In defence of G-Cloud
Nicky Stewart, commercial director at Skyscape Cloud Services, responds to recent concerns about G-Cloud from Memset co-founder and managing director Kate Craig-Wood
It's sad to hear that a UK SME is considering giving up on G-Cloud, as Memset recently indicated in a blog post . Kate Craig-Wood, Memset's MD, said "I got involved in G-Cloud back in late 2009 as their technical architecture co-lead on Phase II of the project......I have been a vocal supporter ever since, even in the face of depressingly slow progress, but today I have finally had enough. The dream is dying."
Kate's blog is a frank account of her disillusionment with G-Cloud. Memset has not won any new business from G-Cloud since 2013, despite making heavy investments to meet the government's security requirements.
G-Cloud opened the door to the UK public sector for Memset, as it opened the door for Skyscape and thousands of other UK SMEs, when there was no other door. G-Cloud has allowed buyers access to suppliers and services that they would never have had access to before. It's delivering efficiency, agility and innovation in equal measure. It's saving the taxpayer millions of pounds, and its sales are growing month on month, now exceeding £1bn. Skyscape grew with G-Cloud and has created over 130 jobs to date. Many other UK SMEs have reported growth that can be directly attributed to G-Cloud.
Regardless of one supplier's opinion, SMEs will be the powerhouse that drives the UK's digital economy. The work the government has done over the past five years - launching G-Cloud, embedding the Lord Young reforms in contract regulation, and establishing the 33% SME spend target - has supported that goal.
However, G-Cloud alone cannot solve all government's IT challenges - such as its vast and complex legacy estate - nor is it an instant antidote to government's commercial and procurement challenges. Government is investing heavily in its commercial capabilities, and we need to be patient and see this work bear fruit.
More official guidance and coaching for SMEs to support their efforts to bid for and win business is also needed. We would like to see a greater appetite within government to extend the commercial principles that underpin G-Cloud to other ICT and digital procurement categories capable of commoditisation.G-Cloud has levelled the playing field for SMEs, but is still a marketplace, and like any other marketplace, there is no guarantee that a supplier will win business. However, many of Skyscape's partners are trading successfully on G-Cloud, and share our views.
Lou Valdini, UK Business Development Director at GoPro Consulting Services said, "GoPro has been trading successfully on G-Cloud for some time, and we have seen consistent growth in our sales and revenues from G-Cloud. Key to our success has been delivering services that meet government's needs, at the right price point.
"Understanding the government market is key, and we use the G-Cloud iterations to review and refine our offerings, and effectively drive our product lifecycle. G-Cloud buyers are becoming increasingly G-Cloud "savvy", and nine times out of ten the buying process is friction free and exceptionally quick, compared to a conventional government procurement. We think G-Cloud is one of government's huge achievements, and are looking forward to many more years of successful trading through G-Cloud."
As we look beyond G-Cloud 8, to G-Cloud 9, we all have an opportunity to join GDS on its G-Cloud 9 discovery phase.Skyscape hopes the G-Cloud supplier community will get behind this and work constructively with GDS to make G-Cloud even better than it is now, whether that is looking at the terms and conditions or the mechanics of the digital marketplace itself. There is a bottom line, though. Whilst G-Cloud is SME friendly, it has to be an attractive marketplace for the buyer too, and shouldn't be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.
G-Cloud isn't perfect, and never will be. However, it would be a disservice to G-Cloud, its buyers and suppliers, to suggest that G-Cloud is a fundamentally broken model. There will always be winners and losers, but none of us should ever lose sight of where we all were in 2009, when Government started to think about cloud. The world is very different now, and Skyscape won't be giving up on G-Cloud any time soon.
Nicky Stewart is commercial director at Skyscape Cloud Services