The Digital Marketplace, the new home for G-Cloud services and the Digital Services Framework (DSF), is set to go live by the end of September, the government has revealed.
As a phased project, the first stage of the Digital Marketplace has focused on making it easier for buyers to find services that meet their needs.
The government plans to transition G-Cloud services from CloudStore to Digital Marketplace by the end of August 2014, and if it goes smoothly, it will switch off CloudStore at the end of next month.
During the four-week transition period, customers will be able to choose to buy through either site, as suppliers should have active accounts on both sites.
The next stage of the Digital Marketplace will focus on improving the functionality for suppliers.
Analyst house TechMarketView said that Digital Marketplace confirms its thinking that the Cabinet Office is pushing for a centralised approach to procurement. It has previously raised questions about whether putting the G-Cloud and DSF together would improve the user experience for buyers, unless the Digital Marketplace presents clear navigation routes and clearly articulates the objectives of each framework.
“The Cabinet Office is optimistic that the Digital Marketplace will give better ‘user experience’ having consulted potential users, such as heads of procurement, contracts managers and project managers. However, we are yet to see equivalent input from the supplier community,” said TechMarketView analyst Michael Larner.
“Indeed, suppliers are keen to understand how the Digital Marketplace can help them understand buyer behaviour."
He added: “G-Cloud has not achieved its full potential as a springboard for the public sector to switch to cloud services. We are concerned that merely amalgamating the frameworks inside the Digital Marketplace will do little to alter the status quo.”
Government buyers have been encouraged to try out the new Digital Marketplace and to give feedback via [email protected].
The latest figures and testimonials from SMEs show that the public sector is failing to make best use of SMEs available to them through nearly 100 live frameworks, including G-Cloud and DSF.