CRM: CloudStore launch to provide greater inroads into government market?

CRM: CloudStore launch to provide greater inroads into government market?

The CloudStore has opened, sitting at the heart of the UK Government's G-Cloud strategy. But there are some surprising CRM vendor omissions...

There have been various formal attempts to roll out CRM - citizen relationship management - to the public sector in the past, but frankly none that have been particularly successful. The last big push under New Labour was allocated to John Prescott, which as one Whitehall wag put it at the time “shows how seriously we’re taking that”.
 
But with all of public sector ICT spending and deployment in the throes of revolution and the emphasis placed on a ‘Cloud First’ policy, could the chance finally be here for CRM to make greater inroads into the government market?
 
Yesterday saw the opening of the CloudStore. The CloudStore is at the heart of the government’s G-Cloud strategy to revolutionise the way the public sector procures and deploys ICT. The CloudStore is effectively an App Store for government from which public sector buyers can select pre-accredited Cloud services providers.
 
“The launch is an important milestone in the government’s ICT strategy to deliver savings and an IT system fit for the 21st century. Simply stated, purchasing services from CloudStore will be quicker, easier, cheaper and more transparent for the public sector and suppliers alike,” said Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.
 
Interested Cloud services vendors have had since late last year to submit their offerings for inclusion, with a submission deadline extended twice to cope with demand. Over the weekend the store opened its virtual doors with 258 suppliers making it onto the approved catalogue with some familiar names and a couple of surprises in the mix.
Surprise omissions
 
Familiar names include a number of big brand CRM suppliers, including Microsoft, Sage and SAP. More surprising is the omission of both Oracle and Salesforce.com – at least ‘in person’.  
 
While Oracle itself is not present, RightNow Technologies with its CX offering is, so that’s turned out to be a fortuitous buy by Larry Ellison. RightNow has a strong track record in the US Federal Computing market which is also working to a Cloud First model.
 
The Oracle CRM On Demand offering is also listed, provided by a third party, in this case Atos Consulting. The same applies to Sugar CRM and Zoho CRM, which are available via apto solutions and Arcus Global.
 
Perhaps the most surprising omission is Salesforce.com which is not present despite its stated public sector ambitions and its successes in the US. The lack of a UK data centre may be partly to be blame, something which will be rectified later this year according to current plans.
 
Last year Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff caused a stir when he openly criticised the direction of the UK government’s Cloud thinking following a meeting at the Cabinet Office. Once the G-Cloud strategy document was published, his views were more favourable.

Salesforce.com Professional Services are listed in the catalogue, provided by Fujitsu Services while Arcus Global is providing PaaS Development Services based on Force.com which also features on the list of services provided by Grove Information Systems.
 
The non-appearance of some vendors in this first listing does not mean they will not eventually appear. A second version of the catalogue is already planned to appear in the next few months.
 
G-Cloud Programme manager Chris Chant stated recently: “My expectation is that from Easter the second iteration of the framework will be out. This time it will enable us to add new suppliers on a monthly basis. That really for me sets the scene for things: we’ll have a living framework and dynamic procurement.”

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