Discover the latest trends and changes in the public sector in the UK with our comprehensive quarterly report. Stay ahead of the curve and make informed decisions for your B2G marketing strategies.
The COVID pandemic has had far-reaching consequences, including the manner in which business is conducted. The public sector has not been spared and, in fact, has come under even closer scrutiny as people demand greater transparency and more accountability for its actions.
The government has responded with a Procurement Bill that champions new technology and drives procurement changes that favour SMEs and emphasise social value. It’s no longer about the cheapest price, but rather the overall package, including ethical supply chains, green production methods, and community support and investment.
Buyers in the public sector must be aware of and able to optimise rapid advances in technology that transform eSourcing, eProcurement, and supply chain management. Key public sector trends in 2023 to stay on top of purchasing processes are listed below.
One of the biggest emerging trends in the public sector is social value.
Traditionally, tenders are awarded to the supplier with the lowest price – Most Advantageous Tender (MAT). Focus has shifted and now tenders are awarded to the supplier that has the most to offer – Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT). Economically advantageous tenders must include social value, which takes the welfare and well-being of local communities into account.
Social value priorities
In the current economic environment, some social value initiatives are more advantageous than others. Marketers would do well to pay attention to public sector employment trends to tailor their initiatives to the social and economic needs of the communities in which they operate.
The most common needs include:
Food and transport
The cost of living is reaching epic proportions, with the price of food and petrol rocketing. Social value initiatives that ease the burden on citizens could add more weight to proposals than others. For example, a community vegetable garden could feed at-risk families and excess produce can be sold to raise funds for other projects.
The NHS is overburdened and waiting times for treatment are increasing almost exponentially. For instance, in July 2023, 7.68 million were waiting for treatment and the average wait for treatment was 14 weeks.
According to public sector outsourcing trends, private healthcare providers are trying to pick up the shortfall but it’s like rowing against the current. Social value initiatives that pitch in, like sponsored mobile clinics, can be the difference between winning a tender and going back to the end of the drawing board.
Keep an eye on social value initiatives that focus on climate change.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The government has committed to spending £100 million on AI development to enhance procurement processes. So, while many eSourcing platforms already use (AI) to simplify and streamline certain tasks, we’re going to see a significant uptick as public sector buyers choose to automate more demanding functions. Pundits estimate that the push to increase the adoption of AI systems has the potential to triple productivity growth rates. Marketers who want to capitalise on digital experience trends in the public sector should take special note of this.
Keep an eye on Machine Learning (ML) as one of the primary areas of focus.
Cybersecurity is always a concern when sensitive data is stored digitally. The concern isn’t misplaced as hackers use increasingly sophisticated methods to launch cyberattacks. The public procurement sector relies on sensitive data from buyers and suppliers, which is why it’s investing in cybersecurity development and introducing new security regulations with which all parties in the supply chain must comply.
Keep an eye on cybersecurity systems that identify, manage, and analyse risks.
Blockchain technology stores data in blocks that are connected via a chain. Each chain catalogues the progress of a specific item. For example, individual blockchains store data related to a single supplier or tender. The data in each block can’t be changed, which makes it one of the most accurate records of data that is saved chronologically so you can literally track a single transaction from start to finish.
Keep an eye on blockchain technology’s transparency capabilities.
Environmentally friendly business practices are essential in today’s world where climate change is such an important topic. There are many drives to reduce waste and pollution and the public sector is determined to play a proactive role by encouraging sustainable practices in procurement, for example, low- or no-carbon manufacturing and production, and using recycled and recyclable packaging.
Keep an eye on new regulations and compliance criteria.
Big data has been hovering on the edges of public sector procurement for some time. Could 2023 be the year it makes its presence well-known? The government certainly thinks so. It’s predicted that big data will play an increasingly important role in the public sector to enhance decision-making, development and innovation in services, products, and applications, and reduce costs while growing the bottom line.
Analytics software enables those involved in purchasing to drill deep down into big data and use the information to provide greater insight into functions like inventory, quality, and compliance management.
Keep an eye on predictive analytics and advanced market intelligence reports.
To borrow from a social media meme, if you’re not mobile you don’t exist. The government has taken the hint and is making a concerted effort to build secure and reliable mobile procurement systems. Hybrid workplaces are becoming increasingly common, even in the public sector. This means that anyone in the procurement team must have access to the hub or portal through which sourcing and procurement processes are managed.
Team members should be able to enter the system remotely from their mobile devices – laptops, mobile phones, and tablets – and carry out tasks just as if they were in the office. This includes creating orders, evaluating supplier performance, reviewing analytics and reports, and tracking orders in progress.
It’s essential that mobile platforms also comply with transparency regulations and use the most advanced cybersecurity systems possible.
Keep an eye on wearables’ growing presence in purchasing.
Live or Digital?
We’re so used to living life digitally that seems odd when we take a step back and embrace in-person interactions. This is what’s happening in public sector procurement as buyers and suppliers are choosing to attend live events like Procurex National (and Scotland, Wales, and Ireland).
While the movement isn’t exactly en masse, it’s worth adapting your marketing strategy – and arranging your schedule – to attend or even host a handful of live events a year. BiP Solutions maintains an up-to-date events diary that enables you to stay on top of event marketing trends in the public sector.
Don’t worry if all of this seems a bit much to take in. Cadence Marketing has a crack team of marketing experts specialising in public procurement who can design a marketing strategy that suits your business and incorporates key trends to ensure you stay current with changes in the public sector.
Simply book a free consultation with one of our specialists and discover how public procurement marketing trends can be shaped to your business and help you achieve your goals.