Public Sector Focus

12.06.18

G-Cloud 10: small changes, big opportunities

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Rafael Cortes, Foehn head of marketing, explains how G-Cloud 10 should be a catalyst for innovative solutions and not a source of complacency.

It was Margaret Thatcher who once said, “you can’t buck the market.” On that occasion, the reference was made in the context of fiscal policy. More generally, though, the powerful laws of supply and demand emerge frequently to remind us of the huge challenge in selling into both business and consumer sectors where there is no demand.

The tenth iteration of G-Cloud is now in progress and, with much focus on the framework, its processes and administrative challenges, it’s easy to lose sight of market demand and the rapidly changing dynamics of the IT sector. To do so distorts the perception of G-Cloud, its purpose and its performance.

For example, over recent years, some suppliers have criticised G-cloud for sluggishness in building business and sales from the public sector. To a great extent, these views are those of G-Cloud pioneers for whom expectations were set back in 2011 when the government planned to shift 50% of new IT spend to cloud-based services by 2015.

Some seven years later in 2018, that target has still not been reached. Similarly, in 2013, a ‘cloud first’ policy was imposed on public sector bodies by government, setting expectations of a widespread migration of IT services to the cloud. Again, there is little evidence that this has taken effect.

In both instances, market conditions have been stronger than government directives. Spending cuts, lack of in-house resources, risk perception, training requirements... the list of market factors at work resisting purchase is a lengthy one. The point is, though, G-Cloud is not on that list.

Of course, there are success stories – and there’s no denying that the £3 billion purchased through G-Cloud from nearly 3000 registered suppliers may be small in the scale of the opportunity, but is still a significant achievement. Often, those who have succeeded are those who have not lost sight of the adage, ‘Sell, don’t tell.’

It’s not enough just to sign up to G-Cloud and wait for a purchase order. G-cloud is simply a facilitator that has little bearing on the public sector requirement and should not detract from the usual sales and marketing effort necessary to build relationships and confidence between supplier and customer.

Suppliers can’t rely on G-Cloud to generate business and need to play smarter. The perennial complaint from smaller businesses, that they are losing out to the bigger suppliers, is typical of those that perceive G-cloud as some kind of magic wand.

At Foehn, we’ve been providing VoIP communications since the year 2000. When it comes to providing cloud phone systems and cloud contact centres, we know all about competing with (and beating) big suppliers in the quest for local government work. Whilst G-cloud puts us on a level playing field, there are many occasions when we have to box above our weight and it’s naive to assume that public sector buyers will simply disregard larger brands.

That’s why, at an early opportunity, we demonstrate clearly the strength of our reputation, client list, financial stability, etc. With those boxes ticked, buyers then see the true value and advantages of our services.

For the smaller supplier, there’s a big opportunity to capitalise on the agility, personal service and innovativeness that being ‘small’ brings. It’s all about using small business strengths to be better. In particular, it’s important to demonstrate how a smaller, dedicated team can be responsive whilst offering the right combination of talent.

Foehn, for example, is a cloud communications product developer, a licensed telecommunications company with a business grade telephony infrastructure and professional services team with the expertise to address more complex requirements of larger organisations.

SMEs need to remember that after G-Cloud has opened the door, it’s still business as usual. ‘G-cloud helps those who help themselves’ and the evidence of that is in our successes and those of other agile businesses. Our customers at Boston District Council and the Local Government Ombudsman bear testament to this approach.

The recent launch of G Cloud10 was positive news. The 12-month delay, anticipated last November, has been averted and the updated framework will be in action from this month. This is good news to the many suppliers that have been awaiting this iteration and this is reflected in a much higher initial intake of applications from new suppliers compared to last time.

Updates include the inclusion of cybersecurity as a category – a timely and needed addition that will appease risk-sensitive public sector managers who have held back from cloud deployments for far too long, fearing security threats that hit the media headlines all too frequently. Other admin improvements help both existing and new G Cloud applicants renew participation and streamline the supply of information.

I liken G-cloud to passport control at the airport where recent improvements and digital passports have turned a nightmare experience of queuing and delays into a simple, rapid process. Once through the barriers, though, nothing has changed and the battle with train strikes and traffic jams continues. Similarly, G-Cloud is making huge improvements, but the supplier’s journey to winning business from the public sector still relies on competing hard, identifying market demand, solving problems and using good sales and marketing skills to win the sale.

For the public sector, small can be beautiful. The upside is innovative solutions and a better customer experience from agile suppliers who are better equipped to deliver the right cloud technology with professional services excellence.

At Foehn, we achieve that by fulfilling three important roles: a platform and product developer, a licensed telecommunications company with a business grade telephony infrastructure, and a provider of key services, including PCI compliance, professional services and International Numbers. It is this combination of talent and support that G Cloud recognises, thereby giving the buyer a more accurate view of our capabilities.

To book a demo or discuss your VoIP and cloud contact centre needs, please contact us at www.foehn.co.uk

 

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