Friday, 29 July 2011

Government and IT- "A Recipe For Rip-Offs": Time For A New Approach

Post Adrian Burns
Parliament’s Public Administration Committee has issued a damning report on SMEs’ experience in pitching for Government contracts. Time and again successive governments have favoured large IT suppliers/Systems Integrators (SIs) who have taken advantage of SMEs’ innovative input only to drop them once a contract has been secured.

The findings sit uncomfortably alongside David Cameron’s ‘Enemies of Enterprise’ speech at his party’s 2011 spring conference, where the Prime Minister slammed “the public sector procurement managers who think that the answer to everything is a big contract with a big business and who shut out millions of Britain's small- and medium-sized companies from a massive potential market.”

"Millions of SMEs shut out from a massive potential market"

Points 39 and 42 from the report are worth quoting in full.
"39. SMEs approached us informally to express concerns based on their own experiences of subcontracting. We heard of cases where SIs had involved SMEs in the bidding process so they could demonstrate innovation, only for the SME to be dropped after award of contract. In some of these cases SMEs felt that they have provided innovative ideas which had then been exploited by the larger SIs. We were also told by SMEs that by subcontracting with an SI they were barred from approaching government directly with ideas that might allow it to radically transform its services and reduce costs. This was because SIs did not want the Government to be provided with ideas that could result in them losing business, or having to reduce costs."

"42. We take seriously the concerns expressed by many SMEs that by speaking openly to the Government about innovative ideas they risk losing future business particularly if they are already in a sub-contracting relationship with an SI. The Government should reiterate its willingness to speak to SMEs directly, and commit to meeting SMEs in private where this is requested. We recommend that the Government establish a permanent mechanism that enables SMEs to bring innovative ideas directly to government in confidence, thereby minimising the risk of losing business with prime contractors."

"SMEs to bring innovative ideas directly to government"

The report should be good news for SME IT suppliers as long as there is a will to implement the report’s strong recommendations. And, while it doesn’t dwell on SMEs forming their own advantageous partnerships there are surely compelling reasons to collaborate. Not least due to turnover requirements, professional indemnity, required certifications, currency of recent experience and more.

Let’s hope the doors are opening, stay open and SMEs are no longer shut out of the bidding process.

If you have ideas for possible collaborations in the West Midlands or want to find out how Interiors & Lifestyle Futures can help you form successful bidding collaborations, please contact: Iain Acton on 0121 331 7922 or at
Navin Sood on 0121 331 7924 or at

For the full committee report please click here.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Luxury brands buck the trend

Post Adrian Burns
High value, one of Interiors & Lifestyle Futures’ linchpins for competitive success, gets a significant endorsement in the latest results of LVMH. The French luxury goods group (Louis Vuitton, Dom Perignon, Givenchy, Bulgari and more) wrongfooted analysts with a 13% increase in sales (to £9.1billion in the first six months of 2011) and has even a waiting list for its Louis Vuitton handbags.

Zoe Wood, in her Guardian report on the results, adds that: “While the high street remains in the doldrums analysts predict that sales of designer clothes, watches and handbags will reach a new high of €186bn this year as the jet-set release the purse strings following the self-imposed spending purdah brought on by the global financial crisis.”

The phenomenon, Zoe Wood adds, isn’t restricted to LVMH – Burberry and Herm├Ęs are also experiencing better than expected sales.

Luxury brands - time to celebrate?

For the Guardian report see here

To explore LVMH’s various documents on its six month results to 30 June 2011, see here

Interested in how Interiors & Lifestyle Futures could help your business? Please email us at or ring Birmingham 0121 331 7925 or Stoke 01782 415210.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Carbon Zero building

Almost any house is capable of achieving a carbon zero rating. That’s the findings of buildings' performance expert Dr Lubo Jankovic, as reported in an article in Green Building Magazine.

“Dr Jankovic says rather than concentrating on new build standards, the challenge will be to make 95 per cent of existing housing stock eco-compliant.”

Dr Jankovic, from Birmingham City University's School of Architecture and Centre for Low Carbon Research, has led a detailed monitoring of a zero carbon house designed by John Christophers of Associated Architects. The house originates from 1840 and is in Balsall Heath, Birmingham.

John Christophers' zero carbon house

Interiors & Lifestyle Futures can help West Midlands companies interested in pursuing a low carbon strategy. Just drop us a line at
For the full Green Building article, please click here. To learn more about John Christophers and the house please go here.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Designing the Environment: Conference 12 July

West Midlands' interiors companies interested in product development opportunities within the health sector may want to book for this event at the Charles Hastings Education Centre, Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Tuesday 12 July.

This full day conference will explore opportunities for new product development, furniture, and interior design within the maternity unit including labour rooms and delivery suites in hospitals and birth centres.

For full details and booking information please click here