8 Years On from 2011 and 15 minutes of Fame – Cloud was it Evolution or Revolution?

Published on September 18, 2019

8 Years On from 2011 and 15 minutes of Fame – Cloud was it Evolution or Revolution?

Three years on since I last blogged and now its time to restart – why you might ask? Simply it’s been gratifying to hear from Customers, Colleagues, Business Partners and even Prospects who didn’t buy from me (how dare they!) that have told me how much they missed my blogs, which for the uninitiated are still all available on LinkedIn, so by demand it’s time to metaphorically put pen to paper once again.

For those that are new to my style you will simply get my opinion on things that I am generally interested in and I will no doubt cover topics like Entrepreneurship, SME’s (of which I will always be a champion of), the Market, Tech specifically Cloud and Oracle Cloud and anything else that is running through my mind that I think might be of interest to a wider audience.

Blogging for me is a way of bringing structure and order to the chaos that is often going on inside me. What you won’t get is any talk of politics (I think we have all had quite enough of the “B” word), albeit I might comment on what I see the future challenges the UK Civil Service faces when we know what we are doing! My opinions are direct and no doubt will be viewed by some as controversial. So please feel free to agree or disagree with me as its only through experience, conversation and difference of opinion that we all learn and you will actually find that it is this that fuels real innovation.

As we enter into Autumn 2019 and on the last day of Oracle’s Openworld in San Francisco let’s turn back the clock as I am reminded that nearly eight years ago on a very dark and wet night in October 2011 in Fenchurch Street at a then Client’s offices Tim Warner, my long term partner in crime, and I discussed at length a new world called Software as a Service (SaaS) and Oracle’s fledgling offering – Fusion (how many times have they interchanged that name over the years?) and what was then still really amounting to a bunch of powerpoint slides that had been touted around for years but rumour was that it was actually not only a real product but an absolute game changer.

In-fact Larry Ellison, against popular belief, had already made his big bet albeit it is well known that Oracle were a late entrant to the enterprise Cloud game. The more that night we talked the more we felt a paradigm shift was coming that was going not only to change the industry we knew but also the world. It was looking like 1999 all over again.

Looking back when you realise you are staring into pandora’s box and you suddenly know something that possibly very few others on the entire planet know is, on reflection, quite scary and sends shivers down your spine once you understand the ramifications.

A period of our own due diligence subsequently followed, so I will dispel the myth now that entrepreneurs are a bunch of mavericks and cowboys that often make knee jerk decisions. However we do move very fast and just three weeks later we were in the position to make an informed calculated risk decision to follow Larry’s fledging vision and “bet everything on Red”. (this story is covered in the blogs of the past so I won’t repeat it here). Cloud was the new market place and we needed to get their first and create the necessary space in the Oracle ecosystem in the UK to thrive, albeit in reality and we do look back and laugh that we had half a product (most of that had key functionality missing), we didn’t really know how to implement it properly (that took us 2 years) and nobody wanted to buy it – the perfect time to start a business.

Roll on seven years and Certus Solutions the company I originally founded in my bedroom and evolved into the first dedicated Oracle SaaS Cloud professional services company was sold to Accenture in May 2018. My 15 minutes of fame had arrived and after 10 years of hard graft, near two bankruptcies, and a host of other personal challenges that I won’t bore you all with, Tim and myself became overnight successes and for 15 minutes complete legends in the Industry and the Oracle ecosystem.

Now that’s over moving swiftly on…

So was Cloud Evolution or Revolution?

It is just amazing how the software industry has had to change its operating models. Oracle specifically from a product orientated company to a service one (a journey for those involved in the service industry knows never ends!). Something that was started by Salesforce (a company I personally massively admire) is now the norm. Customer success and advocacy are the constant watchwords and rightly so as regardless of Cloud a business does not exist without happy customers.

I once famously told someone very Senior in HM Government in early 2016 after they had spent 18 months pontificating over whether they were going Cloud (as it was a “fad”) that the decision had in-fact already been taken for them by the industry five years earlier and they were going Cloud regardless and it was a decision that was no longer in their gift to make. Shock! Horror! no just a black and white reality check over the seemingly then obvious state of affairs. The only element of control they had was the WHEN they were going and the longer they continually took no action the cost would just increase. Why? simply the gap exponentially grows between legacy technology and the speed of technology innovation, making it more complicated to move both organisationally and technically within a business.

Remember the true cost being not just the financial cost of undertaking the implementation, but more importantly the “opportunity cost” of missing out on the digital innovation that is continuously coming at pace. This is something that is constantly missed from business cases both in the private and public sectors. The bottom line being extremely blunt is “just get on with it because you really are missing out”.

So was it an evolution or really a revolution? Three years ago, I used the word evolution, why? Because even in a blog I had to be somewhat careful not to scare monger and evolution is a much softer word to use in regard to change. However looking back, it really was a revolution but through stealth. Salesforce, Oracle, Workday and SAP are all highly successful companies, and Cloud technology has facilitated the emergence of whole host of exciting mid-market vendors and start-ups. Many of these are British! and something I am proud to have been and continue to be associated with. The smaller ones just love turning the world upside down – go for it!

But still why the change of mind? What I never factored into my crystal ball, as I have said many times before, is the sheer pace of technology innovation and its corresponding impact on business operating models. The biggest lesson I learned was that Cloud is TRANSFORMATIONAL – done right it will transform (no going back) your business operation positively for ever.

It truly is frightening but also at the same time so very exciting. The possibilities of improving our working lives seems endless and the opportunities to challenge the status quo and drive positive change especially in the Public Sector (my undying love for it however frustrating it is at times) still invigorates me today just as much as it did when I first got involved with the HM Prison Services Phoenix Shared Services Programme back in 2004.

We can make Cloud platforms change the way we work better for everyone – employees, suppliers, and customers alike (and anyone else I have forgotten). More importantly in changing the way we work, we also should benefit positively to the way we conduct our personal lives. We just need to look for the win-win opportunities that exist out there. At the very least, it should help make work less stressful and as mundane tasks are removed through automation creates time for value added activities. Our time whether at work or play is the most valuable thing we all have as our time is always limited.

So where has this first blog taken us? Simply I revisit my earlier statements and change my position – Cloud was a quiet revolution as it not only transforms business operations but can also positively (if used in the right way) change our personal lives for the better. The pace of change and technology innovation is not letting up and remember the technologies we are dealing with will continue to transform business operations continuously. The next generation of technologies of the likes of AI (which incidentally has been around for years, but now we are looking at mass adoption) and Robotics (another one in the same categorically) are already available having being built and embedded on Cloud technology platforms.

Still for those who continue to delay their migration to the Cloud it is just delaying the inevitable and at significantly higher cost. History is littered with case studies of what happened to those that did not adapt and remain relevant to what was going on around them. You only have to watch the evening news and look at our high streets for recent examples of this.

There is just as much opportunity today to make a difference as there was when the quiet revolution started. Cloud technology is extremely mature and well proven. The only question one has to ask constantly regardless of your role in society and the economy is are you up for it?

Comment, and let you know what you think, after 3 years I am a bit rusty…

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. In addition, my thoughts and opinions change from time to time and I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind.This blog is intended to provide a semi-permanent point in time and as such any thoughts or opinions expressed within out of date posts may not be the same or similar to those that I hold today.

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