Starting From Scratch

Starting From Scratch

Evaluating technology options is never easy, but it's exacerbated when both the organisation and the technology are new kids on the block. How does a start-up company know that a new or unproven solution will deliver the desired result for the business, and also go the distance as the company grows?

Obviously one of the things that you do is look at the business model, Chandler advises. "[We asked ourselves:] ‘What was COMindico about?' COMindico is a wholesale provider of telecommunications services in a convergent marketplace," he says.

"You look at the map and the plan as to the products and services that will be delivered over time. You then ensure that you will have the systems in place to support those products and services as they roll out and as they're required in the marketplace."

Chandler says you also team with other people in the various business units, particularly in cases where you are being called on to support new products and services that are outside your previous experience.

"My focus, my background was Vodafone - being a GSM player. It helped that I came from a telco background; but there are new products and services here that you wouldn't find inside there. And, if you look at COMindico staff, it's a mixture of highly talented people who have come from traditional telco or Internet service provision-type backgrounds, or even marketing.

"So you've got to map out what is the business about and work with those people. It isn't about me [using] a cookie-cutter based on where I came from. It is a totally new business model."

Chandler says his team was under incredible pressure to get the software up and running fast. "In line with the business plan, as soon as the funding was approved and received we immediately shifted to the building phase. So we had to be ready to move forward straight away [with the implementation," he says. "We are in business here, and at the end of the day it's all about speed to market and ensuring that our investors see that we are fleet of foot."

Despite the tight timeframe, Chandler says, in some ways implementing such a major rollout for a brand-new organisation is easier than implementing it for a long-established organisation. For one thing, there are no "nasty" legacy systems to be replaced nor entrenched ideas of how systems should operate. The only migration is from some manual processes where people can easily see the advantages in workflow afterwards.

However, it's not exactly a cakewalk either, because being an early adopter has its risks.

"I like to joke that I'm trying to make sure I'm staying as far away from being in legacy situations as possible, which takes me as close to the bleeding edge as I can get," says Chandler. "So I'm all about finding these systems which I feel provide COMindico with the competitive advantage, the partnerships and teaming with the company that we're looking for.

"I often talk about relationships that are symbiotic, not parasitic," he says, "which means there's a win-win situation here for all who are involved. So there is risk associated with a brand-new product that's just been launched into the marketplace. I try to minimise that by looking at the [vendor] you're dealing with, seeing how robust and resilient that company is, its commitment to us and the partnership that we will have with them."

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