The Case of the UK Digital Marketplace

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There was a time in the early 2010’s that public organizations within state and local government entities were not even really considering “a move to the cloud”. Fast forward in 2020 and 2021 and things haven’t changed significantly. In the European Union (EU) even when we look at the private sector the adoption of cloud computing is not overall great. The Nordic Countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark) have a high adoption of cloud computing, and the rest of the member countries are showing average adoption. In countries like Greece, Romania and Bulgaria the adoption is very low (for more details click here https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Cloud_computing_-_statistics_on_the_use_by_enterprises). In such a context the UK Government developed its Digital Marketplace, which is an impressive and an interesting proposition. It started as a small initiative to provide an alternative way of procuring cloud infrastructure and it became a major driver of cloud products and services consumption for public entities in the United Kingdom (for more details on the actual marketplace you can visit it here https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/). What I am proposing is that even within the constraints of regulation in the different parts of the world, it is worth assessing the UK Framework and try to create something similar that it fits your own national environment. What the UK government did, was to identify the potential for public agencies to access more standardized, scalable, and innovative products and services in a centralized and well-organized way. Their goal was to not only take advantage of pre-negotiated contracts that relied on economies of scale for better pricing, but to also create a platform that allowed smaller organizations to go after public contracts. If you are procuring technology for a public entity today, you are being told that the competition needs to be open so small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can participate. What is not being communicated maybe clearly by the market of SMEs is that they do NOT have the resources, both financial and human, to participate in lengthy processes. The UK Government’s G-Cloud claims to have achieved speed, and simplicity while at the same time it has removed barriers for SMEs. A high percentage of providers in the UK Digital Marketplace are currently SMEs. If you have any thoughts, personal experience with the UK G-Cloud or even objections about its success, please don’t hesitate to contact me. In the next blog, as I got inspired by the UK Social Value program I will share my thoughts around how can a program that aims to give back to local communities inspire more openness and participation in technology public procurement exercises.
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