Rafael Cortes of Foehn reviews the success of G-Cloud and what the most recent iteration offers the future.
The latest iteration, G-Cloud 11, marks our sixth year as a listed supplier on the government’s procurement framework and it still presents us with the most important channel for reaching central government and local authority bodies with our cloud communications solutions.
With the experience gained from this long-standing G-Cloud connection, it seems appropriate to take stock and offer a quick snapshot of where it’s been and where it’s going.
We find that G-Cloud continues to provide the primary route for procurement of cloud services on the digital marketplace. Each year enhancements to the platform and its processes add efficiencies, attracting new suppliers and helping customers across a wider range of public sector bodies.
Last year, the framework was streamlined to help cut administration for both supplier and customer. The result appears to have attracted a substantial number of newcomers to G-Cloud 11. The figures are impressive:
- 30,000 services are supplied by the 4,200 listed companies up 20%.
- 90% of suppliers are SMEs with a cumulative spend of £2 billion since G-Cloud’s launch in 2012.
- Total G-Cloud spend to date is now approaching £5 billion.
Much of this growth has been built on the trust built between the customer and the G-Cloud process. For example, suppliers are required to submit a new application every year. G-Cloud approval is not just a simple copy and paste each year. Past records are deleted, and a repeat application is required annually. That way, standards are controlled, and public sector customers are reassured that supplier data is always up to date.
Sifting through an extensive list of tweaks reveals that perhaps the most significant changes to G-Cloud this year involve security and the need for suppliers to meet more stringent requirements for protection against cyberattacks and viruses. This includes implementation of the newest versions of security technology and software as well as provision of warranties for anti-virus and anti-malware technology, rather than merely an ‘all-reasonable-endeavours’ approach.
Other changes call for greater transparency of supplier records and account information, allowing access by government departments such as the Auditor General, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.
The latest iteration of G-Cloud also strengthens demands on suppliers for policies concerning Corporate Social Responsibility, equality in the workplace and regulations applying to employee rights in supply chain companies.
There are plans for individual frameworks for cloud hosting and cloud services next year to include possible five-year terms, where non-confidential data is concerned, to avoid the admin involved in procurement every two years.
Other plans concern development of another procurement framework specifically for machine learning, artificial intelligence, analytics, robotics, and automation technologies. These plans follow on from publication of an AI Guide, designed to be used across government to help departments implement AI in a “safe and ethical way”.
The Government has also launched a new, embryonic online platform called Spark. This will focus on eight technology areas that include IoT, AI, data, wearables and simulated environments. To date, the platform has been limited to only a small number of suppliers and plans are at an early stage.
Meanwhile, plans for a global digital marketplace, in progress since G-Cloud 10, remains on the agenda for the Government Digital Service.
The Demand for Simplicity
If there’s one benefit of G-Cloud that stands out from all the others, it’s simplicity.
The pressures on public sector for budgetary restraint, regulatory compliance, impartiality and a host of other requirements makes procurement complex, time consuming and prone to poor decision-making. G-Cloud sets out to make life simpler and, with improvements to the framework over recent iterations, has met that challenge. Feedback from our customers bears testament to the advantages.
For example, Greg Jones, Customer Services Transformation Project Manager at Ceredigion County Council, summarizes the process of acquiring our cloud contact centre solution:
“With a basic specification we were able to use the government’s G-Cloud service to identify a provider with the best fit for our requirements, including cost. Importantly, G-Cloud made a big difference in reducing the timescale one would normally anticipate for acquiring technology of this type.”
Similarly, Adrian Beaumont, IT Manager for the Local Government Ombudsman, highlights the time saving delivered by G-Cloud in assessing our cloud phone system:
“We were keen to use the G-Cloud framework to procure the services, which meant that we wouldn’t have to go through a very lengthy, drawn-out process. On G-Cloud there were pre-qualified suppliers we could be confident were capable of delivering what we needed at a competitive price.”
Simplicity is an issue close to our development philosophy. We make phone and contact centre systems simple to adopt, easier to use and uncomplicated to manage. G-Cloud removes complexity and extends our approach into the procurement process. So long as G-Cloud continues to deliver this important advantage, we will be its biggest fan.
If you’re considering moving to a new cloud phone or contact centre system, a good starting place is our ‘Public Sector Buyers’ Guide’. It will help you address your G-Cloud search and hopefully lead you to the best solution for your services and your budget.
To find out more about Foehn, visit: www.foehn.co.uk