Editorial

G-Cloud 8 Launch Fails To Silence Digital Marketplace Doubters

  The start of August saw the 8th version of G-Cloud going live – a move welcomed by much of the UK public sector ICT market, though questions remain about the on-going effectiveness of this approach to reforming tech procurement. On the plus side, over 750 new firms have been on-boarded to G-Cloud 8, which… View Article

Posted 16 August 2016 by

 

The start of August saw the 8th version of G-Cloud going live – a move welcomed by much of the UK public sector ICT market, though questions remain about the on-going effectiveness of this approach to reforming tech procurement.

Are enough contracts being signed off the back of The Digital Marketplace?On the plus side, over 750 new firms have been on-boarded to G-Cloud 8, which means the current total number of suppliers on both it and its G7 forerunner stand at 2,726. Further underlining the government’s commitment to reform, no less than 94% of newcomers are smaller players (SMEs).

In addition, total sales of ICT products and services through G-Cloud have now risen to well over a billion pounds,
£1.26bn, of which 77% is said to be from Whitehall itself.

There has also been great interest in the addition of blockchain technology provision to the roster for the first time, mirroring increased interest in the sector for applications backed by this forms of digital security. (The first firm in question, which says it can deliver a BaaS, ‘Blockchain-as-a-Service’ option in the form of distributed ledger, is called Credits.)

And on the final side of the credit tally for G8, a new GDS head has been appointed – Kevin Cunnington, a former private sector CIO who was most recently director of business transformation at the Department for Work and Pensions.

However, there remain some challenges to the whole Digital Marketplace project – at least in some observer’s eyes. For example, Steven Cox, public sector head for Fujitsu UK and Ireland, was quoted in Government Computing arguing that more could be done to improve transparency with regard to providing data and feedback to support a better understanding of buyers’ needs, as well as improving overall local government awareness about how the framework functions.

Cox is far from being alone with such views, which is why G-Cloud 9 is expected to look a lot different. Among improvements commentators most commonly need to see: better ways of delivering feedback and data to suppliers, for example.

What we can be sure about is that suppliers will continue to press GDS for more help in making the system technically work better, but the biggest issue seems to be an education one: for whatever reason, the public sector is still reluctant to embrace G-Cloud, as even £1.3bn is a drop in the ocean of the total central government ICT bill, let alone the wider UK public sector’s.