Mobile operator O2 has been making a concerted effort of late to bolster its appeal to public sector IT buyers through the rollout of its Future Fund initiative.
The scheme saw O2 award several local councils thousands of pounds worth of grants to fund innovative IT projects that would enhance the day-to-day life of their communities.
The company also recently secured a place on seven out of 10 lots on the Government Procurement Services' Public Services Network (PSN) framework. It then followed this up with the launch of a dedicated public sector business unit.
IT Pro caught up with Billy D'Arcy, the managing director of O2's newly formed public sector unit, who said the firm is banking on new recruits and partnerships to make its push into local and central government a success.
Q: Why has O2 decided to set up a public sector business now?Our main rationale for moving into this space is because we recognise there is huge growth potential [for our business] in the public sector.
We have previously been excluded from [tapping into that] because we haven't been on the right frameworks.
A couple of years ago, we didn't have the capability [to address that], but now we do.We recognise there is huge growth potential for our business in the public sector. Our unified communications organisations is now a year old, and we...now know we can draw on part of that organisation to support our public sector work.
We also recognised that the public sector is culturally very different to the enterprise and B2B market. They have different procurement practices, the engagement we have is very different, and the sales cycles are very different too. So, we needed to tailor our approach to that.
Q: Are there any particular growth ambitions for the business you can share with us?[We are going to be] as aggressive as we need to be to get as much business as we can in this market, and we can actually afford to be quite disruptive, because we have a lot of ground to make up.
We [do have dealings with the] public sector already. We deliver services to many of the police forces and local councils in the UK.
The revenue that we currently generate[from our existing work in the public sector], our ambition is, at the very minimum, is to achieve a four-fold revenue increase on that over the next three years.
Q: To achieve that, will you need to recruit any new staff or retrain your existing workforce?We've got some excellent resources in our business, but there are also some gaps as well...but what I don't want to do is just move the deckchairs around.
It's really important that we recruit good people, because the success of our public sector business will be determined by our execution, and if we don't have the right people, we won't execute well.
Over the last 12 months, I've been working on introducing some new talent into the business that will help us in future years, but clearly I need to now go deeper than that and bring on board people with more specific public sector skills.
Some of those skills will be around management resources, partnership resources and how we account manage those big ticket opportunities.
There will also be a significant focus on [bringing on board] people with local government [experience].
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