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08 July 2014

Is the government right to focus on buying IT from SMEs?

If we are to believe the headlines of recent months, the ICT market has gone badly wrong at the top, with a few major players dominating public sector contracts, to the detriment of SMEs. Cue a major Office of Fair Trading investigation, and general flogging of big business. But is this really where the problem lies? The government wrote some big specifications for big systems that were won by big companies, and rightly so. With major contracts comes major risk – and do we really want that to sit with SMEs? Indeed, do SMEs themselves really want it? Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the government’s drive to support the SME market – after all, I run one. And I’m certainly not knocking the aspiration for a more competitive and diverse supply chain that encourages innovation and drives value for money, but I don’t believe big-business-bashing is the way to achieve it – and I would question whether the IT Transformation Programme in its current form will help, either. Let me explain. I was at a Cabinet briefing last year. The room ...

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