Technology Services as an industry dates back to the 1960’s, but in today’s modern workplace with bleeding edge new innovation the model looks very different. Stephen Garden, a tech services entrepreneur that has managed to leverage the latest cloud computing capabilities, continues to elevate the tech services experience for some of the world’s largest companies.
Stephen Garden, cloud services entrepreneur who built Onica into a $300 million powerhouse gives a breakdown of how modern cloud services companies are reinventing an industry.
Q: What is the difference between technology services today vs the dot com era?
There have been a few fundamental changes, historically there was significant manual labor involved in supporting customers, typically building individual data centers for each organization. This was a highly inefficient way of doing things and the scale of the operation meant only large services companies were capable of supporting customers in an outsourcing model.
The cloud removed all of these boundaries and allowed even a small 10-person company to remotely build data centers for organizations all across the world in fractions of the time it would have traditionally taken.
Q: Has this required a new kind of skillset for consultants?
Yes, the skillset shifted heavily towards the ability to do things in a highly automated manner, writing code to complete tasks that would have previously been manually completed. Additionally, many legacy concepts of design have been challenged, for example the idea that every part of an application needed its own server to work safely, this has been replaced by technologies like serverless and containers. Legacy services companies have found it hard to evolve and master these new approaches which opened the door for specialist focused experts to rise.
Q: What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs wanting to start a cloud services company?
I’d say firstly make sure you pick the right cloud platform to partner with. There are many options, everything from Software as a Service applications like Salesforce.com or ServiceNow through to hyperscale platforms like Amazon Web Services or Snowflake in the data space.
If you find a product that you’re passionate about and that you really believe in, that’s a big first step. Most of these companies have partnership programs that can support you in building your business, everything from how to sell the products to how you should implement them for customers.
Q: How did you work with Amazon Web Services to build Onica?
AWS was the pioneering cloud provider when we began our partnership, they had a comprehensive partner program called the AWS Partner Network (APN). We worked our way through the program gaining competencies and capabilities in different service offerings. By partnering with AWS in the field with customers we gained access to many new opportunities and were able to jointly work together in helping customers move to the cloud.
Q: What are some tips for keeping pace with the growth opportunity of the cloud?
Getting leverage from your teams is critical, reusing delivery frameworks and IP helps tremendously. To further accelerate our expansion, we brought in a capital investor, Sunstone Partners who helped us make acquisitions of similar businesses in new markets. The mix of organic and in-organic growth meant we could sustain 100% year over year growth for many years.
Q: What do you think was the most critical element in Onica’s success?
I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time but company culture is a massive deal. When moving fast and expanding there can be a lot of chaos, making sure you’re building the kind of company that people want to grow their careers at, getting access to new opportunities and education is undoubtedly the most critical element in building a cloud services company.