Think Digital Partners’ main consultancy firm relationship is with respected think tank Kable, and when we found out that the team planned a completely new public sector-facing service, we immediately wanted to know more. That service’s new head, IT sector heavyweight and veteran analyst Gary Barnett, Head of Enterprise Advisory, Kable Current Analysis, took some time out of his busy schedule to fill us in.
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself, please, Gary?
I’m the head of enterprise advisory for Kable, with responsibility for all of Kable’s end-user clients. I’ve been an analyst since the late 1990s, working in the UK and the USA, and in recent years a significant proportion of my work has been in working with end-users, helping them to select and implement technology. I began my career in IT as a programmer, then worked as a client/server architect, then as a CIO – and earlier this year, I left the analyst firm Ovum to join Kable with my colleague Emma Wiseman to build a dedicated enterprise advisory service for UK public sector organisations, which we’re now launching.
Sounds fascinating. What’s this new service – where can I find it, who is it for?
It’s for public sector organisations that have IT challenges to address – in other words, all of them! More seriously, our goal is to help IT practitioners in public sector organisations to deliver the digital transformation that they need to by providing them with support, advice, and insight into best practice to help them in the selection, procurement and application technology.
There are three components. The first is the deep understanding of the public sector market that has been Kable’s key differentiator for decades. Next is a repository of technology analysis and research created and maintained by a team of over 50 analysts spanning the full gamut of technologies public sector organisations need to bring to bear in order to transform – we assess and compare everything from firewall technology to PaaS platforms.
The third component is the experience of real practitioners in the public sector. We’re going to find best practice in the field and make sure that it is shared and adopted across the whole sector. By the way, when we speak about “best practice”, we will be talking about practice that is actually practiced, rather than practice that we’ve dreamed up from the comfort of any air-conditioned ivory towers.
To answer the last part of your question, in terms of who could use the service, it’s aimed squarely at technology practitioners and the people involved in the procurement of technology. We have a strong focus on Enterprise Architects, for instance, and we’re running a programme of events and micro-summits (small half day conferences) specifically for this community. The Summits are open to anyone working in the public sector, and are completely free of vendor sponsorship – the goal is to get practitioners together to share experience, recommendations and best practice.
As for where you can find it…. well, we’re on The Digital Marketplace, so we’re easy to find, and easy to engage with. The best way to get a sense for what we do and how we work is to attend one of our micro-summits; in the coming months we’re running ones on Enterprise Architecture, Digital Transformation, the role of Data and Open Source. The events are a combination of presentations (from practitioners, not vendors) and workshops, designed to be a great way to meet peers and get a feel for who we are.
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Why has Kable decided to make this move – why now? What are the pressing market drivers?
We saw a clear need in the marketplace for a different type of analyst firm, one that is genuinely focussed on the public sector and which prioritises helping its clients with the challenges that they face today, rather than opining about what eight out of ten cats might be doing in five years’ time.
Plus, the UK’s public sector is full to the brim with smart, dedicated, and highly professional IT practitioners battling the challenges presented by austerity on one hand and a huge demand for transformation and change on the other. I have to say that the two things that impress and motivate me the most about the UK public sector is the wealth of knowledge and experience on one hand, and the willingness to share and collaborate on the other.
What is exciting for you as an analyst and close follower of the UK ICT market in all this, Gary?
This is the most exciting job I’ve ever had, and I’ve been bowled over for the genuine enthusiasm and strong demand for an advisory firm that offers practical, pragmatic and evidence-based advice that helps people with the challenges they face right now.
Good luck! If we come back to speak to you in a year, what will have changed – what are the goals?
By this time next year, we’ll be running several summits a month, and we’ll be seen as a must-have partner by public sector organisations across the UK. And we’ll also have begun to work with other European public sector organisations – we’re already looking at joining other national frameworks.
Thanks for your time – and keep us posted!
If you’d like to hear more about what Barnett and his team can offer you, contact him at Gary.Barnett@currentanalysis.com