SMEs, is it all doom and gloom for you in the public sector tech space? Recent reports suggest it is!

Written by Eleanor Willock

G-Cloud’s updated spend figures are out; they have surpassed the £2.4 billion mark and 47% of total spend was with SMEs and 73% – in terms of total number of deals – was also with the SME sector. All hail GDS, all hail the SME and get out your claxons finally Government knows its ok to do different!

But, before you start bellowing from the gantries, hold fire. In this report from ChannelWeb Tom Wright takes the view that large suppliers continue to dominate government spend – almost a 10% increase on the previous spend figures released by CCS in January.

More alarmingly is the suggestion from an industry consultant quoted in the same piece that the reason SMEs have faired so well on G-Cloud in the past is because large vendors have decided not to participate in the framework for a number of reasons, not least: not wanting to publicly reveal their pricing and because they already had in the bag multi-year contracts. But, this may be coming to an end.

Worryingly, the same consultant suggests those legacy contracts are now coming to an end and, reading between the lines, the suggestion is that their existing lion’s share of spend will likely increase.

It is a stance echoed by Bryan Glick, editor over at Computer Weekly who knows a thing or two about government and technology. He takes a slightly more holistic view of total government spend on technology, citing figures from the National Audit Office that point to 94% of total spend on IT is still going to the large vendor community.

Not surprisingly, GDS has been quick off the mark to ‘defend’ the figures, or rather give its take on them. Less spend is with SMEs, because since the Digital Market Place has taken hold, companies that were once SMEs have blossomed and grown – which is encouraging, if not somewhat dubious. Warren Smith, director of the Digital Market Place provides some degree of reassurance by adding: “We are continually focused on breaking down the barriers to entry for SMEs to do business with government…”

Whether you take the view of GDS that spend with SMEs is likely to increase, or whether you take the view of Computer Weekly, Channel Web and its industry consultant is neither here nor there really. It’s a risk that you need to consider.

So, if you are committed to public sector tech, then the reports will no doubt alarm you somewhat. But, what can you do to ensure you are best placed to continue to win, or win your first piece of government business – even if the big boys do return?

It’s simple – buyers buy from companies they know or have some degree of empathy with. The public sector doesn’t take risks – trust in suppliers is everything. You need to focus on your business, how you differentiate it; you need to increase your company profile and set your perception – build your reputation – to where you want it to be.

Whatever happens, don’t sit idly in the digital market place and think business will come to you – it won’t. You need to get your house in order and start thinking about ‘how are you going to increase your profile and make sure buyers understand your business?’ Only then will you really be in a position to capitalise on what is a multi billion pound industry.



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