Rainmaker Spotlight: CloudSigma’s CEO on thought leadership to mitigate risk

Robert Jenkins Cloud Sigma

Robert Jenkins Cloud SigmaCloudSigma is one of the leading providers of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), based in Zurich, Switzerland. It takes an open and customer-focused approach to the public cloud. We caught up with CEO Robert Jenkins  to find out more about how recent changes to cloud are affecting the way CloudSigma operates.

Clouds continue to ignite debate. What are you seeing as major trends?

There are three main trends just now. The first is the maturity of the cloud market. Customers are definitely becoming more discriminating. Things have moved on a lot since Google entered the market. At the time they were pretty much the role model and automatic choice. But it’s now clear that there are plenty of other models. People are thinking more about what they really want from a cloud, not just automatically going to Amazon.

The second trend is the move towards hybrid clouds, the way in which organisations are using public clouds and then running them alongside their own environment. Using a private cloud is not always best for critical environments, so organisations are moving towards a mixture. The third trend is linked, and it’s about cloud being interoperable with existing systems. Large enterprises want to know that they’ll still be able to operate their existing systems. As our customer base changes to larger organisations, we’re having to increase our thinking about interoperability too.

What customer buying preferences drive your marketing and sales priorities?

The changes that we’re seeing are more about our maturity, and that of cloud. We’re quite a new company, still less than five years old, but we’ve moved from being considered a start-up to being seen as established and more stable. So we’ve started to engage with larger, more risk-averse clients, and we’re definitely seeing a change from SMEs towards larger enterprises, which is partly us, and partly that cloud itself has matured. Cloud is now an established technology, so we don’t have to explain it any more. Instead, we can focus our marketing on our customers’ specific needs and pain points within their sector. It’s much less about cloud itself, and more about solutions to their problems. So our thought leadership has moved to being more specialised and not just generic cloud messages.

Which vertical segments are you targeting?

We focus on three main sectors, media, financial services and service providers. Media works well with cloud, because public cloud is a really good place to store open information. We’re working with financial companies, but not really on their client-facing work. It’s more their back-end processes, like overnight risk calculations and so on. The other sector is service providers, people who build services on top of the CloudSigma platform. So they’re using our tools to offer accessible services and usable applications. The combination of our platform and their services is powerful, and gives better quality of service and speed than either of us could manage on our own. But I wouldn’t say that we set out to target these segments. When we launched, we had the technology offerings and we saw what was successful, so it’s pretty organic. We build on success to expand in a vertical sector, and once we’ve proven ourselves, we tend to get more work.

We are seeing the role of CTOs expanding to embrace pre and post sales customer engagement, and move out of the lab. What is the scope of the CTO in your organisation today?

The CTO role is central to thought leadership. It’s about listening to the customer, and then being able to translate what they want into a strategic vision that can be implemented in a very practical way. In our market, a CTO with strong leadership is critical to steer sentiment in our engagements and help show the options to mitigate risk. As we discussed earlier, with larger customers looking at including us in their delivery line-up, we need to address their concerns which range across the security, regulatory compliance and exit arrangements spectrum. As CEO, I own the overall product positioning, but the CTO is responsible for technical delivery, and therefore the execution and customer satisfaction.

How has your marketing mix changed since 2012, and how does thought leadership feature?

When CloudSigma started out we didn’t really do much marketing. Well, that’s not strictly true, but it was only a bit, via trade shows. It was really to give us a feel for the market and some feedback. Recently, we’ve done more online campaigns. But we still don’t have large marketing budgets, so we’re pretty organic and tend to use social media. Our focus is on relationship marketing, and our relationships with customers. We aim to provide solutions in context, so thought leadership drives how we market ourselves. It’s very much about the ideas.

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