Can’t wait for G-Cloud? Here’s Data and Application Solutions!
Data and Applications, what we know so far and why you should be on it...
Data and Application Solutions (RM3821) is a brand new framework for the procurement of software and services that can meet complex and specialist business needs. The framework is set to replace both Corporate Software Solutions (RM1042), which expires October 2018; and Local Authority Software Applications (RM1059), which expires August 2018.
Data and Apps has similarities to the existing RM1042 framework. Customers will be able to procure much of the same softwares (for example, CRMs, HR, Payroll, EDRM, ERP, etc.)
What is missing in Data and Apps from RM1042, is a dedicated Lot for the development of mobile applications. Suppliers can still provide these services but via different Lots.
The framework is important because it specifically includes provision for technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data which – although also available from some suppliers via the G-Cloud framework – are still emerging in the public sector and certainly need more encouragement to flourish in the right environments.
It is unclear yet whether Data and Apps will continue with G-Cloud’s commitment to transparency or whether it will be more like its predecessor The Local Authority Software Applications (LASA) framework, with the supplier catalogue only available to public sector buyers.
Evolution of the name
The framework first came to our attention in early April 2017, and was known briefly as “Software Solutions.” After a Supplier engagement event a week later, the framework became “Enterprise Software Solutions,” and the PIN was published. CCS, sometimes in partnership with TechUK, hosted several discovery and feedback workshops with buyers and suppliers from April until June. After a focus group in September however, the framework evolved to become “Application Solutions.” By the 5th December, CCS had begun to use the name we use now – “Data and Application Solutions.” We think this is the one that will stick.
Why? This evolution shows that both buyers and suppliers want the framework to go one step further than simply “software” and are interested in the various applications that can be executed on their systems. Applications can perform specific tasks and functions – helpful in the public sector, where specific problems need specific solutions.
It now is also explicit that this framework includes Data services, such as Big Data Softwares, which much of the public sector – particularly local government – have been slow to take up. This will hopefully offer a simple way for public sector to engage with these emerging technologies and to better use data to inform the development of public services.
How is it different to G-Cloud?
With G-Cloud being the benchmark of success for a framework in our eyes, we thought we best look at some of the differences and similarities between the two.
Firstly, the notable absence of any hosting services, unlike G-Cloud, Data and Apps has focused only on software and support services. This in part must be to do with the frameworks that Data and Apps is replacing Corporate Software Solutions RM1042 and Local Authority Software Applications RM1059 and also perhaps because these services are readily available via G-Cloud and the Crown Hosting framework. With over £267 million spent on Cloud Hosting services via G-Cloud since 2012, perhaps there is no need for another route to market to complicate things.
Data and Apps will not only offer cloud-based services, but also on-premise. While the Cloud First mandate, “migrate to the cloud” missions and the convenient (and more sustainable) scalability of cloud computing mean that it has been a focus of digital transformation for a while now, sometimes it doesn’t solve the problem at hand.
Data and Apps also has a different Lot structure to G-Cloud. Rather than focusing exclusively on ‘umbrella term’ Lots, Data and Apps has more Lots, varied by technology but also verticals, perhaps an attempt at creating a less crowded and more focused marketplace. This will also make it much easier for the public sector to procure through the framework, as the Police can go straight to their Lot and those in the NHS can head to the Health Lot, with suitable services shown to them.
Now we just need to know… will Data and Apps be click-to-buy, as RM1059 is? As it’s likely to be run through the Government E-sourcing Emptoris portal, we might be being a little optimistic here – as we know from TP2 and TS2, the portal will make you miss the Digital Marketplace.
Data and Apps VS G-Cloud
So how much money is expected to go through Data and Application Solutions? Well with an estimated value of £1.2 billion for software and £400 million for services, it’s a lot!
Since 2012, G-Cloud has seen over £2.4 billion in sales across all 3 Lots (and more since July 2017, but we’re still waiting patiently for the latest data!).
And we know that specific verticals happily use G-Cloud for procuring their cloud tech. In 2017 alone, SaaS spend through G-Cloud by the police totalled £2.26m (with 50% of that going to SME’s); spend by the Health sector on SaaS came to £9.23m (with over 60% going to SME’s); and Local Authorities procured over £79 million pounds worth of cloud software last year! Will we see some of this spend redistributed through Data and Apps? After all some of the Lots that have been suggested for Data and Apps are already categories on G-Cloud under Cloud Software (for example CRM, EDRM, HR, Project management), having between 1000-2000 relevant listings in each. However, as we know buyers are creatures of habit and may be slow to adjust to this new way of finding services, unless of course it’s easier to buy them with one click…
Which framework is right for me?
G-Cloud, now in it’s 9th iteration, has generated sales of over £2.4bn with 47% of this awarded to SMEs. G-Cloud it could be argued, has done more than any other framework to transform the way Public sector procures IT and digital services. With its relatively low barrier of entry for smaller businesses, G-Cloud allows government easy access to innovation.
However, It is clear that Data and Application solutions is one to keep an eye on if you are hoping to supply software to the public sector, especially if your target market is Police or Health, but also if your software is available on premise, as this is currently out of scope for G-Cloud, which as its name indicates, is for Cloud solutions only.
Data and Apps will likely have a more intensive application process, and so if you are an SME you will perhaps need to dedicate more time and resources. But if you are already on G-Cloud, Data and Apps seems like the next logical step for your business and in terms of exposure it could be best for some companies to be on both G-Cloud and Data and Applications. In order to make a splash in a sometimes crowded marketplace.
If you’re not yet on G-Cloud and with it being delayed, then applying for Data and Apps could be the route to market you need until G-Cloud comes around, there is definitely a scope overlap between the two frameworks and this could be the one for you in the meantime.
If given the success of the format of G-Cloud, we can see that Data and Apps is CCS trying to build on that magic formula. There is definitely room for more than one framework in this town!
We can see that with Data and Apps we are treading familiar ground and a lot of the services are similar if not the same, to those available on G-Cloud. However, Data and Apps seems to be opening the door to the newer technologies like AI and Big Data, making them more public sector friendly. Seeing the name of the framework develop, it shows that public sector technology is moving in the right direction! We’re looking forward to seeing how this opportunity for suppliers and buyers alike, evolves in the coming weeks and months.
Watch this space – OJEU due end of January!