Cloud computing is heralded by many as the future of IT, but it's an occasionally obtuse subject despite the government wanting the public sector to embrace cloud migration.
However, selling cloud services to the public sector, often seen as stuck in the analogue age of paper documents and Windows XP, can be a bit of a challenge even for hardened IT suppliers.
So, in a creative attempt to solve this, the Government Digital Service (GDS) has created three fictional 'government buyers' for cloud vendors to target.
With names as everyday as Gareth Holmes, Patricia Greene and Jess Clarke these are three characters that have been assigned persona-specific ‘buys', ‘hopes' and ‘fears' when it comes to cloud procurement so vendors know how to pitch their products accordingly.
GDS also indicated how evangelical the three are when it comes to technology, procurement processes and desired outcomes.
I just don't want to get into trouble
First up is Gareth, a tech architect working for the government. Gareth is a cloud buyer who has good technical knowledge but needs a helping hand with procurement, according to Mark Branigan, a researcher at the Cabinet Office and Gov.uk blogger.
"Gareth wants a straightforward process he can follow which will reassure him that he's following the right procurement steps," he said.
Poor Gareth is made out to be a bit of a feckless coward, desiring "short and convenient processes" and shunning anything that requires innovative thinking and investment in time.
Still, he's noted for his rock climbing and love of the great outdoors, so perhaps he's simply wasted in the stuffy confines of government IT.
Two chickens and an eye for procurement
Meanwhile Patricia (pictured right) is an IT procurement specialist but lacks Gareth's technical prowess. She hopes to end up with the right cloud service to suit her department's needs, and fears the opposite result.
Branigan, perhaps erring on the side of patronising, explained that customers like Patricia need to "understand how services are described by suppliers so that she can find services that will meet her requirements".
GDS felt it was important to note that Patricia enjoys spending time looking after her two chickens, something V3 was not aware of as having a direct influence on cloud procurement desires.
'She enjoys Zumba and vampire books'
Last, but by no means least, is Jess (pictured), a project manager who cares about services that are delivered on time, on budget and provide direct outcomes.
Branigan paints Jess as an uncompromising customer. "Any delays caused by a procurement process are unacceptable to her, and she is very price sensitive," he said.
Jess does not like to waste her time understanding technology or procurement, either, instead preferring to dedicate herself to Zumba and vampire books.
"Jess needs a service which allows her to very quickly analyse her options and find the right product. She does not want to concern herself with the intricacies of the procurement process, and relies on others around her to look after this part," he said.
It's interesting to see the government exploring ways to simplify the process of selling cloud and IT services to the public sector, particularly given the focus on digitalising public services.
However, Branigan added: "We know that users don't always fit neatly into boxes and we test these personas regularly against the buyers we talk to in the lab."
With a get-out clause like that, V3 is left wondering whether the whole exercise was really worth it. We are, however, curious to learn more about this 'lab' Branigan mentions.
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