A moment with Jason Chin

Jason Chin, Chief Strategy Officer of the Helutrans Group.

Continuing our look at cloud computing through the eyes of the end user — Cloudtopia talks with one of Singapore’s top decision makers, Jason Chin, Chief Strategy Officer of the Helutrans Group.

Nathan Statz:

What cloud computing technology does your business utilise?

Jason Chin:

We are now actually using Salesforce.com, so we use the system for a number of CRM related processes, which are for front and back office. We use them as well in terms of tracking for all of our shipments. And we have a few projects that are ongoing to increase the level of integration across our departments and divisions of business. That’s what we have with Salesforce.com.

Now if we talk about cloud computing, we are also exploring to basically make some changes to our IT infrastructure. We are trying to move to a very cloud-centric (model) and now we are in a process of evaluating a cloud vendor to host all of our email and messaging services. We are doing quite a number of things that is related to cloud.


What difference has the adoption of that technology made in terms of cost savings and productivity?


Well i think that when it comes to cost savings — when you have a savings benefit here you end up paying elsewhere, I think the biggest benefit is that you are able to see your cost structure and cost components more clearly. With a cloud vendor you can break it into per-user license, so every time you have a new headcount you can see what kind of expense as compared to the old-school on-premis.

You end up with a heavy investment and you have to monetise over X number of years, so its less clear and you constantly have to make a decision. Then you have to try to guess what your capacity is and with cloud nowadays you can actually scale up or down very easily — i think that is a major benefit.
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Talking cloud with Sumeet Vaid

Sumeet Vaid, founder and CEO of Freedom Financial Planners.

You can dissect and analyse a technology down to the tiniest detail, but unless you actually get your hands dirty you will never truly understand the software space. Which is why Cloudtopia had a chat with Sumeet Vaid, founder and CEO of Ffreedom Financial Partners in India — to find out how cloud computing is making a difference to daily business life.

Nathan Statz

What cloud computing technology does your business utilise?

Sumeet Vaid:

In india it is almost negligible in terms of the presence itself, it doesn’t happen the way it does in New Zealand, Australia and some of the other developed markets.

For this kind of a process, for what we are trying to do, we needed a strong technology platform which will do complete customer lifecycle management. This is not about CRM, rather its about customer life cycle management.

(What we have is) equivalent to hosting the complete business on the cloud. The cloud solution that we are using today is a combination of Force.com from Salesforce.com and (we also use) Google.


What difference has the adoption of that technology made in terms of cost savings and productivity for your business?


A huge difference, we chartered over a year back and today we have close to 24 members. For us, what cloud did is it has converted our capital expenditure into operational expenditure. It’s great you know — from a startup point of view — as i am not investing up front. I’m not trying to go and invest huge into technology. What we have done is we have created a 3 member technology team which is trained on cloud both with Force.com and Google itself. What we are realising about cloud is it is not about coding, its about clicks. And that is very empowering.
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Projections by the park

The crowd gathers for Chris Morris’ keynote

It was a packed house at IDC’s cloud computing conference at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney. Overlooking the Australian version of Hyde Park, scores of C-level executives enjoyed finger food and endless cups of strong coffee before trudging off to a keynote speech by Chris Morris, IDC’s cloud computing guru for the Asia Pacific region.

Morris’ oratory was clearly well rehearsed, so much so that he even referred to the fact he has given the talk in several different countries. Having been to dozens of these types of events over the years, it was a note-worthy moment to see that nobodies eyes glazed over when the definition of cloud computing was raised.

One of the big attention-grabbing statements to come from Morris’ address, was the idea that we have seen the peak of email usage, with the future going to be focused on the rise of collaborative platforms.

This type of rhetoric isn’t all that new, The Wall Street Journal prophesized it in 2009,and many others then had a stab at the concept, including Gizmodo.
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Training for nothing and dinner for free

Dean Nash — a BizAcademy participant — talks about some of the more colourful elements of the program.

One of the perks of writing for a blog sponsored by Salesforce.com is that when a fancy soiree is being held, there’s a chance we get to attend. Such was the case when Baia restaraunt — overlooking the water on Cockle Bay Wharf — played host to the Biz Academy dinner.

On this occasion I had the usual mild concern that I would be in the quietest section of the table surrounded by socially awkward people who were only interested in staring at their entree. That thought was dashed the moment I arrived — admittedly after more than a couple of fashionably late minutes — when there was impromptu speeches, cheering, clapping and a non-stop whirlwind of conversation, all before I even had a chance to take my seat.

The function was the final stop in a week-long journey for Biz Academy cadets. The program is run for underprivileged youths working with Mission Australia and put together by the Salesforce.com Foundation. The aim of the initiative is to give hands-on business training and experience to those who may normally find it difficult to access.
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Chatter Mobile makes its debut at Cloudforce London

I have been witness to many keynote speeches in my time, especially those which were moonlighting as product announcements, though few had the same sheer stage presence of Salesforce.com’s CEO and Chairman – Marc Benioff at Cloudforce London.

Speaking at the Royal Festival Hall, Benioff bounded on stage to the sounds of I’ve Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Pees and captured every ones attention through the sheer force of his charisma. Now the speech might not quite of had the manic enthusiasm of Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer’s infamous developers chant but my attention was riveted and I wasn’t even there.

That is because the entire event was streamed live over the internet right next to a Twitter feed with all posts mentioning the #cloudforce hashtag.

Benioff was quick to point out that his first foray into the United Kingdom didn’t have quite as many attentive listeners. “The first time I came to London, I didn’t get to play festival hall — I think there were about 4 people who showed up, 2 of those were lost and the other 2 only came for the free food.”

The phenom CEO also voiced his surprise that one of the company’s customers in London was still using Lotus Notes – a technology that Benioff explains was conceived before Mark Zuckerberg was.

The event doubled as the launch site for Chatter Mobile, which is a real-time enterprise collboration application and platform. The technology leverages social features made popular by sites like Facebook and Twitter, with more focus on collaborative sales applications and less on Farmville. Salesforce.com actually launched Chatter back in June and today’s announcement is about taking this technology mobile.

“Chatter Mobile means you can know what is happening in your entire enterprise, wherever you are,” says Benioff. “The combination of devices like the iPad or the new iPod touch with mobile apps like Chatter that push information to you in real-time are making the desktop obsolete.”

The technology is aptly-timed, considering that almost every piece of mobile kit walking out stores today is internet-equipped and IDC has 2010 pegged as the year the world surpasses 1 billion mobile workers.
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The highest common denominator

Stephen Morse is the Vice President of Sales Engineering for Salesforce.com in the Asia Pacific region.

A few months back, I was engaged in a very insightful CIO round table in Australia discussing with over a dozen industry executives how the state of IT has been changed forever. High on the agenda was a chat about the rise of cloud computing as in the face of a new IT reality where organisations must be prepared to do more with less — and better — than ever before.

The most exciting thing — from my perspective — to come from these discussions was the dawning realization that a public cloud computing solution delivers the highest common denominator of benefits.

Now I am not talking about math fractions — I am speaking of the direct opposite of the common phrase ‘lowest common denominator.’ When you think about it, a customer’s solution is only as good as its current status and suffers from the limitations of that release — until such time as money is spent to upgrade or patch it.
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Homeless people and cloud computing… what?

Have you ever passed a homeless person in the street and tried to ignore that slightly guilty pang that ripples down your spine at their unfortunate plight? I have, particularly when passing people armed with carboard signs and McDonalds cups half full of loose change.

Despite the fact I do not reach into my pockets for the assorted beggars along Sydney’s iconic George Street, I still like to believe I am a good-natured individual and give where I can, particularly if I pass a vendor spruiking the latest edition of The Big Issue.

Quite a few years ago, I was delivering a soap-box style speech to my house mates about how the government should do more for those unfortunate people who are never sure where they were going to sleep that night. My oration was greeted with a few commiserating nods as we assured ourselves that our federal legislators needed to step up and deliver — though one dissenting voice belonging to my friend Andrew Geelen told me to put up or shut up, and outlined that if if everyone in Sydney donated one hour of their time per month we could practically wipe out homelessness. A bold claim and most likely not accurate, however it did inspire me to go put in a few hours at Teresa House where Mr Gheelan volunteered.

I lasted all of one month before I packed it in as being too hard.
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A new beginning

When we launched Cloudtopia several months ago, its aim was simple — to cover Salesforce.com’s Cloudforce customer conference in Singapore. And the conference went off without a hitch, although there were some tired Salesforce.com staff afterwards — we particularly liked our photo of director of Platform Research Peter Coffee. It was a big week!

But what we found through the conference was that we started a conversation with Cloudtopia — a conversation around cloud computing. And once they’ve been started, conversations are not easy to stop.

So that’s why we’re going to keep that conversation rolling.

Starting today, Cloudtopia is going to continue publishing. We’re going to bring you the best stories — as well as podcasts and videos — about cloud computing from right around the Asia-Pacific region.
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Cloudforce is over, but the memories remain

Well, it’s been an amazing two days — so much fun and so much learning went on. Our heads are spinning. Thanks to Salesforce.com for an amazing conference, some fantastic speakers and a lot of learning.

We think this photo of Salesforce.com director of Platform Research Peter Coffee late yesterday says it all. Catch you next time!

Marc Benioff loves change in the IT sector

The keynote speaker at Cloudforce in Singapore this afternoon was Marc Benioff, the chief executive and chairman of Salesforce.com, who famously founded the cloud computing company in a rented apartment in the closing years of the 1990s after leaving a lucrative career at rival Oracle.

I thought the best way to give a taste of the sorts of things that Benioff was talking about was to show you this short video clip of the CEO answering a question from a journalist at the press conference after the keynote.

In short, Benioff is an executive that likes change. His keynote speech this afternoon was full of examples of things Salesforce.com is doing to move its cloud computing vision forward. It’s all part of a vision the company is pushing to start describing the next wave of cloud services as “Cloud 2”.

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