Category Archives: Business Intelligence

G-Cloud and agile briefings

By Tony Collins

On 22 November the Government Digital Service is giving a briefing for potential G-Cloud suppliers. It’ll be streamed live.

Officials say the briefing will be particularly useful to suppliers whose employees have never participated in a government tender.

At the ApplyCamp, officials will explain G-Cloud, steps in the OJEU procurement process, what information potential G-Cloud suppliers need to give, and what happens next.

The event is particularly aimed at Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Software as a Service and other specialist cloud service suppliers. It will be held at Google, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9TQ – 3pm – 5pm.

Agile TeaCamp – 24 November

Between 4pm and 6pm at the Cafe Zest, House of Fraser, Victoria St, London, there will be talks on agile. Derrick Cameron, MD of software consultancy Eximium and COO of agile software house Procession will speak on “Becoming the Intelligent Buyer”.  Chris Parsons, a “freelance thinker, coder and trainer” will talk about the e-petitions project and the aims of the Agile Delivery Network.

Teacamps in November and December – Government Digital Service

Will the government’s ICT implementation plan finally lock on to the SME solutions it misses?

By David Bicknell

The  government has the potential to leverage its huge buying power in the ICT marketplace. However, the government’s procurement of ICT has in many cases failed to deliver economies of scale and failed to deliver value for money to the taxpayer.

So that is why the latest ICT implementation plan has an objective for the reform of government procurement by centralising common goods and services spend by funding improvements in technology, processes and government wide procurement resources to better manage total procurement spend and government wide standards. 

The government insists it is therefore committed to become a single and effective ICT customer, leveraging buying power whilst remaining flexible on how it procures.

As part of that process the  government says it will create a more open, transparent and competitive ICT marketplace embracing open standards and open source that will remove barriers to SME participation in public sector procurement to create a fairer and more competitive marketplace.

It is important that these barriers to SME participation are removed, because these smaller innovative companies have solutions that the private sector recognises and which will pay to acquire, but which the government seems to miss.

One, ChangeBASE, which specialises in automated application analysis, remediation and conversion for platforms including Windows 7 and 8, Internet Explorer 8 and 9, Terminal Server/Remote Desktop Session Host, VDI, and Application Virtualisation, has just been snapped up by Quest Software  to help Quest become a single source to help organisations take advantage of technology changes to benefit both IT and users alike.

Another UK SME, Procession, continues to try and make the government aware of its technology for the creation of business application software that is both rapidf and agile. Procession’s CEO David Chassels recently wrote to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude to try and engage with the government in its goal of becoming a better and more intelligent buyer of ICT. It also plans to speak at a forthcoming “teacamp”, the latest of a series of informal meeting places to stimulate ideas and discussion about government work in ICT.

A third, BCS, provides a global universal library subscription service that provides monthly audit data analysis and optimisation for devices, making audit data much easier to manage and understand. It has also created a carbon footprint library that enables organisations to establish a desktop estate baseline for CO2 information so that they can establish and manage software influence on CO2 output and reduce their carbon offset purchase requirements.

There are countless other SMEs offering innovative solutions to help deliver value for money for the taxpayer that the government still probably has no knowledge about, and which have long since given government procurement up as a lost cause.  The  government says it will create a more open, transparent and competitive ICT marketplace that embraces open standards and open source and that removes barriers to SME participation in public sector procurement.

As they say, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

Delivering the agility to bring the corporate network to life

By David Bicknell 

A recent blog  asked whether businesses need the IT department when it comes to purchasing cloud services for business units. After all, the piece suggested, the Internet is all about eliminating the middleman from the transaction.

The same argument could apply to non–Cloud apps where SMEs are increasingly providing turn-on-a-sixpence like agility to deliver apps and end-to-end solutions to business units, by-passing internally-focused IT departments that look cautious, defensive and too eager to pull up their ‘it’s not strategic’ comfort blanket.

In fact, ‘informal buyers’ make five times as many software buying decisions as the IT people who are supposed to be in charge, according to Forrester. According to a Q4 2010 Forrester survey, 69 percent of 3,000 business managers reserved part of their operations budgets to buy tech services directly, rather than through IT.

Faced with IT’s frequent intransigence in embracing new innovative solutions provided by SMEs, and citing their need to move quickly and with agility, business units are insisting that they want end-to-end solutions that truly understand business problems and solve them, meeting immediate business needs today, not in six months’ time once IT has a done another strategic review.

Buyers want to take advantage of the rich innovation offered by specialist SMEs who probably understand the business’s needs – and what’s more, relate to it – far better than the internal IT department, which too often understands technology, but not often enough, its own business.

Those specialist SMEs include Mvine, which gives business people all the tools they need to work in partnership across corporate boundaries, productively and securely. Indeed, Mvine is  finding that increasingly the business is not looking for IT-driven point solutions with a technology-led tag, such as collaboration, but a flexible, end-to-end platform that understands and speaks the business’s language, while delivering on the business’s multiple requirements, from document management to business intelligence. This approach facilitates effective communication and collaboration with customers and enables closer engagement with both partners and employees, outside the corporate silos, but still inside a secure, trusting environment. In the insurance world Exvine is attracting interest amongst business executives who quickly grasp the flexible, end-to-end capabilities of the platform and are impressed by the speed of deployment, usually only 4-6 weeks from concept to full production system. The rapid implementation, thanks to Cloud delivery, and flexible design features are proving to offer a refreshing alternative to traditional IT delivery approaches, which have often been slow and costly. 

Mvine’s latest innovation, 6.0, available to both Mvine and Exvine customers, provides a number of feature enhancements including compatibility with new technology such as tablets, improved search capabilities, data exports to Outlook, the creation of sales reports, security switches, multi-chapter video enablement, improved image quality and digital assets and event functionality.

What Mvine is now offering is a vision for the future of social business, creating a rich data store on companies and people, complete with email, videoconferencing, telephony and links to social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter that weaves a tapestry of relevant corporate communications including recent events, conversations, video, company updates and pictures: an interactive database of information and communication to replace the static spreadsheet. Mvine enables employees to get to know each other better, without exposing the organisation to the risks of social networks. It’s local , not social networking.

And because business intelligence is now so important to companies, customers can create reports of what their users are doing with the site in real-time. Information created, detailing data such as age, gender, frequency to the site, downloads, location, job function, can then be used to produce reports and help target marketing campaigns and generate sales leads, providing a bespoke service to customers and intelligent approach to understanding your user base.

The Mvine platform also has the capability to pull in and harness a wealth of data from physical appliances and fixtures, such as light fittings and plug sockets, entering this information ‘from the Internet of things’ into the platform’s BI tool for a widening list of uses, from environmental purposes through to practical maintenance enquiries. Such pure data, duly tuned or distilled so that extraneous ‘noise’ is filtered out, is the currency that enables organisations to make better business decisions.

Why is all this so important? Because in future instead of pockets of knowledge, companies will have one central nervous system that unifies every piece of corporate information and fundamentally changes how companies do business, unlocking the vast amount of information generated by everyday operations and making it instantly available. These ‘Activity Streams’, as Gartner calls them,  humanise every business process inside a company, adding a social layer to data and opening up real-time collaboration.