I noticed this article appear on The Register this afternoon. Caught my interests as it’s crosses tech and travel industries.
The main gist of this is that Network Rail, the organisation responsible for rail infrastructure in Great Britain, has changed it’s IT procurement strategy, creating a framework with 5 massive players able to bid for the work in the future.
No doubt dealing with just 5 large organisations is helpful to whoever is managing contracts at Network Rail, who up until now may have had over 250 different IT suppliers.
The questions immediately occurring in my mind are:
- Does this risk stifling of innovation? By excluding smaller, agile companies from participating, does it run the risk of NR’s IT becoming dominated by expensive, white elephant, gold-plated mega-systems that try to boil the sea?
- Do the cost savings from easier contract management actually weigh up against the threat of an oligopoly developing, which could force up the price for IT services? It’s unlikely that all 5 suppliers in the framework would bid for every tender or work package, maybe two or three would?
- How does this line up with one of the alleged benefits of rail privatisation: the dismantling of the BR monolith would allow entrepreneurial organisations to operate in the sector, this is something which has probably only had limited success and then only in specific areas.
At the end of the day, it’s public money that Network Rail is spending here. Hmm…