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View from the Channel With James Doggart, CEO of Cloud Technology Solutions

Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS) is the largest dedicated Google Cloud practice in Europe and one of the world’s leading cloud transformation experts. Headquartered in Manchester and with offices in London, Edinburgh, Maarssen and Frankfurt, it provides a full-stack Google Cloud solution to organisations in the finance, retail, hospitality, research, education and Government sectors, encompassing cloud migration, transformative working, IT infrastructure, machine learning, data science and app development. Its CloudManager and CloudMigrator products have migrated more than nine million users and 33,000 domains to the cloud and are used by more than 3,000 organisations in 83 countries. Clients include Netflix, Spotify, Homeserve, Manchester City Council, Roadchef and the RSPCA. Following a record year for customer wins, the launch of new software solutions under the rebranded CloudM product suite and a merger with Netherlands-based machine learning experts Qlouder, Technology Reseller asked CEO James Doggart for his ‘View from the Channel’.

Technology Reseller (TR): How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? How confident are you about the future?

James Doggart (JD): Better. The market is moving quickly and we are confident about current and future opportunities. There are two particular trends that are really driving growth for us. Firstly, the end-user market is shifting further towards the cloud. When it comes to cloud adoption, the question now is how and when, rather than if. The second development is that Google has invested heavily in cloud and has cemented its position as one of the industry’s largest players, which is providing us with new opportunities.

TR: In what areas are you experiencing the most demand right now?

JD: We are seeing rising demand across all areas of our business. In part, that is being driven by our position as an independent software vendor operating across 89 countries, which allows us to spot macro trends early and capitalise on them. We’re also spotting new growth opportunities for machine learning expertise, which our acquisition of data science expert Qlouder last year has helped us meet. Increasingly, our customers want to know how machine learning can help them exploit their data and drive unique business insights.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult?

JD: There are a few economic headwinds that the market is having to contend with. Brexit uncertainty and talk of a recession have the potential to delay decision-making for businesses. That means we need to articulate how valuable our expertise and services are and why they should be a priority for businesses rather than a niceto-have. The fact that we enable our clients to save money helps with this.

TR: How have you changed/are you changing the way you operate to exploit new opportunities?

JD: As a business, we pride ourselves on our agility. That means we’re constantly learning and changing to ensure we provide the best possible offer to our clients. It’s an ethos that runs right through the business – a culture of learning and development is key to what we do. In terms of our client offering, adapting to provide real expertise in the field of data science and machine learning is one of the ways we have been proactive in seizing new opportunities.

TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

JD: From a cloud perspective, adding value to customers is one of the biggest challenges. Building long-term relationships with clients is key to this.

TR: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome key business challenges and, if so, what?

JD: While vendors may have the big-name brand, it is businesses operating in the channel that have the relationship with clients. Often, it is those operating in the channel that best understand clients and their needs. More vendors than ever understand this, but there’s always room for more partnership-working such as we have with Google.

TR: Are customers becoming more demanding? And, if so, in what ways?

JD: Yes, and rightly so. We are operating in two disruptive areas; public cloud and machine learning. Machine learning, in particular, has the potential to revolutionise how services are delivered to customers, so the demands on us are higher. From a cloud perspective, we have automated one of our migration services in response to the market become increasingly demanding. Completely revolutionising one of our own services has allowed us to offer an improved service to a higher number of clients.

TR: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?

JD: That’s a tough question, especially since my job continually changes thanks to the growth we’re experiencing. If the number of meetings I find myself in were cut down, I wouldn’t complain!

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