Dilignet’s cloud culture

By Toby Bowers, Cloud & Enterprise Business Group Lead, Microsoft Australia

Earlier today, we announced the launch of the Microsoft Azure Geo in Australia. This is a landmark moment for Microsoft in Australia, but we’re even more excited about the difference that the new Geo will make to our customers and partners as they transform their businesses in a cloud age.

We’ve been catching up with a number of our partners ahead of the Azure Geo launch to learn how the platform is helping them to thrive in our mobile-first, cloud-first world.

For Melbourne-headquartered IT services firm Dilignet, the time had come to change its business model. The opportunities available in cloud-based systems and services integration outstripped the projected growth for the firm’s core on-premise desktop services.

As such, in early 2013 Dilignet decided to pivot to take advantage of the new opportunity and appointed CEO Jonathan Hatchuel to oversee the shift. “A lot of the work we’ve done at Dilignet over the last two years has been about shifting the culture, bringing in people with different skillsets and working with the founders, directors and staff to capture the cloud opportunity with Microsoft technologies such as Azure,” Mr Hatchuel said.

In setting its new direction, Dilignet was also conscious that large capital investments in IT were becoming increasingly scarce as Australian companies sought to improve returns while innovating and delivering new products to market faster.

“Customers’ appetite for spending up to half a million dollars on project work was reducing rapidly,” Mr Hatchuel said. “If we wanted to stay with our customers’ pace of innovation, we had to introduce new service offerings that shift from purely capital projects adding operational expenditure managed service and support models.”

It was great to hear Mr Hatchuel talk about the role cloud will play in Dilignet’s transformation, particularly how our local Microsoft Azure offering will change the way its customers, competitors and partners do business. He was also keen to stress the importance of complimentary partnerships in driving innovation, such as Dilignet’s with AppZero which he said will be “really critical to our success over the next 10 months.”

The demand for cloud

For Dilignet, the need to work anywhere at any time is generating much of the demand for the cloud, while agility and ‘cloud economics’ – where customers typically generate more income during peak demand periods, enabling them to cover their increased infrastructure costs – are additional drivers.

In addition, when implementing new ways of working Dilignet is helping its customers focus on delivering applications for specific business uses rather than the underlying technologies. “You know an insurance assessor is going to have very different needs than an insurance sales person,” Mr Hatchuel said. “A traffic inspector is going to have very different needs from a policeman or policewoman in a car.”

“We’re also giving CIOs the best of both worlds, in that they can run IT in the cloud while retaining some control over security, compliance and other requirements that the business holds them to account for.”

New culture critical to cloud model

As Dilignet looks to transform its business model, it was great to hear Mr Hatchuel discuss the culture it aims to nurture to support its new IT services delivery model. Three pillars underpin this culture: strong customer service, which helps it win business through word-of-mouth; collaboration, including encouraging technical team members to work with communities of their peers to develop best practises; and accountability, which helps the company exceed the expectations of its customers, partners and its own employees.

Innovation, which Mr Hatchuel describes as an “ever-moving target” for the business, and collaboration will play a key role in delivering this culture. “For any business looking to innovate, you need an environment where people are prepared to share and you need a stream of communication coming from real-life customer scenarios back into your business,” he said.

As such, Dilignet is adding more structure to the way it captures innovations, including introducing quarterly half-day meetings between these employees to develop creative ways of overcoming customer issues.

What’s more, we were excited to hear from Mr Hatchuel about how the advent of Microsoft Azure in Australia is driving a new level of competition throughout the business and encouraging innovation. “Our technical delivery team understands the cloud is here and they want to get on board and make sure their skills are ahead of the game,” he said. “This showcases our vibrant culture of collaboration and accountability.”

When we talk about the benefits of cloud, it’s easy to sometimes focus on its pure impact on the bottom line. What we enjoyed about our discussion with Mr Hatchuel was hearing about the impact it is having on Dilignet’s culture. It is encouraging a new way of thinking for the company, driving innovation, unlocking new business opportunities and delivering great customer experiences. We know Dilignet already have some customers lined up for our local Microsoft Azure Geos, and we expect to see many more in the coming months.

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