Please could you tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do?
I am a lifelong technologist with a global perspective, having worked for 30 years in multiple roles for enterprise IT teams, as a leading industry analyst, and with several software vendors across Europe, US, and Asia-Pacific.
Currently, I work at Splunk as a strategic advisor, learning from research, customers, thought leaders, so I can advocate and lead innovative product development internally; and advocate and advise customers and others externally at conferences, in journals, and directly with technology and business leaders.
How would you describe the UK Cloud Awards in a nutshell?
Best in show! The UK Cloud Awards offer a revealing look at how IT is driving UK businesses forward and recognises ‘the best of the best’ in excellence and innovation.
What appealed to you about becoming a judge for this year’s UK Cloud Awards?
As a newbie to the UK Cloud Awards, I was particularly excited just to learn from all the entrants, and see the innovation and expertise they are bringing to the industry.
Beyond that, I was also attracted by the opportunity to leverage my own experience and expertise in cloud, digital, automation, and more to help recognise modern leaders who are making a difference to how businesses benefit from technology.
What are you most looking forward to about being involved in this year’s awards?
Without a doubt, I am most looking forward to learning about the amazing developments, innovations, and especially the business impact that this year’s award nominees are bringing to the UK, and to the world.
This year’s awards have had a bit of a makeover, with new categories and some other tweaks. Tell us why people should be getting excited about all of that/the awards?
Today, every business is a technology business – and not just a cloud business, or an IoT business, or a digital business. Today, every technology matters – it may be a new DevOps approach that tips you over the edge to beat your closest competitors; it may be a collaboration project that drives customer satisfaction to record levels; it may be a big data analytics outcome that delivers new sales and builds revenue; and so on.
It is not enough to have excellence in just one area, so this years’ awards recognizes that technology differentiation matters across the board, by shining a light on outstanding achievements across many different technologies and methodologies.
Do you have a category/categories you’re most excited about?
I am most excited for the Digital Transformation Project of the Year, the DevOps Project of the Year, and the ML/AI Project of the Year categories. Digital Transformation is a buzzword-made-real that is changing not just the IT industry, but really is changing the worlds, so I have high expectations to be amazed by entrants in this category. I have been deeply engaged with DevOps for about a decade – almost as long as anyone – but love to keep learning from practitioners, so I expect to learn from this category.
With my work, I am heavily focused on how businesses bring data, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to everything from IT Ops/App Dev and cyber security to BI to Edge and IoT, so I expect to be fascinated to see the innovative developments in this category.
What are you looking for when you’re reading an entry? How can people make sure theirs stands out?
I will certainly be looking at how innovative or differentiated the entry is, but primarily I will look for the impact that the project, technology, or approach has had on business goals – or for non-profits, on constituent or member outcomes. We can all deliver new technology, but innovation is much more than having a good idea – imagination without execution is merely hallucination!
For me, it is not enough to demonstrate how amazing a technology implementation is per se, entrants must show why it mattered. If they can show – especially in real, measurable ways – how their entry has delivered on specific, important, business-level goals, they will have a much better chance of getting a vote from me.
What would you say to those thinking about entering but haven’t fully decided to do so as yet?
Why wait?! You cannot win if you don’t enter! Even to make the shortlist will be a major source of inspiration, not just for managers, not just for marketing, but for the teams of individual contributors who did the hard work, likely over many months or even years, to make your project a success.
So, if you are not going to enter for the amazing prizes, for the accolades of your peers, for the management recognition, or for the opportunity to market your win to customers, do it to show the hard workers who made your project possible that this is an achievement you are proud of, and which you want to show off to the world.
Do you have a standout cloud moment from 2019?
Not one single moment, but I would cite the number and severity of major breaches of cloud-based data that have thrown some cold water on the raging fire of cloud computing. This continues to be something our industry needs to address.
Security, privacy, compliance, governance – these should be job #1 for any business. Customers are demanding it, but too many cloud providers are not living up to their promises. It is up to the cloud customers to make that change and make security a priority.