As part of the research for CRN's inaugural Public Sector Report, we recently caught up with Faith Clayton (pictured below), head of distributed government at Computacenter. She filled us in on her thoughts on the rigour of tender processes, whether selling product to the public sector can still be profitable, and why CIOs still have a few misgivings about the cloud.
CRN: Do public sector IT suppliers have to lead on cost savings and efficiencies, or is there still scope to pitch on an innovation platform?
Faith Clayton: There is scope to pitch innovation, particularly where IT is seen as a change agent. There is an opportunity to innovate, but there has to be a cost saving somewhere down the line. Innovation for innovation's sake is a thing of the dim and distant past.
Have government bodies made moves in recent years to collapse the supply chain and buy more services from fewer, bigger suppliers?
For us, in government there has actually been a widening out of the supply chain, rather than just looking at large organisations, particularly in the central government space.
Who does Computacenter see as its key competitors - the big systems integrators or the traditional resellers?
I think we fall pretty much squarely in the middle. We are not up there with the SIs; we do not do the business applications and business intelligence that they do. But we do much more than the reseller product business.
Can product supply still be inherently profitable in the public sector space?
I think it can be. We can still make a level of profit on the product, but they are very, very strict with the margins - we have to be extremely transparent with the margins we make.
Have suppliers faced more scrutiny and due diligence during the tender process in recent years?
I think financial stability has been more important over the last few years, in terms of the questions we have to answer and the terms and conditions that the government want us to sign up to. There has been a high sensitivity as to how stable organisations are.
What are the public sector's feelings on the cloud?
I think there is an interest in it just now - in things like backup as a service, for example - as opposed to the wholesale moving of things into the cloud. There is a lot of interest in a new way of working, but there are concerns around security and the location of where data is held.
The CRN Public Sector Report is the industry's most detailed ever study into how this key market has been impacted by austerity measures, where its priorities and challenges lie in the future, and what the channel must do to succeed.
Spending and supplier information has been provided by 95 local authorities from the length and breadth of the UK. This is coupled with a survey of more than 200 IT decision makers in local and central government, healthcare, education, emergency services and other public bodies. The report also features both high-level and in-depth market analysis and revealing interviews with resellers, analysts and end users.
The CRN Public Sector Report provides:
• Detailed information on how local government IT budgets and investments are being affected by recession and austerity
• Data on how much authorities have spent in the last two fiscal years, and who they have spent it with
• Insight into which channel firms are continuing to thrive in the market
• Candid feedback from public sector CIOs on what their IT suppliers are doing well and where they are falling short, and how best to gain their attention, and their business
• Feedback on what government IT chiefs really think about a range of issues, including cloud, off-shore outsourcing, supply-chain management, shared services and data security
Resellers can register here for their free copy of this groundbreaking report.
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