RFP Opportunity – Scottish Enterprise : Building a Platform-Based Digital Economy

Scottish Enterprise has an active RFP that calls for a 'Platform' approach to growing the nation's digital economy

Building a Digital Scotland

Scottish Enterprise has published this RFP for ‘Target Operations Model – Specialist Consultancy.

There are essentially two main component parts to the requirements:

  • A standard business transformation exercise – Development of a future state ‘To Be’ target architecture and roadmap for how to get there.
  • A strategy for growing Scotland’s digital economy – This transformation is intended to achieve a major acceleration of Scotland’s economy, particularly through enabling more adoption of digital.

In addition to the transformation consulting requirements a number of high level tasks identify the second part, notably Achieving greater economic, social and community impact with more clients supported to do more”, achieved through:

  • “Coherent and understandable products and services provided to businesses, resulting in substantially reduced administrative and business support management and overhead costs.
  • A set of recommendations and actions on how to integrate private sector delivery partners in the future such as Chambers of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Scotland.”

and these are framed within an overall goal of:

The Services must contribute to the achievement of Scotland’s Digital Strategy.

The overall economic strategy the RFP is intended to realized is described in detail in this report – Enterprise and Skills Board: strategic plan.

Headlined by Scotland’s productivity challenge, it lays out a plan for addressing the situation, in particular through enabling Scotland’s businesses to harness more innovative business models, achieved through greater adoption of technology and modern working practices.

Building a Platform Economy

The single design that can meet all the requirements as one, unifying idea and architecture, is the Platform Business Model.

This has emerged as the business model that all experts agree is the de facto template approach for 21st century digital business models, one that employs an ecosystem marketplace model to unify multiple, independent resources into a single value network.

As a model it can be applied to many different scenarios, and relevant to this RFP could include:

Government as a Platform

Applying it to Government IT and business process design is referred to as ‘GaaP’ – Government as a Platform.

To the point about this RFP implementing the ScotGov digital strategy, the use of GaaP is specifically defined in that strategy, calling for “Deploy common technologies that can be built and procured once rather than multiple times” and also “Mandate the use of common platforms and infrastructure”, mirroring what the RFP states requirement for: Common capabilities which might enable better business understanding and support.

The digital strategy continues with a number of GaaP related objectives, in particular:

“Create common digital platforms for services that will encourage Scottish public and voluntary sector organisations to innovate in the delivery of public services.”

Again this mirrors a key RFP requirement:

“A set of recommendations and actions on how to integrate private sector delivery partners in the future such as Chambers of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Scotland.”

Fundamentally GaaP is a Target Architecture, exactly what the RFP is asking for.

Small Business Digital Platforms

Furthermore the primary challenge that Scotland’s economy faces is that many businesses especially SMEs are not yet embracing, mastering and using the latest digital technologies.

This was documented in research from Microsoft that showed only 17 – 19% have invested in e-commerce sites and Cloud services, and very recently validated from my own personal experience. This week on a visit to the town of Lanark, it was identified to me that as many as 60% of the local shops don’t even have a web site!

Again a Platform approach is the best solution to this need. Our planned Digital Tourism portal for the town will embed SaaS applications for local merchants, providing them each what they need via one single system, and critically, one that is part of a portal that serves to generate demand, through tourism visitors, to all of the SMEs as one collective entity.

Otherwise they each have to go through the labourious process of sourcing their own web site and also promoting it, a task that most small businesses simply aren’t skilled for nor can they afford.

Platform-based Learning

The same architecture and platform can also be used to address the other main dimension identified in the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Plan – The education required to inform Scotland’s business leaders about the innovative new business models they can utilize, like Platforms, and support them in their adoption.

A digital marketplace approach is critical to the success of this aspect too, as Government indeed academia too lacks the knowledge in-house to meet this need, but it does exist across the business community, particularly among digital entrepreneurs.

Our Platform plans also include a ‘Social E-Learning Hub’, the marketplace model applied to tutoring and business mentoring, a ‘peer to peer’ approach where entrepreneurs and business leaders can learn directly from their industry peers.

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