You will often hear me saying that Cloud is about Business, not Technology. It’s not about the nuts and bolts, but what that enables your business to do.
Recently I had a meeting booked with my company’s bank – HSBC. I had arranged to spend some time with the Bank Manager to run through the three year plan and get his comments.
After the pleasantries I opened up my laptop case and took out my MacBook and plugged in my Vodafone 3G dongle. Connection made. Browser opened.
I then logged in to my Google Docs account, bringing up all of my folders and files. To help my Bank Manager understand what is happening I explain that none of these folders or files exist on my laptop, we are accessing them through the Internet. We could just as easily be doing this on the PC on his desk.
We open up my Financial Forecasts and I am able to walk him through the projections. As we do so I notice that one of my Salesforce training costs has come down, so I make the change and explain to the Bank Manager that as this file is shared with our investors, they immediately see the updated numbers in their folders without me needing to send them a new attachment.
We completed the review, and then the Bank Manager asked a very interesting question,
“Charlie, I like to get out and meet clients in their own offices. Tell me, what would I see at your office that is different to what I’m seeing here?”
I had explained to the bank previously about what it was that my company did, and how we were running our own business, and now the intrigue was setting in about what that actually meant.
The answer is quite simple. Nothing.
I work out of Serviced Offices (taking the Cloud Model to its extreme). The great benefit to us is that we can scale up and down as we need, and pay a single monthly bill including rent, rates, electricity, insurance, water coolers, kitchens, maintenance, receptionists….the list goes on. It also includes VOIP and Data connections. On the day we moved in we literally brought in our Macs, plugged in the Ethernet cable and were ready to go, with full access to all our Enterprise systems – Google Apps for Email and Productivity, Salesforce.com for Sales and Support, and Xero for Accounts.
I expanded on my answer for the Bank Manager. ”We can’t access anything more in my offices than I can here. We go to work at offices because it is a place to focus, it is fun, it is a work environment. We don’t go there to access systems.”
In fact, it is crazy looking at the Macs and Macbooks that are essentially very over geared browsers. We don’t run a single work programme on them locally. You could burn our office down, drive a train through it, steal all our hardware it wouldn’t matter.
Why this is relevant to our Bank Manager is that it has made great improvements to our cash-flow. There is no large capital expense in Month 1 for hardware and software as there is for most Companies – an email server, a database, Office for 5 users, Siebel, or ACT! with a server to run it on, Sage. Perhaps a Rack and some security, and then some tapes to back-up the data each night and a safe at home to store them in. You could easily see £10-£20,000 committed in a business plan. We have none of this.
I left the meeting feeling that our Bank Manager had a much better understanding of our business having seen what we do in action, and knowing that we run our own Company in exactly the same way, and by doing so, we have materially helped our cash-flow.
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