5 years ago today…
In this blog our Chief Executive Officer and AC founder Chris looks back on the public Beta launch of Advice Cloud at Brighton Digital Festival!
5 years ago today a very nervous (soon to be ex) public sector buyer stood up at a Brighton Digital Festival event that he’d organised with Wired Sussex, GDS & CCS to introduce the Brighton SME tech company to the fantastic invention that was G-Cloud and how they could potentially take advantage of this!
The crowd had come to hear two luminaries of the G-Cloud / SME world speak and understand better what was being done to improve public procurement of information technology and of course me….
Yes folks, 5 years ago today Advice Cloud had its Public Beta followed 3 weeks later by full launch on 1st October (eg when I left my contract at Brighton & Hove City Council).
Obviously the two luminaries were the star attractions, Tony Singleton, then Programme Director of the G-Cloud Programme at GDS and Stephen Allott then SME Crown Rep at CCS.
I had managed to secure Tony’s attendance about a month beforehand via the unique method of insulting him on Twitter!
He kindly arranged for Stephen to travel down too….
There are loads of stories from that day (my wife doing the door in her best cocktail dress, last minute filming, losing Tony 5 minutes before start then finding him in the Wired Sussex loos, me fluffing my lines, overrunning by an hour, fire alarms etc etc etc) but overall it was an amazing launch pad for Advice Cloud and one that I look back on fondly….
I never honestly thought that we would get to where we are today with the amazing team and truly awesome set of clients that we are very blessed with. The G-Cloud/Digital marketplace crowd is still one of the most fantastic communities that I’ve come across. Everybody wants the best for it and for the reforms to continue! As the business owner I get the privilege of looking back and forward and I can hand on heart say that I am truly a very lucky man.
Some words from Tony…
It really doesn’t seem like 5 years ago when Chris ‘invited’ me to come to Brighton to talk to local SMEs about the benefits of the G-Cloud framework and why they should consider applying for it. I have long been a champion for SMEs and why the public sector can gain so much with working with them. I prefer to say working with them rather than contracting or procuring them as it is working
as a single, multi-disciplinary team that will deliver the greatest benefits. Sadly, some organisations still see the relationship very much along the lines as client / supplier. But I digress.
The timing of Chris’ invite was couldn’t have been better. It came earlier in 2014 at a time when my team and I were looking at replacing the ‘Cloudstore’ with the Digital Marketplace building on the ground breaking work that had gone before. The outcome of the alpha phase of this work was blogged about in March 2014. The workshop that Chris organised gave me another opportunity to talk to small businesses about the barriers they had either experienced or thought they might encounter when trying to break into the public sector market and to feed into the service design.
After leaving the civil service in 2017, Chris offered me a great opportunity to work closely with Advice Cloud as they are an organisation that really cares about their customers, both SMEs they are working with and public sector organisations. Long may this continue!