Cloudy forecast for government's online IT services store

20 February 2012
The UK government claims the launch of the first public sector “app store” will “revolutionise the purchasing, management and delivery of public sector IT”. The CloudStore is essentially an online catalogue, which public organisations can use to establish call-off contracts for IT services under the G-Cloud framework agreement. The government claims this will make buying “quicker, easier and cheaper”. But changes to behaviour are rarely made quickly and easily, and I wonder how much effort has been put into ensuring it gets used. Driving of efficiencies through use of a framework agreement doesn’t have a foolproof track record, so what will be different here? Especially in a category with a history of dependency on a small pool of vendors used to signing long contracts. The potential for savings and efficiencies from the CloudStore will only be realised if buyers start using the service. Have their concerns surrounding capability, security and familiarity (even if they are unwarranted) been addressed? Equally important is how much consultation there has been, or will be, with stakeholders? Those buying these IT services are not always going to be the end-users, so purchasing something ‘quickly, cheaply and easily’, which ends up gathering cobwebs or slows work down because it takes six months to train everyone how to use it, will be a false economy.
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