“It’s important not to forget where you came from.” CEO Q&A – Ray Ryan, CEO, OSSM Cloud Solutions Limited

Business, CEO Q&A | Wed 7 Nov | Author – Business & Finance
CEO Q&A – Ray Ryan, CEO, OSSM Cloud Solutions Limited

In our next CEO Q&A, CEO Q&A – Ray Ryan, CEO, OSSM Cloud Solutions Limited speaks about the speed of development, keeping customers happy and incentivising employees.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

As I see it, every CEO has a responsibility to keep its company’s customer base and employees happy. I focus on delivering a level of service and value for money for our customers that they can’t find elsewhere, and on providing a positive environment for employees that is geared towards continued learning and development. To this end we prioritise training and certification plans to incentivise our employees and help them to progress in their careers.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

The technology industry moves extremely quickly and in order to succeed it is essential to stay up to date with these developments. There are significant opportunities for people working in STEM, and as well as keeping up with the evolution of technology, it is crucial to ensure that employees have access to accreditation and training courses to keep them motivated and enable them to take the next step in their careers. In addition to this, customer expectations have increased significantly. Businesses expect to be at the leading edge and must experiment with new technologies and methods. Balancing this with delivering on customer expectations can also be challenging.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

I really believe that communication is the key to keeping a team motivated. We maintain a consistent level of communication with every employee about where the company is going, what our goals and priorities are, and how we intend to achieve what we set out to do. In this industry change is a necessity, but it’s also important not to forget where you came from. To make sure that all stakeholders are aligned and engaged, we hold fortnightly operational meetings in which all departments take part. As well as presenting the team with a clear picture of where we are and where we’re going, these meetings have the added benefit of encouraging cross-departmental collaboration, giving teams the chance to learn from their colleagues and try something new that they might not have thought of before.

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

The main challenge that we’re faced with is the rapid pace of development, and making sure that we keep up to speed with it. Technologies such as Blockchain, AI and Machine Learning are becoming prevalent and it is imperative that our solutions are able to take advantage of these technological advancements. This is one of the key benefits of NetSuite being built on the Oracle Platform.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

A key trend now is consolidation. Companies (business partners and end-users alike) are aligning with platforms that they see as offering the most potential; Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite is a good example of this. This makes it increasingly important for both business partners and end users to choose a platform now and throw their weight behind it if they wish to avoid being left behind.

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

It would be great to see clearer messaging from software houses about their offerings. Occasionally, it can be difficult for the end-user to fully comprehend what is being offered to them, and streamlined communications would help in this regard. For instance, traditional on-premise vendors are keen to drive cloud adoption, but are not always clear on exactly what their offering consists of. Customers and these companies themselves would benefit in the long term from a more open approach.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

There are absolutely skills gaps in the market, particularly in our industry. We are very fortunate with the team that we have working with us, but finding the right people with the required combination of skills and industry experience is certainly a challenge. For example, NetSuite with its integrated e-Commerce solution requires that we not only have the skills for the creative side of web design, but also the knowledge of managing transactions through to the back office and all on a single platform.

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

OSSM Cloud was established in 2013. In many ways we could not have started at a better time. It was at this time when businesses began looking at their internal operations to work out how to make their systems and people more efficient and at the same time they were wondering how they could capitalise on new market opportunities. It was a time when disrupters were literally popping up in every industry.

The dynamic nature of NetSuite’s cloud based ERP software meant it was an ideal solution for both the disrupters looking to get up and running and scale quickly and the more traditional businesses who were looking to adapt their businesses for survival initially and then to help them compete locally or internationally. So for OSSM Cloud, this was definitely an exciting time to enter the Irish Market as a Partner for a global cloud ERP system.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

Although it is impossible to predict how Brexit will play out, my own opinion is that Brexit will present lots of opportunities for certain Irish businesses. The UK will continue to be a major global economy. In the context of technology, companies in the UK will need to advance themselves and if they are choosing cloud, then as a NetSuite Partner, we have a great opportunity to bring our skills to UK customers, where there is also a skills shortage. On the home front, I believe Irish companies will need to re-think how they engage and trade both with the UK and with the rest of the world and as such a digital transformation of their businesses will be necessary for them to compete.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

For me, success is continuing to drive forward and improve our service offering, while also creating an inclusive work environment where people feel that they are valuable members of the team. I take great satisfaction from steering the company and leading a group of people with the right frame of mind to help our customers.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

My father-in-law once said to me that while anyone can start a business, it takes a rare combination of qualities to grow one and it’s essential to know what these qualities are before starting out. To this I would add that when running a smaller business it’s essential to interact more with your employees. You’re all on the business journey together and people tend to be happier if they know where the destination is.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Having established the business in 2013, this year we were recognised by CIO Review in the US as one of 20 Most Promising NetSuite Solution Providers. We pride ourselves on being creative and thinking outside the box and to have been selected on this basis was very satisfying.

Q. What’s next for your company?

People and acquisitions are my top priorities for the coming year. I mentioned earlier about the emergence of e-commerce. One of our objectives would be to identify a complimentary web design business to fit into our e-commerce strategy. We are also heavily investing in further training and accreditation programmes for our team as well as putting in place a proactive recruitment drive to enable us scale up and meet our growth targets.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

Continued development of our own software apps and cloud adoption are the two most significant growth areas that we see for our business and for our prospective customers in the short-term. Cloud represents potentially the most significant development in the tech world since the introduction of the PC and I believe that cloud brings a huge opportunity for all companies looking to embrace digital transformation. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

From a brand perspective, as we are eponymously named after the NIST’s definition of cloud as “On-demand, Scalable, Self-Service and Measurable, OSSM Cloud as a company (pronounced ‘awesome’), would love to be synonymous with the Oracle NetSuite brand, recognised for our passion in everything we do.

From a business perspective, having our feet on the ground in the UK marketplace will enable us begin to build and scale the business, which is already providing services to our existing UK customer base.

You’re all on the business journey together and people tend to be happier if they know where the destination is.

Business & Finance, CEO Q&A

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