CCS tech chief: ‘We need one marketplace for the future’

Written by Sam Trendall on 30 November 2017 in News

Crown Marketplace will ultimately supplant Digital Marketplace, technology category director asserts

The technology procurement chief of the Crown Commercial Service has indicated that the Digital Marketplace will ultimately be superseded by the Crown Marketplace, and that maintaining both as separate entities would not be “sensible”.

Typically characterised as an Amazon-style online marketplace through which the public sector will be able to buy a comprehensive range of goods and services, the Crown Marketplace is currently in the test phase of its development. There is not yet a definitive date for its intended full-scale launch, but it is scheduled to go live during 2019. 

The Crown Marketplace is being developed by CCS in conjunction with the Government Digital Service, with its design drawing heavily on some of the patterns and models established in the creation and maintenance of the Digital Marketplace. Representatives of GDS have previously indicated that both platforms could co-exist and serve discrete purposes.

But Niall Quinn, strategic category director – technology at CCS, told PublicTechnology that he believes the government should proceed with one single marketplace, and that GDS “probably realise now” that it is unlikely that two separate platforms will remain in play once the Crown Marketplace is operational.

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“I do not think two marketplaces is sensible, we need one marketplace for the future,” Quinn said. “We are working with both teams, and we are working to design both at the same time. We are looking forward for the next 18 months with the Digital Marketplace, and working backwards from 18 months ahead on the Crown Marketplace.”

He added: “We have been working very closely with GDS around elements of the Digital Marketplace. A lot of the work we are doing with is to standardise its patterns and make them reusable. It is about making sure that it is cooperation, and not competition.”

Quinn’s comments were made about a week in advance of CCS confirming that the current G-Cloud 9 framework would not be retendered next year as planned, and would instead be extended by up to 12 months, taking its potential finish date to 22 May 2019. This news followed on from similar extensions to the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2 and Cyber Security Services 2 framework agreements.

In a statement explaining the G-Cloud extension, CCS said that the decision “is not being taken lightly”. The extra months “will allow time for CCS and GDS to deliver a revolutionary transformation to the platform to meet more user needs – both central government and [the] wider public sector”.

CCS added: “Previously, we have undertaken continuous and regular refreshes for each of the [three] individual agreements. However, this hasn’t always given us adequate time for the Digital Marketplace to be developed beyond simply the refresh of these agreements, to meet identified user needs. More time is now needed to transform the platform and make it scalable and more flexible, enabling more framework services and improved customer and supplier functionality based on what user needs have identified.”

Look out on PublicTechnology in the coming days for a full write-up of Quinn’s plans for public sector technology procurement.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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