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Accreditation of ICT Suppliers

8.

The successful contractor is expected to ‘sell’ at full cost the Standard to non-regional ICT businesses during the period prior to 31st March 2011 as part of the process of making the Standard self-sustaining and viable.

The project will use the ICT’s Innovation Estimation Potential Tool (IPET) to measure the capability of ICT SMEs prior to their engaging with the project and then repeat this exercise a minimum of 12 months later to record the difference. The difference between each recorded score should demonstrate the level of improvement experienced by the ICT SME in its capacity and capability of manage innovation.

Background

The ICT Supplier Standard project was initially funded as a pilot following the 2003 report by SQW into the needs of the West Midlands ICT cluster. SQW highlighted the importance of there being a community of interest for regional ICT SMEs and, in particular, drew attention to the value of an accreditation scheme and the establishment of a regional brand. SQW also pointed to the consequential benefits of showcasing sub sectors of excellence, the value of improving links between sectors, and the increased credibility of organisations that had adopted good management practices in addition to possessing technological competences.

The SQW report provided evidence to support the view that the then market mechanisms and standards schemes were not delivering an optimal quality of service by ICT suppliers to ICT purchasers. These deficiencies were leading to negative effects in the region's economy and, most specifically, the success of ICT supplier SMEs. Furthermore, while imbalances in markets are often the result of discrepancies in the relative sizes of organisations (with the smaller organisations impacted most), for the ICT marketplace in particular there are additional imbalances based on differences in company scopes and depths of technical knowledge and the ICT sector’s relatively rapid rate of change compared to other technical domains.

The ICT Supplier Standard project was established to address these market deficiencies and imbalances by helping the SME-scale ICT supplier (but not necessarily exclusively the SME) with new, accessible and ‘right scale’ means to establish and recognise their market credibility and then to improve it.

Since the SQW report, further evidence has come to light demonstrating the failings of the industry and damaging impacts. The e-skills Adroit report published in January 2007 demonstrated that the impact of ICTs embedded in business practice within the UK economy could potentially increase productivity by 10%: representing a potential GVA uplift of £3 Billion for the West Midlands. AWM subsequently commissioned Adroit to produce a report (November 2007) focused on the West Midlands which (i) confirmed the potential GVA impact but also (ii) highlighted that the region’s ICT sector was not fit for purpose in so far that it was ill equipped to offer high quality objective and professional advice. Also in 2007, the Costello et al report on ICT Adoption commissioned by the ICT Cluster reported that the benefits of ICT adoption promoted by the Adroit report were not being exploited by ICT businesses. In other words, the very industry that was required to deliver the benefits of ICTs to the wider economy which would help to close the region’s GVA gap of £10 Billion was itself not equipped to undertake this strategically important role.

The ICT Supplier Standard therefore was, and remains, very timely for the ICT sector in the West Midlands. However, the Standard needs to be strengthened by the development of a further three segments. The three segments already developed provide coverage to approximately 40% of the region’s ICT companies that are relevant to the standard. The addition of the three segments to be developed by this project will increase the coverage of the ICT Supplier Standard to approximately 85% of candidate regional ICT SMEs.

Advantage West Midlands Form ADV-09 Issue 02INVITATION TO TENDERPage 20 of 35

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