We had a chance to speak to Ron Rand, Founder and CEO of Rand Group, about the acceleration in the rate of acceptance of cloud storage and cloud computing by business.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is our Web site. See the entire thing in beautiful high definition video. We’re talking… We’re talking software and we’re talking IT. The world of information technology is constantly changing and it’s accelerating in it’s pace of how it’s changing. And we got a really smart guy in here that knows all about it, that’s going to tell you all about it. I’m your host Matt Register. Jay Curry had to step out. He’s going to join us here in a minute. In the meantime Ron Rand, CEO and friend of the show, of Rand Group. Which is a remarkable software company, an integration company, all over the state. Ron welcome back to the show sir.
Ron Rand: Matt thanks. Great to be here as always.
Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about… we were talking during a break and we had a phone call a couple of days ago about this, the rate of change of the IT industry is, is accelerating. Right? Tell me a little bit about that because for years, several years now, right? Software has been moving to the cloud. It’s been something that is coming but that is accelerating and it’s accelerating quickly.
Ron Rand: Yeah, there’s a momentum shift that is very much happening around us right now. So you know, I describe it this way, I think you’re right. It started a couple of years ago, a number of years ago actually, more than a couple of years ago but, but that gaining traction, going to the cloud, has been somewhat of a slow gradual process. But over the last, I’d say six to 12 months. I mean even since the last time we talked. That pace at which adoption and usage and movement to the cloud is really, really accelerating. So as an example, Microsoft, last November, launched their first full cloud, multi-tenant, true software as a service, ERP product, called Dynamic 365.
Matt Register: Right.
Ron Rand: Right. And so that’s as recently as just last November.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ron Rand: And so Microsoft has been one of the latter entrants into the business app space with cloud. Early with Azure, huge success. It’s really been something that, that you’ll see a lot about and publications. You see that a lot in the Wall Street Journal. A lot of success. Microsoft’s stock has done very well since they’ve moved into the Azure platform and made that sort of a cornerstone of their company. And I think that’s an example indicative of what’s going on. So you know more companies are releasing more products and so that momentum is really starting to pick up. I’d say we’re kind of more at the end of the beginning and now we’re really going to start to see some more rapid movement. I don’t think is going to happen overnight. I mean we’re still talking about probably a 10 year journey before all apps, all businesses. It’s so ubiquitous to the business landscape that, just we don’t talk about cloud anymore, it’s just the way it’s done.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ron Rand: It’s not going to happen overnight but, but a big shift in momentum. So new products like dynamics 365 coming on the market and the advancement of look at what Oracle did. Oracle buys next week. Next week was kind of the innovator in the cloud space. Early, early adopter, they were one of the ones there in the beginning. But Oracle did a $9 billion acquisition to acquire next week. So that gives you a sense of the magnitude of what’s going on in the marketplace. So big advances there.
Matt Register: Well I’ll tell you what, the technology allows for a lot of things. As a business owner, as, as a… you know our audience, who was running a business, who is… the cloud and what the technology has allowed now. Allows guys that can’t afford to do this on their own, that don’t have the budget to have the IT infrastructure on their own to have a very, very robust structure. There’s a lot of features with moving to the cloud and it allows guys to get a whole lot more benefit out of it than they ever would have before.
Ron Rand: More for less.
Matt Register: No, that, that’s exactly right. And you know some of the… you know we were talking during a break. How it’s a little bit counter intuitive because we were talking about security, right? And how you know, my fear as a business owner would be loss of control of my data. Right? You know that your data is going out. But talk to me a little bit about that because in reality you know and again it’s counter intuitive. You’re actually probably the same or a little more secure by having it in the cloud. Right?
Ron Rand: So. So that’s, that’s part of what’s driving… I think that acceleration of, of adoption and more widespread, sort of mainstream use. Is people are beginning to sort of realize that, that there are other benefits besides just you know, features and functions. Although, there’s a lot more features and functions and you know, we can get into that if we have time. But, but to the security question, you know, the analogy here is if you built your house and you had a security service it patrolled your neighborhood, right? They’re going to spend a certain amount of time passing your house. So you only have certain opportunities where you’re really secure because you can only afford so much.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ron Rand: There’s an economy of scale question. The cloud, one of the benefits it offers is more a multi-tenant experience. So the analogy is the apartment building or the condominium complex or the high rise, you have to go in the front door. You have to go and do it where there’s going to be a security guard sitting there monitoring, watching. That’s what’s happening when you go to cloud. Right? The software publishers have their monitoring teams, they have their security teams. And these are the biggest software publishers in the world that you’re likely to be working with. So we’re talking about Microsoft, we’re talking about Amazon, we’re talking M&A Sep, we’re talking about Oracle. Those guys are far more likely to have higher levels of experience in monitoring than you’re ever going to be able to afford. Certainly as a small business but even a fairly large business, even somebody that’s you know four or five billion is going to have a tough time achieving that economy’s scale. So it is counter-intuitive. Ironically you’re probably more secure than you would be. You’re less susceptible because they’re being monitored much more aggressively with a much higher level of resource. And kind of an offshoot of that ,similar, It’s not security in terms of hacking but it’s security in terms of peace of mind.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ron Rand: Your ability, especially for small business to be redundant. So if we have a hurricane that comes through here. You may not be able to work for one reason or another but you’ll still be able to access your information, you still be able to communicate with your employees and still be able to talk to your customer or still be able to reach other people in other parts of the country. Why? Because even if your machine was not accessible in one location here you find a hot spot, your data is in the west coast or on the east coast or somewhere else, right.
Matt Register: Or both, right? You know redundantly backed up to where I am no matter what happens it’s not going away exactly. And that’s the that’s the biggest, biggest fear. As somebody who has bought software before in the past though, there’s a lot of choices. Right? And there’s a lot of companies out there and they’re all good. Right? How in the world does a business owner or a team, you know, within a business identify of all of the good options. Which one is the fit, that is the one that they need to to solve their business problems.
Ron Rand: And that is a great question, because I encountered that a lot. And what I think people face a challenge of it’s… they go into that thinking well which one, which one, meaning which one of these products is the best fit.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ron Rand: And the question probably needs to twist and evolve a little bit more. And it’s not which one is the best, it’s just which one is the best for me. That for me part, at the end, is the thing that I see many clients not quite get the conversion. They get locked into comparing a feature to a feature. Which one has this or which one has that? I think that’s important.
Matt Register: I heard this solution was the best, that’s the one I want. It may not be the best for them. Is that…
Ron Rand: That’s what I’m saying. Right. So what you… We know for sure that if we bring three different software publishers in here, pick them, whoever they are. We all know that each one of those sales guys are going to say theirs is the best.
Matt Register: Of course, right.
Ron Rand: So we know somebody is not telling the truth. So. So how do you navigate, that’s really tough. Right? So I think how you do that is you have to work with someone who works with those products on a daily basis. Somebody who actually knows not, not how… let’s use a payment example, not in a procurement example, not how to pay your vendor, not to press the button and cut the check. That’s what, that’s what someone on your team does. That’s what you do training for.
Matt Register: Sure.
Ron Rand: You need to know how to configure the things. Where are the skeletons, what’s missing, right? And you know that if you work with a software on daily basis. So engaging someone who works in more than one, who can actually tell you where the opportunities are but also where the gaps are. How do you make this one fit? And surprisingly they’re not all the same. They’re all good. I mean they’re all stable. Right? They all have their benefits. These are, like I said, the biggest software publishers in the world. So you’re going to get a good product but there are differences. And knowing which one is, you know that by getting into some of the details. And you do that by engaging with someone who works with them, who can help you through that process, give you a fit gap that’s real.
Matt Register: Well I tell you what, going back to the sales men example, you know, that are all telling you their product is the best. They’re probably not lying. They are the best for some people, right? And they’re probably all the best for some people, right? And being able to navigate and finding out where the holes are is, is a very, very valuable service. Your company Rand Group, this is what they do and they do world class. Is help businesses identify what they need, how to get everything talking together and to be able… but you guys are business guys as much as you are software guys, right?
Ron Rand: And so that’s why we’re not… So that’s why we’re not a Microsoft shop, not an Oracle shop, we’re not an SAP shop. Because at that point, we were really just to become an extension of the software publisher. Then we have to come in and sort of say the same thing. Well you know this one is the best. And like you said they could probably all make the claim that the best for a particular purpose. But what we’re different is, we’ll take a much more holistic view of the business. It’s about what are you trying to do with the business, right? If you’ve got us… if you have a project and an objective to improve sales. We look at it from front to back, what’s involved in sales. So whether that’s a CRM question, a challenge you may have there. We don’t necessarily view it as exclusively to that. We also look at how the orders are fulfilled, how the orders process, how do you invoice, what’s that customer experience like. And we look at the Web. Right? So just like these apps are going into the cloud, business are going into the cloud.
Matt Register: Yep, no doubt. And it all fits together. Ron Rand, CEO of the Rand Group. A friend of the show. Really, really smart guy. softwareaspromised.com is his Web site. Ron thank you very much for joining us.
Ron Rand: Matt, always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Matt Register: Guys, we’ve got to go pay a couple bills. We got a hard break coming up. We’re just getting warmed up. We’re going to be back on the other break. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.