A key THINK Digital Partners supporter is go-ahead UK tech IT PR specialist Mantis PR. We spoke with its co-founder and Managing Director Toby Gavin to find out more.
Tell me about Mantis PR, please Toby – what is your role and what clients are you helping in the UK public sector?
Mantis is a specialist public sector technology public relations agency. Our knowledge of the media and our relationships with public sector technology writers and industry stakeholders in the UK is unmatched, while our ability to turn our clients’ customers into advocates for their products, services and way of thinking is unrivalled. We help our clients monitor, connect with and influence the key individuals and groups driving public sector technology policy and our job is to help our clients get their voice heard at the very heart of government, increasing their profile and helping them get them known for the right things.
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By partnering with THINK Digital Partners, we are aligning ourselves with one of the most exciting and forwarding thinking organisations for technology and the public sector. You guys knows the issues that are driving procurement trends within the sector and can help tech companies capitalise on the plethora of sales opportunities that exist.
What is your view on the current state of G-Cloud, Toby, based on your industry experience and what clients are saying?
I do get a little tired when I constantly hear vendors say: ‘G-cloud doesn’t work; it continues to pay homage to the large and mighty vendors.’ If G-cloud wasn’t here, would spend be as high as it is with SMEs? I doubt it. G-cloud was only launched in 2012, and in UK public sector terms that is a short time, even if in private business terms it’s not. Whitehall moves slowly, and whilst The Digital Marketplace (as it now is) is not perfect, surely its better than some – not all – alternative public sector procurement routes?
There are several thousand competing offerings, competing vendors, competing services on G-cloud; buyers do business with companies they already have affinity/empathy with or have heard of. It’s no different to a consumer – you buy brands you know, mostly. If those SMEs are not selling, or are not successfully selling there, I don’t think it’s because G-cloud is broken. I think it’s – in part – due to companies getting onto G-cloud and sitting there and hoping buyers will find them and engage with them. I doubt they will. Businesses need to get onto G-cloud, get compliant, get known, and then market themselves. G-cloud does not replace traditional sales and marketing activity – G-cloud is not a sales strategy, its a fulfilment engine.
There are some great examples of SMEs winning – GDS darlings Skyscape (now UKCloud!), Kainos, Huddle and some of my own client base to name but a few. Should HMG be doing more? Yes. Do the majority of buyers still need convincing that its ok to do different and engage with the unlikely lads? Definitely. But all in good time – and the government likes to take its time. So I see lots of grounds for optimism, and I really look forward to engaging with more stakeholders at things like THINK events to help forward the cause.