The Five Key Questions We Asked OCF's Julian Fielden

Jun 11, 2015

Who are OCF and what are you guys all about?

We are a Sheffield-headquartered high-performance, Big Data and analytics integrator. We help organisations create, manage and store large amounts of data, which is usually for research purposes. That means a lot of our work is in the R&D end of private industry but mainly in universities; we work with organisations like the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, the exciting new Hartree Centre and the Wellcome Trust.

Sounds great. So you should be well placed to help us out here... what happened to all that stuff Francis Maude used to go on about - how we were going to create massive new industries out of all our public data? That hasn't happened, as far as we can see?

It absolutely is happening! And in spades. No, there's not a lot of production-ready things out there yet, but there's been a lot of amazing proof of concept stuff, which we're proud to say we're involved with. There's also on-going commitment and investment in all this, especially at Hartree, which got £113m more last December from government - and the private sector, in the shape of one of our big high-performance compute partners, IBM. All of the potential for new industrial breakthroughs you are talking about will ultimately be based on data, and the best use of data; not just big government datasets but organisational data. If you don't do something with all the data you have stored, to be frank, you might as well just throw it away.

So Big Data... though I note I haven't heard that term a lot this year. Has it gone out of fashion?

No, it's just been rebranded. It's all the Internet of Things now. People got bored with 'Big Data,' as a term, it's difficult to define.

So things are going well for both you and data, it seems. A final question, how do you find selling into the public sector marketplace - are things like G-Cloud important to you or not?

We don't really use that, we enter via the big commercial vehicles, the Frameworks, which we think make it easier for both buyers and sellers. It's a way to get away from the whole European Journal procurement model, which was to slow and unwieldy for the Coalition - and for the rest of us, too. I will say it's an expensive initial commitment for a supplier to get on to these pre-qualified Frameworks, but we have found it's an investment worth making and we are happy with the system.

Great, thanks for all your answers to our Five Key Questions today, Mr Fielden!

(c) 2015



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