I’ve kept away from AccountingWeb the last few days even though I get the updates on email. But this morning’s latest set require a response. In a comment to a post about discussing SaaS/cloud with clients, David Terrar says:
It is no coincidence that in the last 9 months the Intellect SaaS Group, the BASDA’s Cloud SIG and a third vendor community EuroCloud UK have all been formed. There is obvious overlap and all three groups are trying to address the clear market demand for providing better information on SaaS and the Cloud to business in all its forms, and to demystify a topic that is too often described with technology jargon, when it should be explained in terms of the business benefits it can provide. The 3 groups are trying to hit exactly the problem we are talking about here. Furthermore, Philip Wainewright, the chair of EuroCloud UK, myself as the chair of Intellect SaaS Group, and BASDA’s Jairo Rojas met with Richard Anning , head of the ICAEW’s IT Faculty (as honest broker or independent arbiter) on Wednesday last week to discuss an excellent initiative suggested by Dennis Howlett. The aim is for the 3 vendor groups to work together with the Institute representing their membership on the buy side of the equation to address topics like security (on various levels from data to single sign on to APIs) to see if we can agree best practice or some form of quality mark that all of the vendors could sign up to. What we don’t want is some complicated set of standards of the kind that OASIS and the OMG and other groups are talking about – whatever we agree has to be practical, and add value for the buyer (not the vendor). We have a number of initiatives that we are now working on, as well as making sure each group cooperates where possible and uses their resources on complimentary things. Expect some specific announcements soon.
This was something I hinted at in this post but didn’t feel able to say anything until someone else came forward. The initial meeting about this occurred the day prior to Business Cloud Summit between myself, David and Richard Anning at Moorgate Hall. It arose out of a confluence of things I’ve seen occurring over the last few months – some here and some elsewhere. I laid out a business case for the development of standards which made sense to the others and it went from there. The following day, I bumped into Phil Wainewright and he was immediately in favour of such a move. That only left BASDA. I also saw Dave Turner who is deputy chair of the BASDA Cloud-SIG and he also jumped at the chance of something coming out of this. That then required Richard, David, Phil and Jairo Rojas (CEO BASDA) to get around a table and hammer something out. David’s comment confirms that has happened.
As you might imagine, I am 100% in favour of this initiative because, as I outlined to both David and Richard, this achieves several important objectives:
- Clarity for buyers and sellers about issues that are currently causing endless and at times futile debates
- An opportunity for ICAEW to act as honest broker between buyers and sellers, demonstrating leadership for both members (who may have concerns) and more broadly as a body that has the public interest in mind.
- A requirement that all trade groups act in concert to help develop business led standards that elevate discussions around technology to a level where business decision makers can readily understand what’s going on and relate it to their business needs and concerns.
I cannot predict what success, if any, the group will have. And it is early days. As we all know, in love affairs, the early days are those when we don’t necessarily focus as well as we should. However, I do know that Richard is one of the most respected people around UK technology with the added advantage of coming from a background as a CA. If anyone can pull these groups together then he is the man to do it. Dave, David and Phil are people I respect professionally across many dimensions. I’ve recently had open and useful conversations with Jairo who I believe gets the need to collaborate. I have no formal role in the process but I would expect to be advised on progress, chipping in my buy side views from time to time.
Whatever tech people might think about this – and those of us who’ve been around this particular block know the past failures on many similar topics – I believe that the approach, which is absolutely business focused, represents a sea change in the way responsible vendors are thinking.
Those who might naysay should think for one moment: this is the first time anything of this kind has been attempted. It is also the first time I’ve ever seen three trade groups unequivocally support the ideas I laid out with no hesitation. That is rare but absolutely in keeping with the high speed world of SaaS/cloud. Each of the players should be given full credit for reaching this important milestone.
Endnote: the image comes from the companion piece I contributed to ZDNet that talks to the issues of international standards.