Most G-Cloud sales to date have been transacted through just 25 suppliers, according to analysis carried out by CRN of the framework's sales data.
As the scheme prepares for its sixth iteration, CRN looked back on all the framework's public sales figures to date and found that despite the government's aim to recruit a vast army of suppliers to "level the playing field" and provide better value to the public sector, the lion's share of sales have gone through just a handful of firms.
Exactly 50 per cent of the framework's total sales – which currently stands at £346m – went through just 25 suppliers out of a total 413 firms which have transacted something on the scheme since it began trading in April 2012.
The top five firms accounted for 18 per cent of total sales, and the top three collectively snapped up 12 per cent of the total. Top supplier BJSS clocked up a total of £17m sales on G-Cloud, which is the same figure as the sum total of what was spent with the 238 firms transacting the least through them framework.
Top G-Cloud suppliers BJSS and Methods Consulting accumulated their respective G-Cloud sales totals of £17m and £13.6m over a total of 562 and 993 individual transactions each between April 2012 and October 2014.
TechMarketView's public sector research director Georgina O'Toole said that winning one government deal can snowball.
"The nature of government means that organisations love reference sites," she said. "Once a supplier wins one bit of business, they are much more likely to win the next similar piece of work."
The Cabinet Office insisted that it is doing all it can to get more organisations on board with the framework.
"The number of customers continues to grow strongly – up 46 in October (bringing the total to 643)," it said in a statement sent to CRN. "The number of suppliers is also growing – up 18 in October (bringing the total to 428). Our regional events have also helped to bring more buyers together and we are working on developing more online resources to help buyers build on their knowledge of technology and procurement."
CRN's analysis also found that since 2012, almost 1,300 suppliers have been accredited as G-Cloud suppliers, but of that figure, two thirds have not made a sale. Only just over 400 suppliers – a third – have made some money on the scheme. The amount successful suppliers have each earned to date ranges from £300 to £17m.
Managed services firm Carrenza's chief executive Dan Sutherland said that many companies see winning a place on G-Cloud as the end game, when really it is just the beginning. So far his company has won about £100,000 worth of business on the framework, but he said his firm had to work for it.
"The statistics don't surprise me in the slightest," he said. "It's very easy to get onto the framework but not very easy to sell things. Fundamentally you are looking after citizen data and you don't want to be the ‘CD-ROM left on a bus' story – you do have to make investments. Some of what we do is complex and we have had to invest, but in any market you have to invest to take success from it.
"We've put a lot of effort into looking at what government wants to buy. Quite a lot of people have taken the services they already sell, slung them up on G-Cloud and looked at it as ‘if you build it, they will come'. But you've got to talk to departments."
The Cabinet Office said in a statement that it was trying hard to spread the success of G-Cloud to more suppliers.
"We have been working with regional communities to help connect suppliers to share their experiences," it said. "We are looking at more case studies to be able to help suppliers understand about buyers' needs. Now that the Digital Marketplace is in public beta we are also looking to provide suppliers with more detailed metrics such as how many times their service offerings have been viewed.
"We also know from user research that buyers do not often understand suppliers' service description. The Digital Marketplace will allow suppliers from G-Cloud 6 onwards to provide more focused and relevant information such as features and benefits."
Carrenza's Sutherland added that it is important that pressure is kept up on the government.
"It's a long-term process," he said. "If the numbers look like this in a year, it will be more of a ‘what have you been doing?' moment. But I am very pleased [CRN] is flagging this up because it is good that there is pressure on government procurement to change as much as there is pressure on vendors to do things differently.
"The press pointing out they really should be using this thing they built is a good way of making this happen."
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