As founders, Dan (Daniel Addy) and I (Paul Andrew) have embarked on this journey with Cloud Formations as a professional services business. Our headline from the point of inception has been and will continue to be no-nonsense consulting, with service offerings for Data & AI advisory, strategy, design, delivery, and training. This will be the foundations of the company, with supplementary services the support every business unlock the power of data.
Considering this, data consultancy certainly is not anything new. But with our no-nonsense approach, born out of our combined experience of dealing with/operating as part of vast management consultancies, layered in endless politics and bureaucracy, we feel we can do better. Breaking the mould and disrupting the norm.
In this post, we collectively want to articulate our vision for Cloud Formations. Simply put, what makes us different? To answer this and build on our core values of: integrity, innovation, delivery excellence and one team, we can declare the following points.
Let us elaborate on those points below.
This sentiment has been fuelled by our past, as alluded to above. But how are we going to implement this culturally and maintain this in our future. As a start, you may have seen posts about our story in starting Cloud Formations and (for me) the unpacking of the branding. No nonsense, therefore meaning an element of transparency in what we do. Personally sharing our thinking as we move forward, we will not be a faceless corporation. We will have a human personality, defined by the people that make up the business, this will be professional in a business centric setting, but real. To consider this from another perspective. Dan and I, both have young families and value a work/life balance, therefore we simply do not have time to mess about. We will tell it how it is, using simple direct language, if we think the approach is wrong or not worth the effort, you will hear about it.
To summarise our no-nonsense stance, Cloud Formations will be: professional, human, direct and transparent.
Value for whom is worth clarifying. To continue the statements above and aligned to our direct approach. We want to create value for everyone. Value...
for our communities - having a genuine social impact by giving back, this can and will take many different forms, especially as we grow. We want to hear stories from our team, about their lives and support what they consider important, personal and professional. This might be something as simple as allocating a portion of the working week to volunteering, or taking time out of work to Give Blood. We will support all these ideas and many more yet to be conceived.
for our customers - using the business lifeblood of data to evolve and grow, informing strategic direction using data driven insights and unlocking AI use cases. But with a clear moral compass, not delivering new and shiny tools for the sake of it, not pushing technology because of hype and unlocking value in data where we think it exists, informed by our customer's vision.
for our team - creating a rich environment where rebel thinking can thrive, we want to foster innovation and support a diverse approach to solutions. Succeeding together where every opinion matters and by contrast, this will mean failing together with a growth mindset. Learning from mistakes and taking ownership. One team.
for our families and friends - offering flexible working for our team. Time is precious, especially with young children, we know that, we live that, and we want to ensure everyone gets to maximise those social relationships throughout the working week and beyond. This may involve flexibility with time as well as location, supporting whatever environment is going to fuel productivity with trust in our team to act autonomously.
for our business - doing more with less. Working smarter not harder, common phrases you have probably heard before. But making this a reality will be a common goal. What assets can we reuse for others? What can we invest in now to save us time in the long term? Where should we focus our efforts? How can we improve? Questions that we will constantly ask to challenge the 'norm'. Challenge routine. Seeking comfort in discomfort.
Over the course of our careers, Dan and I have both worked in the public sector, working with businesses funded by the government and in turn, the taxpayer. We recognise that such businesses cannot always justify consultancy engagements, but are often in desperate need it: for example, the NHS, where patient care and savings lives is the priority, information technology and by extension data, is just a tool to facilitate the business, to support the clinical staff. Unlocking value in such a setting and many others like it, we will be creative with our commercial models, focusing on outputs while staying true to the industry priorities (such as healthcare). In addition, we will use our network of contacts to deliver expert resources from beyond the shores of the United Kingdom to ensure we can offer a competitive price for all deliveries, bringing affordable expertise/insights to those that need it.
Investment in this context for us is about people, the next generation of data professionals that drive our industry forward, we do/will give back to the community. This builds on our statements above about being value focused, for our communities, going deeper into that area of our vision, we will:
Share our knowledge and expertise as part of daily practices.
Onboard students into work experience roles.
Deliver free training at evening user groups/MeetUp's. Such as East Midlands Data.
Organise and sponsoring free to attend conferences. Such as Data Relay.
Assist university graduates with career advice.
Visit schools to lead STEM lessons.
Publish podcasts from our professional network. Such as The Tech Handshake.
Offer our Point of View on the latest technology/concepts. Free to consume here.
Blog with hints/tips and how to guides.
Publish our reference architectures here.
Make apprenticeships available.
Host a free to attend open Office Hours call
Plus, many other initiatives to be figured out as we grow.
We 'look around' in our industry and we see a lot of things that we would do differently, this has been a big motivator for starting Cloud Formations, initially we plan to disrupt and be different in the following ways:
To open source our assets for everyone to use.
To overcome technical dept in delivery. Not hide it.
To support stakeholders with strategic decisions, regardless of the reward to us.
To call out what is wrong, with our loyalty to the customer.
To own our problems.
To over delivery - going beyond for our customers.
To take time for self-reflection.
To challenge everything.
Having this clarity of thought as a driver for everything we do will allows us to disrupt and even expose what we see as delivery issues. Where loyalty has only been to commercials and team utilisation, squeezing ever last drop of energy out of good-natured people. That is not the Cloud Formations way.
Let us tackle this one head on. No nonsense. There is a diversity issue in our industry, it is getting better, but in general, the technology industry is heavily populated by white males (like Dan and I). Addressing this in-balance in our teams so we have inclusivity in what we do is going to take a lot of effort and something of which we are very mindful.
At Cloud Formations we value potential and ability. That is all. There will not be any bias added when considering our team for roles solely to achieve a level of diversity. Yes, we still want that balance and are more than prepared to put in the effort required to establish it. But potential and ability are what we value.
To complete this statement, come and work with (not for) us. If you have the potential and ability, you will achieve great things. If you do not yet have the experience required, we will support your career and personal development, because we see that you have the potential.
We feel that valuing potential and ability is a far more inclusive stance than trying to count "diversity points", categorise and label our team. We also know is that genius often comes with a healthy dose of personality, which we love, because we are all human and we know that each member of the team will have a different perspective. This nicely brings me full circle on my opening comments about our vision. Professional, human, direct and transparent.
Thank you for reading about our vision, it genuinely means a lot to us.
Paul and Dan