Tag Archives: business growth

Cloud Warnings

Questions to Ask Before Buying… the Business of Cloud

Cloud Buying Questions for Cloud Computing Service Providers, hosted by the good folk over at CompareTheCloud.net

Cloud Service Provider:  You’ve made your pitch and you’re in the door, sitting across from some subset of senior management who are waiting to hear about how you and your cloud can change their world. Well done (especially these days!)… but there just might be a few questions before the deal closes: buying cloud from you is a leap of faith – not only in your business – but in their own business and its ability to capitalise on what you are offering.

The following questions, posed in no particular order, are the nature of which you might hear coming from the other buy-side of the table:

  1. Questions and Answers signpostWhere are your Data Centres; how are they connected; who and how has the whole thing been designed and built? What is your current technology landscape and what are your plans?
  2. What happens if my applications / data / websites are unavailable (and /or remain unavailable for an inordinate amount of time? And, for that matter, what is the definition of an inordinate amount of time?) Tell me about service levels and service credits?
  3. How quickly can you restore lost data (including recovery from user error); what is the back-up regimen, frequency, retention policies? Where is the data backed up?
  4. Tell about your support model for my business users, technical users and developers. Will we have an account manager and, if yes, what does that mean?
  5. Show me how I am not locked in to you: what are the mechanisms to ensure a cost effective repatriation of applications and data (to either another provider or back into my own data centre); what are the costs and timings of such decommissioning?
  6. While at this point you foresee no problems in moving our (pick one: ERP; bespoke trading platform; SOA; etc.) to your cloud… what is your approach (from due diligence through to the actual porting exercise) and what happens if there are problems? Will there be any impact on my costs?
  7. You seem like a new and risky (or successful and growing business): what happens to my business if you should go under (or get acquired)?
  8. Where have you done any or all of the above / can I speak with a current customer bearing some relationship to mine in terms of industry sector and scale? Can I see your Customer case studies quoting business results?

Buying cloud from you is a leap of faith – not only in your business – but in their own business and its ability to capitalise on what you are offering.

When I started writing this, I had planned a list of a few questions only, intending to discuss each a little more including views as to how to answer: along the way it has become the start of a solid list of tough questions which might prove of value all along the supply chain (and I’d also suggest that, if a customer doesn’t ask such questions, that a larger opportunity just might exist to start a journey where you can start adding extra value from day one of the sale process by posing and answering those questions together… never a bad way to start a relationship!).

At this point I’d like to throw the floor open to you: what are the questions a service provider should be asked?  And which are the questions a provider should be well prepared for?  And what are the killer questions that might have caught you off-guard?!

The Business of Cloud homepage

 

TCIO

Does the UK technology sector measure up?

Bdaily Business News

Does the UK technology sector measure up? (An opinion piece by me published at BDaily.co.uk Business News)

It's Technology Week on Bdaily. Daniel Steeves, a Canadian Partner at James Caan’s Mayfair firm HB Prime Advantage offers his opinion on how the climate could be improved for the tech businesses in the UK in comparison with other countries.

From commitments to infrastructure improvements, through to making available more visas for skilled workers, the UK Government has been backing some relatively successful efforts to attract new or added presence from some of the ‘big players’ to London but, in my opinion, a bit too focused an eastward view.

Regardless of the geography, supporting technology-focused or technology-enabled start-up businesses (a space currently supporting tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in revenue across the UK) is a clever approach as both a short-term tactical and a longer view strategic position to work towards bolstering and growing our economy.

The problem is not only that an East London focus excludes the successful and growing technology industry we have in Cambridge and down the M4 Corridor to Oxford (the places in the UK where those billions are generated) but that, for the most part, the typical east London start-up is in the consumer-facing space rather than targeting the business to business environment (the companies in the UK who are generating those billions).

“Build it and they will come” does not apply to industry in general or the technology sector in particular, rather it is something that happens… and then grows. I grew up in the growing Silicon Valley (North) as Ottawa was sometimes called. Like its California namesake businesses started and grew in that geography partly in support of the Military and mostly because of what was under the ground… as the industry (and the local population) grew, so did the supporting ecosystem, from the service sector through to education to Government.

So, how to improve the climate for technology start-ups in general? I’d consider starting with the following three things:

  • Continued encouragement and support for business start-ups, but enhanced with education and awareness on what constitutes a sustainable business.
  • A little (or a lot) less hands-on involvement with the business of the sector, replaced with a greater focus on removing roadblocks related, for example, to taxes and visas
  • Just let it happen… from an external point of view the Government should support start-ups as though they were plates spinning on a stick: don’t touch the stick until you are certain that the plate is going to fall (and be ready and aware to be sure of which ones to be sure of catching!)

(please click here to read the original article)

cloud-cost-savings-outlook-rainy

Grey Clouds over Cost Savings

Grey Clouds over Cost Savings

A great piece by Michael Queenan of Nephos Technologies 

when a Cloud blog starts with "If you are looking at Cloud for just cost savings you’re going to be disappointed" I know I've found one of the good ones (and thanks to @MJQueenan for the mention)

cloud-cost-savings-outlook-rainy

 

big-data-graphic

Big Data, Big Deal

Big Data, Big Deal

My latest blog as posted at  at ComparetheCloud.net: it is your data, not big data, that matters (but even that has limited relevance until you know what you want to do with it)

It is easy to drown in big data articles, let alone the numbers that they quote: companies counting customer transactions in the millions (or more) per day, websites with literally billions of photos and videos, not to mention 3000 tweets per second! We are inundated with broad brush information but, like the data being written about, the relevance to you and your business is not so clear… it is your data, not big data, that matters but even that has limited relevance until you know what you want to do with it.

big-data-graphic
Data is of course aggregating at an amazing rate but this is nothing new… it’s clearly been happening for quite some time. What has changed is that, as that data piles up, awareness of the potential value within it is increasing. Combined with advances in technology and the delivery of that technology, storage and access costs are drastically reduced which creates opportunities to derive information, intelligence and insights from that data (in many cases, an asset you already own!)  .. Read the rest here

Einstein

Big Data – reduced to a buzz word |via @Data_Nerd

A good read: personally I think it isn’t as bad as cloud has been hyped but all along assumed that it would get there: according to @Data_Nerd, it already has  (my 2013 update: could be the hype is even worse!)

A “buzz word”, that is what data has been reduced too. “Big Data” is now a common phrase used to describe numerous counts of different types of data, social media data, point of sale data, financial data, digital and visual data…. Arg, make it stop. But what is it “really” and what makes it useful versus noise?

via Big Data – reduced to a buzz word | Analytical-Solution.com.

Tuizzi is going global / EU-Startups

You might say you could have done this too. But the fact is that Tuizzi did it first and got the second place at the Startup Games in London, last weekend.

Tuizzi is simply the booking.com of outdoor advertising. Either you are a small business owner, a brand manager or an advertising agency, this platform will help you find and buy the local advertisements you are looking for. And if you are the proud owner of a few billboards, you can put them for sale there and even manage your business for a fee.

I met today Afonso Santos, co-founder of this Porto based startup and asked him if it was really “too easy”. The answer: “It was fun and at the end we got the best prize I could ask, a new mentor I trust will help us put the next step in place”. Afonso also mentioned the team (three co-founders and one employee) is looking to take the next step. After all, there’s ten man-years of experience gathered, adding up the team member’s commitment to the project. “We are making some money in Portugal and we think we are more than ready to take a global approach, we just feel we need to take an additional step before scaling up”, reveals Afonso.

Tuizzi was the recent winner of the Switch Conference in Lisbon and defeated 120 startups at London Startup “Olympics”, all but UK-based Versarien, a high technology company specializing in materials development that “took the gold medal”. You can read more here and here.

Now it’s back to business. Just for reference, when Afonso told me about an interested Portuguese group in the same sector, it took me one attempt to guess which one was. But the company is looking for other markets and “a big investor might be in the horizon”, so are the effects of the Startup Games second place. I know some calls and mails are being exchanged and that a deal might come in the next weeks. Afonso confirms “this will be a Series A round, we mostly funded the project ourselves up to now”. We look forward to hear from that development. My guess: given the size of the market they are, that may well be the deal of the year in Portugal.

Tuizzi is going global / EU-Startups.

Digital Sizzle

Digital Sizzle 4 – an audience with Tech City

An excellent evening: food, company, conversations, beer… a true tech evening!

(btw the Google Campus in east London is v. nice!!)

LIVE: Digital Sizzle 4 – an audience with Tech City.

Here's a Storify recap of Digital Sizzle 4 on Twitter, comments & pics

The video!! (this could get scary!)

pics from Paul Clark

TCIO Impact Report

Kernel Review of TCIO Report

The Troika, from the Kernel

In response to a recent article on Forbes.com

A recent Forbes.com article Startup Success: Throw Away Your Business Books was, in my opinion, delivering counter-intuitive information.

My response follows:

I won’t argue that applying traditional tools to a non-traditional business model is not the approach… but I will argue that knowing enough to understand what is or isn’t traditional is a prerequisite to success and is predicated by learning (particularly when it comes time to pitch to someone who thinks and maybe has seen and heard it all before!)

The *right* books are a fundamental, inexpensive and fast-track approach to that knowledge which, like a methodology, recipe or your SatNav directions from point A to point B: what they are doing is:
– telling you what is the ‘straight and narrow’
– what were and are the lessons learned from the very old and the not so old ways of doing things (new books are being written rather regularly, after all)

My point is that unless I have a clue as to what has been done before and what has been thought of before I will be unable to know that what I am doing is ‘outside of the box’ or ‘not playing by the rules’ – and that I am better informed, every single step of the way, by the lessons of those who have failed and succeeded before me

Following an Ask James Caan question on LinkedIn

Following an Ask James Caan question on LinkedIn regarding difficulties moving from contracting into permanent roles:

Good advice, all around, particularly the points about working your network (including especially here on LinkedIn) and creating a portfolio (which you might want to consider also delivering online, in a ‘socialised’ manner, perhaps using a web site such as Pinterest.com).

I’d like to add one more thought, based on my ‘past lives’ as an independent contractor and as one who has hired contractors into permanent roles.

Since there is a strong likelihood that it will be asked, I find that it helps to provide a brief answer to the question: “what is your motive for returning to a permanent role” in advance, in your covering letter. Given the chance, you can later support or reinforce your answer in person during the interview process.

Your answer must be understood from two sides of the table: that of the screening process of the Recruitment agency and that of the employer. Your answer of course needs to be ‘your’ answer, but a couple of convincing building blocks for that answer might include:
– you have always kept an eye open for the ‘right opportunity, at the right level, to join and grow the right organisation’ (and that this appears to be just that)
– you have extended your depth or breadth as an independent (ideally supported by specific examples from your portfolio which have direct relevance to the position description and the keywords in the job advert)
– you have added a layer of complementary skills which enable you to operate across industry sectors / scale of business or deal (again with an eye to providing obvious but honest matches between your skills and the words used in the advert)
– your independent experience may have required you to add skills with a focus on the commercial, financial or other aspects (any of which may contribute to their perception of your matching the requirement, if they are mentioned in the advert)

These or similar approaches sometime not only serve to answer the question in advance but can also work as a handy bit of self-promotion (which can do wonders towards moving your CV to the recruiter’s ‘good’ stack)

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