#1 of a 2-part series with one of the original movers & shakers in cloud P&L accountability.
OneKloud CEO and co-founder Eric Didier is a very international serial entrepreneur. This San Francisco local, originally from the Champagne capital of the world, Reims in France, shares his take on why regional differences are so important in technology adoption & how the French & US can work to their strengths.
In part two, out next week, he explains why he decided to is help companies inject accountability and reclaim the control of their IT budget by building OneKloud, while disrupting the cloud infrastructure procurement process along the way.
What’s up Eric, can you introduce yourself?
I’m specialised in B-to-B businesses, so this means trying to help companies be better at what they do. This has been mostly related to IT issues or increasing IT performance. All the companies I’ve founded are about simplifying things. Making use of technology and the most modern processes to try to solve complex problem in the best possible way. Leveraging technology behind the scenes to make things easier.
What are you doing now?
I run OneKloud, which is my fifth company. It’s a growing startup that brings accountability to cloud usage, management and organisation. With all the hype surrounding the cloud and cloud infrastructure, people often overlook the big changes in habits that are unfortunately necessary to actually optimise this technology. Using cloud infrastructure comes with the big drawback that it’s much harder to control. For for the first time in the history of companies, there’s no procurement process. And on top of this the people who spend money on the cloud are not the ones who are in charge of the PnL. When I identified that need, ideating OneKloud, our cloud budget and organization management platform came naturally.
& outside work?
I’ve got three young kids, all under 10 years old so that takes a lot of time, I try to spend all my free time with my wife and my kids. We are French but we decided to live in the Silicon Valley because it combines a nice place to work with a great family life -the environment, the region, the behaviour of the people, make for a great combination in which to raise a family.
My big hobby is sailing, but I’m not doing enough of that at the moment, young kids and boats aren’t an easy combination. The Bay area is awesome for sailing so it’s a passion put on hold, but not forgotten. In fact the San Francisco bay is similar to another favorite, the bay of Auckland (New Zealand).
What lessons has your past professional experience taught you?
There are several: You find the same problems everywhere on earth, well most of them, but not all at the same time. And this idea of timing is extremely important.
This pattern is found in most things, a spread that is either super quick or very long. Think of the black plague of many years ago, in some places it took months to propagate, in others, days.
And today, and technology?
Take for example the adoption of certain technologies. For some regions and some specific technologies, adoption can be very very fast and for others it can take decades, but we find the same needs all over the world.
Today that’s the same with technology, it’s spreading across the world at different rates and following different paths.
Sometimes skipping entire generations of technology, depending on the lay of the land. Take the telecommunications in Africa where they went straight to mobile. In Europe and the US we had copper wired phones (landlines). But that required very expensive infrastructure -digging the trenches, making the phone lines, etc. And as Africa is not so wealthy, it instantly jumped on the wireless generation, without having to create cables all over the continent.
Problems, needs, trends are global but you need to make sure you make the right moves according to geographical region.
So how does this apply to cloud? & cloud P&L?
This totally applies to the cloud. It’s well know that the US -because it’s got ressources and a large surface is very efficient when it comes to infrastructure. This means the cloud works very well. Because it’s a technology that resembles infrastructure in many ways.
In Europe, there is a lot more history this means each country wants to remain autonomous, they are proud to be distinctly French or German. Each country has a very unique identity. Local sovereignty is a big thing (which by the way is - along with the diversity of languages, is the key reason that it takes longer to build things in Europe). Making it unnecessary to have a very wide, large infrastructure. Each country just uses local servers as the countries are not geographically so large and because everyone wants to keep to their own habits. The lesson from all this: when you launch something you need to launch it in the best geography to the best audience.
“It’s impossible to clone something without taking into account the local culture, the local needs, even if the need or problem solved is relevant worldwide you do not solve it in the same way.”
So be sure that when you launch something, launch it at the right pace, in the right pace with the right group of people, if not it may fail.
But it’s not just about the client?
No, the idea of global, local and regional differences applies not only to consumers but teams as well. Take, developing applications, over the last 15 years French people have got very good at building applications, they are very good at building application software, because of the strong French tradition of mathematics, among other things. On the other hand French people are not so good at building infrastructure, which in the IT world means operating systems, networks etc. And if you look at all the companies that do this best, they are American whether it’s HP, Cisco, Amazon, Microsoft, .... Americans are very good everything linked to infrastructure. Whereas if it’s linked to applications it’s usually French or European that come out on top, one of the better known accounting applications SAP is German. The French are very good at building applications and Americans very good at building infrastructure. So we used this, we develop OneKloud software with French people at our technical center in Bordeaux, because the mindset of the engineers here is the right one. But our headquarters are in San Francisco as our most advanced market is the US, where the cloud is so strong.
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