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Beyond Cloud - a series of interviews

A few weeks ago I was invited by Daniel Steeves to kick off his "Beyond Cloud" series of around 15 documentary interviews.  It went live on IntelligentHQ.com and Vimeo yesterday. Daniel is putting these sessions together with IntelligentHQ and Groupe INSEEC London (the French business school).  Daniel's idea is to have a series of video interviews based around the same set of 4 questions to cover the trends, issues and realities of the Cloud landscape from the many different perspectives of the players involved.  I was providing the consultant's perspective, but he will be covering the viewpoint from the very large Cloud provider, the traditional vendor, the SME provider, the Cloud orchestrator, the network provider, the data centre, the Cloud broker, middle-ware provider, orchestrator, security expert, some different styles of SaaS provider, the industry analyst, the business user, the micro business DIY user and the Cloud lawyer.  He's hoping to get some heretics, detractors and realists along with the evangelists and enthusiasts.   At the end of the sequence Daniel is bringing me back so I can interview him with the same 4 questions to wrap up the ...
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ICAEW event: Cloud is just sizzle?

Last month, on 17 April, I was invited to attend the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)'s annual Cloud accounting event - Winning business in the cloud: reap the benefits of SaaS.  A great title with with the promise of making the case for deploying Cloud. The hashtag for the event was #icaewcloud - it's now at the stage that if your event hasn't got a hashtag, you're missing out in a big way.  Actually this event was generally good, except for one presenter who was well off message, and with whom I have to take issue - more on that later.  First I have to disclose that ICAEW is one of my biggest customers (we provide the technology supporting their on-line community), and that I have a huge amount of time and respect for Richard Anning, the head of the IT Faculty.  He and Paul Booth do a good job putting on events like this one, and fostering IT Counts which is a great resource for peer to peer technology advice in the accounting space.  I should also disclose we resell Twinfield's online accounting - they presented last year and the year before, but not this time.  

Richard did a fine job chairing and ...
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The Cloud's 5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO

Back on 26 April I was asked to present "5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO and How to Beat Them!" at a Ciklum seminar for ISVs that intended to deliver a hype-free conversation among CTOs, Chief Technical Architects and other key executives grappling with the journey to the cloud.  My slides for the session (see below) are already on Slideshare, but they are mostly visual, so I decided to do this  comprehensive (that means long right? - Ed)  blog write up following the slide sequence as a companion piece.  I was in good company, because the other speakers were Jimmy Gasteen of Precursive, Liam Hogan of OpenText and Melissa di Donato of Salesforce.com.  My pitch was intended to do three things:
  • Give my perspective on the current state of the Cloud landscape
  • Offer my 5 key challenges for the ISV CTO in moving to the Cloud
  • Leave the audience with some practical ideas to take action straight away
The current IT landscape is pretty cloudy.  IT providers are branding whatever product they have that happens to run in a datacentre somewhe as "Cloud" ...
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Demystifying the Cloud

How do you spread the word about the benefits of Cloud Computing beyond technology enthusiasts, web "savvy" geeks and industry insiders  to the general business woman and man "in the street"?  The likes of Microsoft and Salesforce are certainly trying to do that with some of their advertising campaigns, but I believe they are missing the target by a mile.  A group of us have got together to try and amplify our voices with an initiative called Cloud Advocates.  Let me explain with a bit of an advert, tell you about our first event and our tie up with Freshbusinessthinking.com.

We are at the stage where Cloud Computing,  from web  based applications to on demand infrastructure, is just moving from being the next big trend to a mainstream technology choice.  There are a plethora of events and announcements around the topic, and just to complicate things every technology provider is redefining whatever offering they've got as a Cloud solution.  In the middle of all this noise  we need some clarity on the topic.  That is why Richard Messik and I decided to pool some of our marketing energy and form Cloud Advocates, an association of ...
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Twinfield change partners for a new dance

I was delighted to hear, early yesterday, that cloud accounting software provider Twinfield was acquired by Wolters Kluwer.  I have to disclose that my company, D2C, have been Twinfield's UK partner since 2005 and so we have a vested interest in the success of the platform and some great customers and partnerships that have come as a result of our Twinfield connection.  Over on the Twinfield blog, my good friend and one of the two Twinfield founders, André Kwakernaat, tells some of the back story and explains how proud he is.  Let me give you my take on the acquisition from the perspective of someone  who has been close to the story right from when Andre's idea started at the end of the 90s.  

Andre and the team really have done a superb job building the business since starting on 5 October 2000.  Today the platform supports 80,000 companies, with 40,000 subscribers and used by over 700 accounting practices.  Although the product operates every day in 23 countries, the bulk of the users are in their home market of the Netherlands, which has been both their strength in terms of growth, profitability and stability, but also a potential weakness. ...
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Cloud is at an inflection point, but let's get things clear

BusinessCloud9On behalf of EuroCloud, I've just posted over at BusinessCloud9's revamped site.  They've gone for a new, clean and simple style and simple logo, which looks good.  

My first post there explains that at the start of 2011 a number of things are happening in the market, and particularly the UK, that mean Cloud Computing is at an important inflection point.  The Cloud is about to become a mainstream approach to be considered not just by CIOs, IT departments of larger companies and the tech savvy early adopters, but for the average business woman and man in the street too.  They are on the receiving end of some significant new marketing of the Cloud topic: As usual we IT solution providers are too steeped in our own jargon and hype, and that makes us lousy at getting the message across in business terms.  Please go over and read the full post, ...
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Sage in the Cloud, but is it too little too late?

Last week Sage, the UK's biggest accountancy software supplier, finally released their first real online accounting solution.  It looks like a proper SaaS or Cloud offering, unlike the hosted Online 50 product sold through a few resellers from 6 years ago, or their previous failed attempt of SageLive in 2009.  I would argue that because of Sage's market acceptance, their Cloud offering marks a significant milestone in getting online, Software as a Service solutions accepted by mainstream businesses and practices in the UK.  I think it's great for the local and International competitors and start-ups who have been steadily gaining market share here since 2005 (or earlier), but for Sage themselves is it too little, too late?

The product is called Sage One.  That name gives you an indication of their target market, because they generally name their products for the number of employees in the typical company they support - Sage 50, Sage 200, Sage ERP 1000 and so on.  One is aimed at sole traders and small firms who don't have an in house bookkeeper or accountant.  It comes in three flavours - cashbook, accounts, and an accountants edition to help an ...

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Hello World!

Keeping up a blog is hard.  I've been at it since October 2005, posting regularly up until May last year, but then I went AWOL from Business Two Zero for a while until today.  My 5 year anniversary on the web came and went with a whimper, and I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to get off my arse and blog - that's got to change!  I've kept up tweeting and chipping in to the conversation at various places, but I need to get back to regular posting and making a real  contribution.  In the intervening time there have been plenty of cloud, collaboration and enterprise 2.0 developments, and I've got more involved in the standards topic.  I've also had some new technology to play with…..  I've switched to a BlackBerry Torch - finally we've got a BB with a proper browser.  I've gone Amazon Kindle, and now I can carry round dozens and dozens of books and get more reading done in the gaps and on the road.  At Christmas, my wife enrolled me in the iPad generation... Expect reviews on those 3 things in the next few weeks.  I've got a selection of books to comment on too - from Vinnie Mirchandani's "The New Polymath" to "Graceful" by Seth ...

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More on that pesky "Cloud" term

I posted the other day on the multiplicity of Cloud definitions, and whether I thought the term itself is useful, or all hype.  Up in the North East, Adrian Pearson picked up on it and related to a story of being sold some telecoms technology with a cloud diagram and so concluded:
"David’s article reminded me that there is real practical benefit in being able to use a term like “Cloud”; to allow everyone in the discussion to make a mental note to accept that bit of the explanation as a “no need to go there” and concentrate on the more important stuff."
Dennis seemed to like the post too, and admired my honesty over admitting falling in to the jargon trap.  He followed that up this week with "Struggling with understanding the cloud?" picking up on some great satire and sarcasm on the definition thing.  Well, that reminded me of Larry Ellison's rant on the topic from last September.  He was at the Churchill Club, a kind of Silicon Valley insiders thing, talking to Ed Zander, when he went off the deep end, around exactly the same issues, saying:

"Cloud Computing is not only the future of computing, it is the present and the entire past of computing,  is ...

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Social CRM - the new rules

There are changes underway across the worlds of social media marketing, social media applied inside business (what some people would call enterprise 2.0) and  where these tools connect (or not) to the business processes in (Cloud based) CRM and ERP systems.   Products like Salesforce are adding Chatter, and Twitter connectivity.  Enterprise 2.0 tools that started as wikis or forums are adding micro-blogging along with more and more social functionality.  Content Management Systems are adding or acquiring a social dimension.  Marketing departments are struggling with, or looking for tools to help with, brand  reputation monitoring and management.  One significant segment of this change just got much clearer with Altimeter Group's R “Ray” Wang and Jeremiah Owyang producing Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management.

R told the Enterprise Irregulars earlier this morning that this report is the culmination of 6 months of research, collaboration, hours of white boarding, phone calls, and skype calls in the early morning and on weekends working with an ecosystem of 42 partners.  The document identifies 18 use cases for Social ...