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The biggest single risk facing any business entering the public sector… that they become lost in the process, and do not maintain focus on the particular customer that needs the kind of product and solution that they can offer.

I’ll give you two examples, one showing what works, and one showing what doesn’t.

Firstly, access to frameworks. Being on a framework agreement is often seen as an essential requirement to sell to the public sector. For many companies that is right. However, its a huge mistake to bid on every framework that you might be qualified to join. The question you have to ask is: do the kinds of customer that I am targeting use this particular framework to buy my particular product or service?

Most public sector frameworks are available to every authority to use. But in practice the framework may only actually be used by a particular part of the sector, or indeed only by some individual departments. A good example of this is the Commoditised IT Hardware and Software (CITHS) framework agreement. This was set up by Buying Solutions in 2010 for the provision of, well, exactly what the title says. It was intended to be a primary route to market for authorities to use. However, in practice its adoption varied widely across the public sector and one area in particular: Police and Criminal Justice, elected to use an alternative framework called Sprint II (a controversial decision at the time, see link for details).

The result, if you were a product vendor targeting the police sector, you would have been wasting your time chasing business on the CITHS framework.

Secondly, lets consider an example of what works: Blackberry.

Although Blackberry’s overall corporate performance has been disastrous for the last few years, there remains one part of the market that they dominate: secure mobile email for the public sector. They focussed relentlessly on meeting a specific public sector requirement: accessing email on a mobile device in a secure way. By meeting the security and compliance standards that were set out at the time (and designing their service to be compliant from the outset), they have achieved an overwhelmingly dominant position in the delivery of secure email to the UK government (along with a large number of other national governments). This recent infographic shows the extent of this dominance.

[caption id="attachment_663" align="alignright" width="197"]Blackberry dominates secure mobile email Blackberry dominates secure mobile email[/caption]


However, Blackberry don’t appear on any specific public sector framework. They are procured almost exclusively via resellers, mobile operators or systems integrators who do supply to government. They have consciously adopted a strategy of partnering and subcontracting, and have been extraordinarily successful in doing so.

Winning in the public sector requires continuous effort over long periods of time. Successful companies maintain their focus on the particular solutions that they can offer, and consciously avoid the many distractions that come along the way. That’s why there are 13,000 suppliers registered on Cloudstore, but only 300 have actually taken an order.

What’s your public sector focus?

Reviewing your approach to selling in the public sector?  Kelvin has advised some of the most successful companies in public sector IT on market strategy, tender submission, bid presentation and pricing.  Why not contact Kelvin for a one hour presentation on the strategic opportunities that exist to transform your business results in the public sector.