Remote working systems help suppliers beat the snow

Ian Gotts, chief executive of software supplier and consultancy Nimbus Partners, was less worried than most company chiefs, when the snow caused major disruption to the country's transport systems this week.

Ian Gotts, chief executive of software supplier and consultancy Nimbus Partners, was less worried than most company chiefs, when the snow caused major disruption to the country's transport systems this week.

Although half of Nimbus' 100 staff have struggled to get into the office this morning, the company has been able to continue to support its business clients, using teams operating remotely from their homes.

Nimbus, which provides services to multinationals, such as Chevron, HSBC and Nestle, has invested £60,000 in a Cisco and video conferencing system, which allows its staff to work from any location.

It expects to save £50,000 in travel costs in the first year, and £5,000 a year in telephone costs.

The company has moved all of its critical business IT applications into the cloud, through Salesforce and Force.com , Sales force's cloud development platform for enterprises.

"We have now got to the stage where 90% of our applications are running on force.com, including sales, HR, PR, and compliance," said Gotts.

The system allows the company's employees to access all key company sytems, from home or from the company's offices in Europe, USA, China or South Africa.

"We did an audit and we found that British Airways was our largest supplier," he said. "We needed to work more effectively and we need to be able to work around the world. We can't be spending all our time sitting on airplanes."

Nimbus is equipping its workforce with webcams for video conferencing and "soft-phones" that allow people to be contacted through a single phone number wherever they are working.

"My COO is in San Francisco. My head of international operations is in France. That should not mean we can't work together effectively. We need to work together as an executive team wherever we are," he said.

Moving to the cloud has also allowed Nimbus to make savings buy cutting its electricity consumption. The company has eliminated the equivalent of 15 top end servers, each with a power consumption of 500 watts, and has saved the cost of air conditioning and support services for a data centre.

"That brings savings in terms of how much power and how much heat we use. But it's the knock-on benefits, such as the ability to expand into a new country without having to buy new servers that makes a difference," said Gotts.


How moving to the cloud can cut energy consumption by 91%. Sign-up to Computer Weekly to download research from US analyst Nucleus Research.


Cloud services allow Nimbus to provide a level of service and professionalism that would otherwise be difficult for a company of its size, says Gotts.

"I don't think that our customers, such as Nestle, Chevron or HSBC, would see the level of professionalism without our investment in the cloud. I don't think we would be able to attract that level of business. We operate with a level of effectiveness and professionalism that makes us a peer of our clients. That's what they expect, " he said.

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