Friday, 11 April 2014

Digital government – the market in contempt

Dotted around central government and local government there are thousands of experienced and responsible buyers, among them people who buy IT hardware, software and services. They've been doing it for decades. They know what they're doing. They're not idiots.

It is sensible to collect their experience together. That way standards can be raised and mistakes avoided. It is sensible to share their experience. That cuts out wasteful, repetitive work – there's not much point 100 branches of government assessing the same product 100 times. It is sensible to create centralised "digital marketplaces" like the Digital Services framework, where suppliers will be made to compete on price and quality openly, in full view of the buying public.

In connection with which, please see Designing the Digital Marketplace, which was posted a few days ago on the Government Digital Service's digital marketplace blog and which discusses "some of the exciting new features and improvements we’re bringing to the Digital Marketplace":
... a major design goal is to reassure buyers that they’re buying the right thing, and to make sure buyers are supported throughout the buying process ...

A problem with the current CloudStore is that it’s tricky to find the same search result twice, because the search results are randomised. We’re working on making it easier to find the service you need by improving browsing and searching.

One way we’re doing that is by looking at language. The acronyms SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS mean something to those who know, but to those who are new to cloud services they are confusing. To help users understand the phrasing and categorisation, we’re looking at including a full phrase, an explanation of what it means, and some examples (the most popular) of what these services actually are (see screenshot below). But even with the full phrase, do our users know what “software as a service” means? (For those interested, Ivanka’s written previously about the importance of language.) ...
"... a major design goal is to reassure buyers that they’re buying the right thing"? Do GDS really believe that their colleagues in government who are professional buyers would buy something when they're not sure what it is?

"The acronyms SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS mean something to those who know, but to those who are new to cloud services they are confusing"? Do GDS really believe that their colleagues in government who are professional buyers are out there buying acronyms without knowing what they stand for?

"... even with the full phrase, do our users know what “software as a service” means? (For those interested, Ivanka’s written previously about the importance of language.)"? If someone doesn't know what "software as a service" means, what on earth are they doing buying SaaS? And do we really need Ivanka to tell us that language is important?

It is the thoughts expressed by language which are important. GDS, whose own record is not unblemished, might do well to rein in this thought that they're dealing with idiots when it comes to government buyers. And to the rest of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most in government are good people and certainly not idiots. Even GDS who have failed to become what is termed the "intelligent buyer" have people who do their best within their skill set. BUT it is the bosses who are misdirecting what needs to be done. My experience is truly shocking with clear lack of knowledge but also self interest driving some agendas at great cost to the taxpayer and I suspect anguish to the good people knowing something is not right. Time for accountability........working on it!



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