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Why G-Cloud shows that more choice isnt automatically beneficial

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The UK Government recently started the third iteration of its G-cloud programme – G-cloud iii. The first version of the programme was launched early last year and aimed to bring about a fundamental change to the way that the public sector procures ICT and specifically cloud services. Its objectives are to help the public sector to achieve large, cross government economies of scale, deliver flexible and responsive ICT systems and to take advantage of new technologies.

To do this it established the CloudStore where public sector ICT buyers could go to procure cloud services across a range of service areas. The third iteration of G-cloud still adheres to these objectives, but having listened to feedback from suppliers and buyers, the number of categories available on the CloudStore will be extended.

More choice must be a good thing, right? I’m not so sure. Initially CloudStore was supposed to offer ICT buyers a trusted and sanctioned set of cloud service providers that had already undergone due diligence in line with the Government guidelines. The first version saw nearly 600 suppliers listed on the store. How does a smaller (think SMB) public sector ICT buyer decide which of the 600 suppliers is right for them? Usually it will come down to price and this means the buyer may miss out on other economies of scale gained by using a more appropriate supplier.

I think reinvention is good. Self-examination and the ability to continually adapt who and what you are in line with needs of your stakeholders can only be beneficial to both parties. And it’s here that I think that potentially G-cloud is missing a trick. It has the potential to become a cloud community – a place where the public sector and cloud service providers can meet and share best practice, and where experiences can be shared and greater economies achieved.

Extending the range of categories will certainly bring more choice of cloud service providers in to CloudStore, but by creating a community the Government can help ICT buyers make better and more clearly defined choices that map closer to their needs.

It’s the difference between providing simply a window display or a true customer relationship.

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