May 19, 2020

Business in the clouds

Technology
Cloud
QuoStar
Robert Rutherford, CEO, QuoSta...
3 min
Business in the clouds

A recent study showed that over 80% of IT decision-makers at UK financial services firms are agnostic to cloud providers.

The reality is that overall service is now more important than anything else when it comes to choosing cloud solutions, which is making this buyer’s market a challenging place for providers.

Staying open-minded

To deliver the best systems for their business, IT decision-makers have to be open-minded when it comes to choosing a cloud provider. After all, delivering technical and business outcomes will always be the main priority when choosing new infrastructure, regardless of who provides it. 

Choosing cloud providers used to be much more multi-faceted, but now it's a simple decision based on cost and functionality, with businesses going for providers and technology that are fit for purpose and available at a sensible price. All other past concerns, such as contractual terms, SLAs, support and the like have fallen away as the market has equalised in these areas. 

At the same time, delivering business services from cloud platforms has become commoditised and simple to implement in recent years, so people are now looking for competitive advantages. For example, many are now looking for additional insights that will help them identify areas where they can deliver increased value, both within their businesses and for their customers.

Adapting to meet demand

Businesses always want to go faster, always want more, and always want something better, and this will continue to define service provision for the foreseeable future. A brief look at the processor market over the last couple of decades shows that we can never really go fast enough for customers, so as data volumes ramp up and the demand for instant access to information increases, speed will remain a massive factor. 

This is a positive development for the cloud market, as IT teams are now engineering solutions based on technical architecture and, ultimately, focusing on what businesses need. Firms are therefore mixing and matching new entrants, software solutions, and hardware with public and private providers. In this way, everyone is in a position to benefit, including the existing market and the end customer.

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Standing out from the crowd

The cloud market is now very mature, so every IT provider should be able to deliver at least a basic service, i.e. maintaining operations, keeping customer data secure and providing a good level of support. As a result, firms need to find other ways to differentiate themselves. 

The best opportunity for providers to set themselves apart is through innovation, particularly around integration and by offering insights that are focussed on performance. Innovative pricing models are also very effective, as is targeting the needs of particular markets and sectors.

The optimum way to do this is to deliver 'customer success' and be able to clearly demonstrate these benefits to the wider market – particularly in that customer's own business sector, and ideally their own region/country too. The cloud market is still large and global in terms of providers, so a lot of customers have gone snow-blind to general marketing; announcing that you are the fastest and have the best SLAs just doesn't cut it anymore. 

Instead, the end customer wants to see and feel what the provider has done for their peers – it needs to feel real and tangible to them.  They not only want a provider who understands their market, but also the intricacies of their business, as the commoditisation brought by cloud is leaving the customer wanting more. Even more important, they want a relationship with a business that understands their challenges and opportunities and can ultimately give them a competitive advantage. 

By Robert Rutherford, CEO of IT consultancy QuoStar.

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Jun 12, 2021

How changing your company's software code can prevent bias

Deltek
diversity
softwarecode
inclusivity
Lisa Roberts, Senior Director ...
3 min
Removing biased terminology from software can help organisations create a more inclusive culture, argues Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR at Deltek

Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day. 

Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at  and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization. 

Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.

Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?  

We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization

What impact can exclusive terms have on employees? 

Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.    

Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code

Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!

What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?

What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology? 

My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve. 

 

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