I started my career teaching programming languages in the late 80’s. About a year in, I had a chance meeting with a bunch of really tired accountants who were desperate for automation, but not really sure how to go about it. After an hour of animated discussion around ledgers, databases, forms and reports, we struck a deal and I quit teaching to write financial software.
In less than a year we were selling the accounting system we had produced and extended our suite to support verticals like real estate, school management and medical records. We also got into hardware, and started selling PCs; multi-user Xenix systems, and Novell based Local Area Networks running our software. Some of our customers asked us to take on their data entry tasks, and so we introduced a Services team. Soon after, we expanded that too with operational contracts, systems audit services and so forth. We all became consummate salespeople. The company grew and we were all proud of what we had created. It was the perfect small business success story. But by now, programming alone had lost its luster and I wanted a broader perspective on things. Although software, networks and computers in general interested me, what I really found intriguing was the tremendous difference these made in my client’s business performance.
A few years and a couple of startups later, I was setting up solutions for Banks, Oil Company’s and Telcos. Now involved in both pre-sales and post-sales, my hunger for learning about new environments was insatiable. I worked with business teams to identify opportunities, and just as hard with the technical teams to address them and make a sale. Sometimes, I maneuvered through layers of regulatory and government reps for product approvals.
What I learned most in those years was that to sell anything, you had to understand the business of the people you’re selling to. You also had to show them how they could use your products and services to do one of three things:
Everything else could be interesting or attractive, but these three points were key. Things were a breeze once I knew this secret and we could put everything in one or more of these categories. Now, their businesses could simply not afford to do without what we had to offer.
Our revenue and popularity grew as we helped jump- start a bunch of high profile businesses in a burgeoning communications and technology industry - from regional ISPs to GSM carriers. We started getting into things like security; wireless communication networks, public services networks and even cameras that could be installed remotely for whale watching. A small team in the Czech republic supported custom builds and a suite of hosted security and web services, way before the trend went mainstream.
Then came Thuraya, a $1.1 billion dollar mobile satellite venture. With heavy responsibilities around a significant chunk of the technology behind the program and through five years and two successful satellite launches - I found myself doing presales again ever so often. This time helping our team talk to service providers, operators and regulators into buying our technology, and helping deal with everything from ridiculously difficult business setup conditions to satellite spectrum sharing, security and law enforcement issues. I was thrown neck-deep into every detail of the communications world and loved every moment of it.
So the next few jobs I took were in the same industry. With Primus – breaking out of long distance, securing financing and getting into VoIP, Wireless and WiMAX, and with Rogers where I helped transform IT and build Chatr Wireless. Each one of these roles saw me spending as much time with the business leaders as I possibly could, helping with what I knew, and continuously learning from some of the best minds in the industry.
Every single one of those experiences taught me that the same three principles of value, simplicity and speed hold true anywhere we want to help in a business. We now have an incredible opportunity within our reach, which allows us to deliver effectiveness and efficiency in a manner that’s never been possible before.
And that’s what Cloud CIO Strategy is all about.
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