Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Introducing the “10% group”

I was recently asked by Liam Maxwell (Cabinet Office CIO) to convene a group of cloudy SMEs that he could get direct feedback from. I have also been appointed to the European Cloud Partnership (ECP) steering board with the mandate of representing all British SMEs’ interests. With the help of my team I am collating the views, issues, troubles and successes of this group and feeding them back into Intellect, the Cabinet Office, G-Cloud programme and ECP.

In a recent call with Liam he suggested we call this collective the “10% group”, and on thinking about it further I think it is a great title for our virtual group.

Why 10%?

1. The Internet economy is accounts for at least 10% of British GDP according to Saul Klein, and that number is growing fast. We, the members of this little group, are representative of this new high-growth area. In the words of Stephen Kelly, “SMEs are the future of employment and tax revenue growth in Britain”.
2. Government’s stated aspiration is that 25% of public sector spend will eventually go to SMEs. The figures on what the proportion is currently varies, though personally I think the mid-teens figures are likely spin. 10% is probably realistic, but we want to grow that too!
3. When government buys from companies like us rather than the “usual suspects” (mega-corp systems administrators) through G-Cloud it typically costs only 10% of what they are used to paying.

If you are a principal of a SME that is going places in Cloud then please get in touch with Robin Pape at Memset Ltd (forename at memset dot com). The 10% group is not just about British companies either; Kate is the only SME representative European Cloud Partnership steering board. There are huge opportunities for Cloud companies in Europe, especially in the wake of Prism. Many European governments are also looking closely at G-Cloud.

By working together we can form the foundation of the new European cloud industry, while at the same time saving the desperately cash-strapped European governments huge sums and boosting the European economy. It is our time!

Ulterior motives

My ulterior motives in this are simple; I wish to enhance the European cloud industry and encourage the sort of adoption of SME cloud services by the public sector that we’ve witnessed with G-Cloud in the UK across the whole of Europe. I passionately believe that we should not be afraid of competing with each other, rather that if we can foster international excellence in low-cost, high-security, high-efficiency cloud services, whether IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, in Europe it will be to all our benefits.

The old guard (systems integrators etc.) are protectionist. They expend huge efforts to preserve dwindling revenues, especially from government. What they fail to understand is one of the foundation stones of my doctorate (which I’m currently writing up); that if you make something a lot cheaper, faster, better and more efficient people actually end up spending more resources on it, not less! This is commonly referred to as Jevon’s Paradox or the Rebound Effect (in environmentalism terms). ICT is the one area (I believe) where although the Rebound Effect will apply economically, it will not apply in terms of energy (that’s what my thesis is about). In short, if we do more for less, in the end-game we will all get much more!

This message should be especially poignant for Europe. The austerity measures have barely started biting; we are at the tip of the iceberg. The way we, Europe, will save the public purse is through technology. We will inevitably have to follow Estonia’s example and exploit ICT to save money. Those business who are not offering that, or who are unwilling to collaborate to achieve it, will die.

Getting involved

If you want to get involved please contact Robin Pape at Memset (you can guess his email address – we tend to just use first names ;). Robin is the Home Office’s ex-CIO and is now part of our little team. This is not just about British SMEs either. After last month’s ECP meeting I have come to the conclusion that SMEs need to work together across Europe, especially to dispel the view of many in high office that “SMEs don’t get cloud” – we’re the ones building it! I’m especially keen to get some Scandanavian SMEs on board as part of our virtual collective.

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