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24.05.17

G-Cloud 9: Choosing the right supplier for your cloud communications

James Passingham, chief technical officer at Foehn, a G-Cloud provider since 2012, reminds us it’s vital to choose a cloud phone system supplier that can also deliver expert advice and technical support.

The arrival of G-Cloud 9 marks the latest iteration of the innovative and influential Digital Marketplace platform for government technology. But there’s a lot more to this particular launch than meets the eye for public sector technology professionals seeking innovation, and departmental decision-makers focusing more on the bottom line.

G-Cloud has redefined the way that many UK public organisations acquire and try out new technologies to better enable their frontline and back-office services. It’s delivered a way for public bodies to get away from inflexible, long-term contracts that bedevilled initiatives like the National Programme for IT and try new technology models.

As a provider of cloud communications and open source technologies, G-Cloud 9 marks Foehn’s fifth G-Cloud accreditation in succession, spanning five years, when our company has been successful in winning significant contracts from bodies wanting to acquire Foehn’s services through G-Cloud.

New features in Foehn’s easy-to-use cloud phone systems will further help public organisations to take control of their communications strategies flexibly via the cloud. Our offerings help IT managers and heads of service to develop more agile call strategies or better allocate workloads for frontline teams – tasks that those IT managers or team leaders locked into on-premise phone systems still rely on their well-paid communications provider to do. 

In contrast, Foehn’s cloud-based communications platform, with its open source integration capabilities, enables CIOs, department heads and supervisors to avoid buying on-premise telecomms infrastructures with heavy up-front costs altogether and move to much more agile, pay-as-you-go communications options. 

As a result of this flexible procurement and product deployment, Foehn has helped public bodies like the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to modernise and save over 30% – with senior personnel adopting dynamic work practices across their different office locations and home working needs. And this wasn’t a small-scale tactical project: through the G-Cloud, the LGO’s ICT department procured a new Wide Area Network (WAN) infrastructure, hosted PBX with interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities, and call centre management platform, all implemented in conjunction with Foehn.

Equally importantly, we have helped smaller, cash-strapped bodies like district councils to deliver better customer service by setting up virtual call centre environments, as well as using our user-friendly interface to better manage workloads. Using Foehn, call centre team leaders now respond quickly to changing call levels and staff resources, with their decisions drawing on our real-time reporting of traffic patterns, calls handled and call queues. 

At the same time, these councils have stripped tens of thousands of pounds from their annual phone bills. Boston Borough Council managed to reduce its annual fixed telephony costs by more than 40% by moving to a hosted IP telephony system. These are small-scale but nonetheless game-changing benefits for local government IT budget holders, whose only realistic choice in the years of austerity has been to cut costs – while being pressured to innovate at the same time.

That’s the cloud technology user’s side of the story… but G-Cloud 9 is also likely to change the game for IT buyers and budget-holders with little room for financial manoeuvre as well.

Previous G Cloud versions had been criticised for being too difficult or inflexible, but the latest G-Cloud 9 has addressed these claims head-on and in crucial ways.

The new Digital Marketplace groups services into three simple categories: ‘Cloud hosting’, ‘Cloud software’ and ‘Cloud support’, ensuring greater clarity for buyers. Secondly, qualifying questions reflect public bodies’ rising security requirements while enabling vendors to better explain how their offerings will fulfil these changing needs.

Thirdly, the marketplace has relaxed its two-year G-Cloud contract terms rule that frustrated buyers and suppliers with 12-month extensions. Contract terms and conditions are now matching the flexibility and choice of the individual cloud products and services themselves.  

The Digital Marketplace’s G-Cloud is a notable government technology success story helping change public service delivery. What we are seeing with G-Cloud 9, however, is a common approach to the detail of procurement, contracts and product information. This latest breakthrough recognises the ever-tighter commercial constraints on government CIOs, budget-holders – and even suppliers – as never before.

Download our Public Sector Buyer’s Guide to Cloud Phone Systems for useful information and tips to choosing a cloud phone system.

 

About Foehn

Foehn is an award-winning provider of cloud communications technology, delivering IP telephony and contact centres to the private and public sectors since 2000. We are an innovative, flexible and attentive SME and what also makes us different is that we are passionate about Open Source technology. It enables us to provide innovative solutions that are more feature rich, easily integrated and cheaper than the proprietary platforms from legacy multi-national vendors. Foehn is proud to be a member of the Government's G-Cloud and Digital Marketplace framework, as well as being selected as provider of IP telephony services on the government's new Network Services framework. Foehn can transform IP telephony for public sector organisations, improve efficiencies and reduce fixed telephony costs by as much as 40%.

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