The next iteration of G-Cloud and The Digital Marketplace, G10, won’t be open for business until May 2019, meaning G9 will be extended a full 12 months beyond its original planned lifetime.
The Crown Commercial Service said this week that it was ” taking up the option of extending G-Cloud 9 for up to 12 months, in line with the framework terms” and that “the (up to) 12 month extension will commence on 22 May 2018”.
“The decision to extend G-Cloud has not been taken lightly. It will allow time for CCS and GDS to deliver a revolutionary transformation to the platform to meet user needs – for suppliers and buyers both central government and wider public sector.
“Previously, we have undertaken continuous and regular refreshes for each of the individual agreements. However, this hasn’t always given us adequate time for the Digital Marketplace to be developed beyond simply the refresh of these agreements, to meet user needs.
“More time is now needed to transform the platform and make it scalable and more flexible, enabling more framework services and improved customer and supplier functionality based on what user needs have identified.”
While many suppliers did think there might be an extension to G9, few believed it would be as long as a full year – but the Digital Outcomes and Specialist 2 framework and Cyber Securities Services 2 framework were also recently extended until 2019.
Rumours about the possible delay appeared this week, with online news site Channel Eye saying on the 27th that “G-Cloud 9 will be extended by 12 months next week, with G-Cloud 10 now delayed until May 2019”.
That site also speculated that the reason for the delay is that “it is believed that framework has suffered since Tony Singleton moved on” – Singleton being a digital government pioneer and the driving force behind the G-Cloud framework and Digital Marketplace, who is now employed in the private sector.
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The site also pointed out that as each time there is a new G-Cloud, more than 700 new SME suppliers join – but suppliers cannot be added in the middle of an iteration, meaning they have to wait and apply for the next version.
New products and services can not be added mid-iteration, it added, meaning these also have to wait for the next incarnation to launch, while “another issue” is that the delay in a G10 “shows that the government’s so-called commitment to technology is inconsistent and not transparent”.
Delays will cause pricing issues for suppliers, it points out, as prices are locked in when a G-Cloud iteration goes live and can able to be changed when a new iteration launches.
This week it responded to the news with a blog that says the market needs to try and look on the bright side of the G10 delay.
“We are certainly not blind to the potential drawbacks this has both on the SME supplier community already on the framework (no changes to pricing!) or what this means for new innovative SMEs waiting for their chance to sell,” says the company.
“For those who are eager to get listed, lets remember this is an extension and not the end of G-Cloud,” it points out.
However, many commentators do worry this could be a sign of long-term decline for the Marketplace, with web site diginomica claiming the news marks the “death” of G-Cloud, which may be phased out in favour of a new a new platform to support digital commercial frameworks, a so-say ‘Crown Marketplace’.