for central government at market watcher GlobalData, takes a look at the implications of delaying the launch of G-Cloud 10 by up to a year.
Making in-roads into the public sector can be a precarious task for IT providers, and does not get any easier when the procurement rules of engagement seem to keep changing.
When the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) recently confirmed the ninth iteration of G-Cloud could remain in place for up to 12 months, it is understandable why supplier concerns were raised.
According to CCS, the extension will give it more time to radically transform the framework for the benefit of both users and suppliers.
Yet eighteen months ago, suppliers were told CCS (alongside the Government Digital Service) were undertaking a new discovery process and that G-Cloud 9 design would go ’back-to-basics’ to deliver improvements for all.
A number of tweaks were made, including the removal of one lot, the elimination of overlapping iterations and an increase in the management levy. These changes, however, were not enough to stimulate significant growth in throughput.
CCS claims, with some degree of credibility, the frameworks have helped drive up cloud adoption and expanded the pool of SME suppliers public sector organisations can buy from, but more of the same will not further increase the volume or value of transactions.
To that end, delaying the rollout of G-Cloud 10 is at step that should be welcomed.
G-Cloud 10 delays: The pros and cons
Where some will see the hiatus as a benefit (if it results in a more attractive and flexible route to market) others will be unhappy with the change in G-Cloud release cadence. In a market accustomed to regular Digital Marketplace updates, a year’s delay may seem like an eternity.
There is also a danger delaying G-Cloud 10 will potentially slow the momentum of SMEs building their businesses to reach the 33% market share the government proclaims to want.
Of greater concern for CCS and suppliers is the continuing antipathy of the wider public sector to all of The Digital Marketplace; around 90% of spend has been by Whitehall departments and metropolitan councils.
To be recognised as a true aggregator of commodity IT products and services, the buying agency needs to attract more buyers from a broad cross-section of public service delivery organisations.
CCS is also under pressure from its Cabinet Office paymasters, who are still awaiting the magnitude of savings long-since promised from the rolling review of frameworks.
Yet the unit continues to adopt a Field of Dreams “build it and they will come” mindset, rather than listening to user needs and adapting accordingly.
One must hope the CCS uses the breathing space to address those needs to create an enhanced Digital Marketplace and a firm foundation for the broader Crown Marketplace to be built upon.
For whatever the future holds for CCS, the outcome will have a profound effect on both public sector buyers and suppliers.