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The consulting model hampers enterprise deployments: Versent

The consulting model hampers enterprise deployments: Versent

Company founder says industry has a lot to learn from start-ups

Versent founders James Coxon, Eddie Smith, Thor Essman and Hamish Toll

Versent founders James Coxon, Eddie Smith, Thor Essman and Hamish Toll

The consulting and services channel model is a big problem for big business according to Versent founder and chief executive, Thor Essman.

“This is my rallying call against the consulting industry,” he said.

“I spent over 20 years as a client. I had thousands of people working for me at the NAB [National Australia Bank], I spent hundreds of millions of dollars and I couldn’t get an outcome to save myself.”

After his senior roles at NAB and Optus, Essman went on to set up Versent with a group of co-founders to offer services to the same market in which he used to be a customer.

Versent opened its doors in Melbourne 14 months ago. In that time, the business has grown to 105 people and 70 customers, doing close to $20 million in revenue.

“The consulting industry is set up to make money the longer things take. They make money the more people they can put into an account. It’s simple mathematics,” he said.

Essman said that the model of the services industry is one of the reasons many enterprise deployments have such a long lead time and often do not get the outcome the customer desires.

“We see all the time these $10-20 million projects that never seem to get the outcome or are not delivered as promised. That’s actually the services model on top of the products that the enterprises have chosen to use.

“Whether it is AWS, Microsoft or Oracle, the provider is irrelevant, it is when you bring all of those together there is usually a services organisation or a consultancy that is looking to deliver that. This means it takes two to three years to do something that in the start-up world takes a month.

“What we have done is taken the disciplines and the tools out of the start-up world, adapted them to the enterprise world in a standardised and highly repeatable way,” he claimed.

Essman said the traditional model for enterprise Cloud deployments was to put something between the organisation’s infrastructure and the Cloud, and this is a key flaw.

“Sometimes it was called an orchestration layer or a brokerage layer. We don’t believe in that, we believe that just like the power in your wall, there should be nothing between you and the power plugging you in,” he argued.

“We do what we call enterprise native Cloud and to do that we help an enterprise use Cloud natively as it has been built to do, but we give them all the tools and processes to run it like an enterprise," he mentioned.

Essman said in his experience, most enterprises would look at Cloud and think it is easy for start-ups but it won’t work for them.

“In a consumption-based world, you are only as efficient as what you consume. If you don’t have controls and processes in place to effectively and efficiently and in real time, manage your consumption, it’s probably not that much cheaper or more efficient for you to use Cloud.

“Gen 1 and gen 2 of Cloud usage have gone down that traditional route. They may get a 10 to 20 per cent cost benefit from what I get from Amazon but they are not tangibly switching to a consumption based world.

“We are the antithesis of that model. We have a fixed price and a fixed outcome. Everything we do is usually 16 weeks or less and if we can’t do it in 16 weeks we are probably not the right person to talk to.

“We are basically selling repeatable standards. When you plug your phone in the wall you don’t fight with the wall because you want the plug to look different. You have accepted that when you plug that into the wall, it’s going to work.

“We are saying why spend all this time adapting technology because you know it is wrong. Take it as intended, take it natively, automate it and then use it as intended,” he added.


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