Interview: Jadu's Suraj Kika about the Government Digital Services, public procurement and G-Cloud

ITProPortal queried Suraj Kika, CEO of Enterprise Web content management system specialist Jadu, on some of the company's recent projects as well as his thoughts on the UK Government's G-Cloud initiative and how the company plans to expand over the next few years.

1) Give me a brief overview of Jadu

Jadu helps businesses, government organisations and higher education institutions all over the world to create and manage their online channels quickly, simply and cost effectively. As a global provider of Web Experience Management software, the company specialises in CMS, Forms, Portal and Mobile products for enterprise websites, intranets, extranets and mobile web apps.

We recently launched our "Spacecraft" digital agency, specialising in delivering large scale web applications. The Spacecraft team delivered the Manchester City Council responsive website which represents a step change in Local Government website design and has been extremely well received by the design community all over the world.

2) Please can you tell me a bit more about the company's technology?

The Jadu Universe Platform is a system designed to deliver "out of the box" web productivity tools for publishing, marketing and communications as well as data management and integration with back office systems. This is exemplified through the many transactional systems Jadu has deployed - an example of which is the City of Edinburgh Council website, which processes approximately £2 million in payments and 14,000 service requests on average, per month.

The platform features a developer framework that provides tools to build powerful digital services. Developers can leverage the out-of-the box workflow, security, publishing, reporting, logging and performance tools upon which they can build powerful applications. An example of this is the recent purchase of the Jadu Universe Platform by the Ministry of Justice for the HMCTS (Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service), where the platform is being implemented for one of the Government's exemplar digital services. More detailed news on this is planned for release in a few months' time.

The Jadu Universe technology is built upon the open source LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) framework and is widely adopted in local government and higher education. The Weejot.com service, is a pure cloud based (multi-tenant) mobile apps publishing system that enables non-technical business users to publish mobile apps installed from the web, in real-time to any device. Weejot.com technology also uses LAMP and Javascript/HTML5 for app delivery to devices.

3) Which sectors of local government and central government does Jadu work with?

Jadu provides hosted and managed software products for a range of organisations at a central and local government level. The platform powers many large government organisations,including the Ministry of Justice, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and more than 60 Local Authorities including City of Edinburgh Council, Newport City Council, Coventry City Council, Manchester City Council and Suffolk County Council. The platform has recently been purchased by York City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Angus Council and Warwick District Council.

Jadu offers its large central government customers senior consulting services on digital strategy using agile, agile software delivery and solution design including business requirements and user story management. Within Local Government, Jadu has a decade of experience in Channel Shift strategy and implementing end-to-end transactional services.

4) How do you think the Government's G-Cloud will develop over the next five years?

The Cloudstore has been and will continue to change the way government buys solutions and services. As a supplier with more than a decade's experience in commercial software for the government market, this is long overdue. Procurement processes are convoluted, expensive and often result in the wrong solution - particularly at so-called "high value". For Jadu, the Cloudstore has provided the beginnings of an easier way to do business, saving both parties cost while preserving choice and fair competition. We think that the next few years will see a dramatic shift in the way government purchases and runs its ICT programmes - but only if procurement culture begins to change - and this must be driven by Chief Executives and CIOs within all areas of government.

5) What do you think are the current barriers to the adoption of the G-Cloud?

One of the barriers has been education. Helping procurement teams understand that the Cloudstore is not another way to run a tender has been difficult. SMEs have a role to play here in guiding buyers, but Government needs to help senior management cascade knowledge and understanding to procurement and legal teams. We think GDS (Government Digital Services), with its resources and talent will really help here. We love that digital services will also be offered - our new "Spacecraft" agency, (as an example of a new business) will significantly benefit from having our skills and experience in delivering Digital Services, listed on the Cloudstore.

6) What is your perception of the role of SME's within the G-Cloud?

Jadu is proof that SMEs are seeing value through the Cloudstore, as well as large IT organisations and Service Integrators. There has been a lot of press about large organisations winning contracts (IBM recently for example) - but stories like ours are starting to surface as well. We think the technology press can offer a positive impact here - reporting the good stories to provide a balanced picture of what is really happening. Cloudstore is not a way to buy cheap stuff, its a way to buy intelligently, re-use best practice and implement a smarter digital toolset of modern applications.

Jadu believes that real opportunities are being created for SMEs through the Cloudstore. There is no longer a need to spend millions of pounds with large IT services companies for web solutions, as these can now be implemented quicker, better and faster by SMEs in the cloud. The G-Cloud has provided a great platform for any of the public sector to conduct business with SMEs. While removing the mandate to follow a formal tender process saves time and money, the assurance and accreditation procedures of the framework provides the confidence needed for organisations to make selections through the G-Cloud.

7) How is Jadu planning to expand over the next five years

Jadu is growing internationally. We started up in the USA two years ago and have established a thriving US Higher Education customer base and in a few weeks, we start up in Australia withJadu Asia Pacific.

From a product and service strategy perspective, we are investing heavily in four areas:

The Jadu Universe Platform is undergoing continual significant enhancement and we are building in powerful tools for enterprises to manage their web applications, content workflows and transactions. We're focused on enhanced user experience both for the end user (the public) and the administrative user (the graphical user experience) and importantly, ensuring that these great experiences are available on all devices.

We're also planning some significant announcements and upgrade releases in the next twelve months - these reflect our accelerated growth and rate of customer acquisition.We're growing our capability significantly and have an aggressive hiring strategy through 2013 and 2014. We're looking for agile software and test engineers, project managers and any entrepreneurial individuals with a passion for technology - we're looking for the business leaders, technologists and developers for building tomorrow's digital landscape.

Mobile web - our Weejot.com service, launched just eighteen months ago, already has more than 3,000 users and in partnership with PayPal, the recent launch of 'Weejot Donate' for charities and Third Sector giving, has proved highly successful. Weejot.com was one of the first services purchased through G-Cloud by Suffolk County Council - it's now the market leader in mobile apps in Local Government.

Finally, we are in the business of building businesses. We've started up two new businesses with Weejot.com and Spacecraft. Watch this space for some major disruptive changes in 2014.