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Friday, 31 July 2015 01:54

Cloud Q&A with Richard Britton, CEO CloudSense

Richard Britton Richard Britton

We spend 10 minutes talking to CloudSense CEO Richard Britton about the cloud and what he sees are the challenges businesses face in the coming years.

How can businesses differentiate themselves if everyone is using the same cloud services?

It’s not so much the services themselves but what a company does with them. Often the cloud is providing the means for them to become more innovative – it’s a facilitator and there’s still plenty of scope for them to show their knowledge and skills to differentiate themselves from the competition. Cloud is no longer in the early stages, it’s becoming mainstream, so it’s more about the applications themselves.

Does cloud automatically make a business more agile?

Because it’s a way of providing a centralised hub of constantly updated information that sits at the heart of an organisation and is accessible from multiple locations, including when on the move, then obviously it’s easier to respond to changes and make quick decisions based on this reliable, accurate and current data.

The cloud also enables teams to try out new ideas – and if they don’t work quickly tweak them or try something else new. In other words – it enables them to be far more experimental and fast-acting.

Should you encourage and/or control the proliferation of cloud in a business?  

Organisations must always encourage innovation and new technology to remain competitive. They have to look for every advantage and not close down ideas – and need to adopt new technologies as early as possible, otherwise they are always chasing the leaders, trying to catch up. At CloudSense, we particularly see this for businesses operating in telecoms and media. Both are highly competitive industries and experiencing increasing need for diversification to build and extend new revenue streams as their customers turn to digital offerings.

However, these new technologies should be adopted in a controlled and transparent manner to ensure there is a sound business reason behind the investment.

How do you build cloud in to the businesses strategy aka how do you get the rest of the business interested in cloud?

The best cloud-based platforms are disruptive – so it’s not a case of building them into a strategy; more one of building a strategy around them, if you want to get the most out of them. I think that any company that is going through a digital transformation will need to work differently, in a way that just isn’t possible using legacy systems. Business as usual is no longer possible.

So it’s a case of being honest about the limitations of legacy systems, but being sensitive to the fact that these represent a huge investment over the years. Showing how quick it will be to implement a system that sits on top of these will be a first step.

Is the constant change/ development cycle of cloud right for everyone?

Technology shouldn’t stand still – it must evolve, with providers continually developing new features and benefits, otherwise it will deteriorate and become irrelevant. This adds ongoing value for all businesses. In fact, most cloud services don’t change constantly; but incrementally with say three or four new releases a year, so they are delivering increased benefits over time. It’s a case of making sure that governance and change processes extract the most from each new release.

Is the IT department the right place to manage the cloud in a business?

An organisation running predominately in the cloud is going to require different skills from an IT department than previously. For example, the art of managing different partnerships and relationships – rather than the deep technical skills. So re-training will be important – so will more strategic thinking.

Will data sovereignty and Data Protection laws impede European cloud growth?

The underlying need is too great. However, although the draft EU laws on data protection are currently being finalised, there is still much confusion about who owns data in the cloud.

Do we need new skill-sets in businesses to get the most out of our cloud spending?

Yes – many employees are bypassing the IT department because they want specific cloud-based applications. However, different mind-sets are probably more important than skill-sets. It takes vision to use investment to its full potential.

Who has made a successful move to the cloud?

O2 has used the cloud-based CloudSense Telecoms Platform to make the selling of their digital apps easier across every channel.  The O2 offering, launched late 2014 is built to take the hassle out of buying digital services for SMEs. The cloud-based Quote-to-Cash platform has enabled them to simplify the customer journey, quickly and efficiently providing flexible project bundles tailored to customer needs. The implementation has recently won the Business Service Innovation Award at the Global Telecoms Innovation Awards 2015.

More about Richard

Age - 40

What was your first computer-related memory? - Playing games on a Sinclair ZX81 at a friend's house aged 7

What gets you up in the morning? - The alarm on my phone, time to go running.

If you had unlimited funds where would you head for on a day off? - The International Space Station

A career history - Science degree in London, Programmer at Lloyd's Insurance Market, IT then Management Consulting, MBA in Switzerland, CIO at a marketing agency then at a global comms business, before founding CloudSense in 2009.

Hobbies? - Rugby supporter, economics enthusiast. Any sport on water or snow.

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