Since then, back channel noises indicate that there are plans for some significant profile raising to come over the next few months. That being the case, I'm very pleased and look forward to hearing more about these plans as they emerge.
Certainly it was encouraging to see how high a profile G-Cloud had at this week’s Public Sector Show in London with Tony Singleton, G-Cloud program director, in attendance and updating delegates on the initiative’s performance to date.
The officially published sales figures for total transactions via the G-Cloud framework to the end of March come in at £175 million with 60% of that business going to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Singleton also chose to highlight the ongoing nature of the work still to be done:
"I would just like to finish by addressing something I read the other day. This said that G-Cloud had become business as usual. How I dislike that phrase, business as usual. It suggests to me that it’s job done, sit back, put your feet up.
"No, it is NOT business as usual, there is much to be done in transforming the way IT is not only bought but also consume across the wider public sector."
For her part, Sally Collier, chief executive of the Crown Commercial Service, picked up on the transformative nature of the G-Cloud, saying of frameworks in general that:
“When they are bad, they are very bad and they lock out innovation. But when they’re good, they’re very good. It’s really brave to set up something like G-Cloud and completely transform the way government does its buying.”
Later in the day, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, known to be one of G-Cloud’s most influential supporters, also chose to focus down on the success of the program in his keynote address:
“We know the best technology and digital ideas often come from small businesses, which is why we’ve created the G-Cloud framework.
“For both government and the companies listed on the CloudStore, this means less bureaucracy and less hassle.”
Maude flagged up how much business is going to SMEs which is another of the causes close to his political heart.
“Over half of this, 60% is going to small- and medium-sized firms. Central government is spending is higher still at 63% and we want it to grow even more.”
Interestingly both Collier and earlier in the day Stephen Kelly, UK government Chief Operating Officer, were keen to emphasise that small wasn’t always better and that there was no inherent bias against the larger suppliers, perhaps indicating a desire to soften some of the more strident criticisms of the public sector IT establishment that we’ve seen in recent years?
This was a point raised at the recent Think Cloud for Government conference at which Dr Katy Ring of the 451 Research group questioned the government's Chief Technology Officer Liam Maxwell on the repeated use of ‘oligopoly’ as a derogatory term to refer to the traditional ‘big ticket’ group of providers to government.
“SMEs drive huge innovation, but big business can be beautiful too.”
That said, it’s clear that the SME sector is benefiting greatly from the G-Cloud. A recent prime example was UK firm Inovem, whose Kahootz collaboration suite was chosen by the Department of Health for use in a shared service programme that delivers infrastructure and team working options for its staff, its Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) and Non-departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs).
The Kahootz Enterprise software is replacing legacy IBM Quickr software.
When the deal was announced earlier this month, Bob Armstrong, DH’s Head of ICT Futures and Shared Services, stated:
“Our Department is actively replacing legacy business systems in favour of more flexible Cloud-based shared services for departmental and partner operations. The acquisition of the Kahootz cloud collaboration service, via the G-Cloud CloudStore, will enable us to improve the way we securely share knowledge, collaborate on policy, consult with stakeholders and engage partners in our work.”
This is the kind of deal we want to hear more about.
£175 million and counting. Not bad, not bad at all.
And most encouraging to see the G-Cloud name-checked in so many of the presentations at the Public Sector Show.
The best, I suspect, is indeed yet to come.
For now, I’ll leave the final word to Singleton: