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Servian Founder To Build Cloud Consultancy In US: Interview With Mike Walker CEO and Founding Partner of Vivanti

Cloud Consultancy

Vivanti, a data-focused cloud consulting company, has officially launched in the United States. Headquartered in New York City, with locations in Manhattan and Washington DC, Vivanti offers advisory, consulting and managed services across all major cloud platforms. Mike Walker, CEO and Founding Partner of Vivanti will be telling more in this interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us a little more about yourself?

My name is Mike Walker; I’m Vivanti’s inaugural CEO and Founding Partner. Vivanti is a modern data-focused cloud consulting company, which we’ve just launched in the US.

An IT veteran of 25 years, I’ve worked in a variety of leadership positions for technology powerhouses including Tandberg, Cisco and Amazon Web Services. I’m most passionate about building high-performance teams and empowering the people within them. I’m a firm believer that business’ most complex technology challenges are best solved with a people-first approach. It’s Vivanti’s human-centric consulting philosophy that excites me the most.

What is Vivanti and what specific services do you provide to your clients?

Specializing in the latest cloud data technologies, Vivanti’s practice areas include: Cloud Data Services, DevOps, Artificial Intelligence, Customer Engagement and data everything – whether its design and architecture, data migration and transformation, or the delivery of actionable insights through machine learning and advanced analytics.

Headquartered in New York City, with locations in Manhattan and Washington DC, Vivanti offers advisory, consulting and managed services across all major cloud platforms, including Snowflake, HashiCorp, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and more. 

What is the market size of the data and cloud services industry in the US and how is Vivanti influencing this industry?

The data and cloud services industry is growing rapidly; both driving and responding to an enormous amount of innovative change. The global cloud computing market is forecast to grow from USD 445.3 billion in 2021 to USD 947.3 billion by 2026 — a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 16.3%. Vivanti is on a mission to transform how the cloud and data consulting sector operates in the US by introducing a fresh consultant-led, customer-first approach. 

Vivanti consultants are organizationally empowered, and professionally obligated, to advocate for clients’ best interests at each step of every engagement — just as doctors or lawyers are entrusted to do. Our vision is to deliver impactful cloud experiences and data-driven innovations that promote a new level of customer-centric operating standards. Our hope is that this new way of working permeates throughout the US technology consulting industry.

Could you tell us more elaborately about cloud consulting and how it works at Vivanti? Why is the Vivanti cloud consulting significant and how do you guarantee value to your clients with data driven cloud consulting?

In my experience, many cloud consultancies consider their own priorities before those of their clients. That’s a dynamic we’re looking to change. And, that’s why I love Vivanti’s vision: We’re a consultant-led company with a client-first philosophy. It’s this distinctive approach that will help us drive value for the clients with which we partner.

We differentiate ourselves by always focusing on doing the right thing for our customers.  We won’t take short-cuts or adopt cookie cutter methodologies just because they are convenient for us or advantageous to our bottom line. This builds trust, which is critical to long-term success. 

Over the last 25 years, I’ve learnt that building trusted person-to-person relationships is the most important factor in solving business’ most complex technology challenges. That’s why I joined Vivanti as a founding partner – because of its unique people-centric approach to consulting.

Internally, it’s about creating an environment where our people feel comfortable sharing knowledge and opinions freely. Perhaps most importantly, it’s an environment where our consultants know they have the autonomy to act decisively to drive our client’s businesses forward.

On the client side, that means focusing on the relationship holistically, rather than the short-term bottom line. We do what’s right for the client, without compromise. We fully empower our consultants to make our clients’ priorities our priorities. There are no exceptions.

We believe our approach brings a new level of professional integrity to the cloud consulting space, improving the industry for both the people it serves and those who work within it.

What are the top consultancy trends to lookout for in 2022, and how must consultants position their business for the trends?

The cloud computing space is expanding and evolving at pace. Many of these transformative technology trends will accelerate in 2022: From the rise of the serverless cloud, data-driven cloud migration, continued integration of AI into our everyday lives (thanks to the flexibility of cloud-based datacentres), the dominance of hybrid cloud strategies, and mushrooming growth in IoT, Edge Computing, Containerization and Microservices.

When it comes to cloud consultancies working with organizations to harness and implement such technologies, some of the shifts we’re predicting for 2022 include: 

  • Abandonment of the transactional relationship: Organizations embracing cloud technologies know that digital transformation and becoming more data-driven is a marathon; not a sprint. As such, companies are increasingly looking for long-term partners, like Vivanti, to help shape their cloud strategy and execute key initiatives along their roadmap.
  • Teaching the client to fish: Gone are the days where organizations are happy to engage cloud services and consultancies without a significant knowledge transfer period built into the contract. Business leaders are becoming increasingly aware that they need to use consulting engagements as an opportunity to both build solutions and in-house skillsets.
  • The realization that trust is more important than likeability – and is earned differently: Most often, consultancies want to be liked by their clients. So, they strategically navigate towards the path of least resistance when suggesting and implementing solutions. But, like good friends or family, sometimes directly communicating some hard truths can be of the greatest benefit. Similarly, the best solutions – suggested at the moments when they can make the biggest impact – may cause clients to question their thinking. Being forced to consider a more difficult path forward can cause some tension in the short-term. But, if conducted openly, with the client’s best interests at the center, it’s an approach that has the potential to deliver superior outcomes over the long-haul. Moreover, it will help cultivate trust, rather than likeability, which is far more valuable for all stakeholders.

Which industries need cloud consulting the most and how are Vivanti consultants helping businesses meet-up with the demands?

Vivanti’s client-first approach to cloud consulting – which ensures our priorities are always aligned with our customers – equates to long-term client success, rather than short-term financial gains for Vivanti. Embracing this as our default operating position – just as a lawyer or doctor does – means we’re well-placed to deliver sustained value to our clients. Value, which moves far beyond the bounds of the initial brief. 

Companies across all major industries are harnessing the benefits of the cloud to streamline operations, make faster decisions and execute more profitable strategies. Some of the industries making the biggest strides include: 

  • App and software development: Software vendors rely on the power of the cloud to build products, collaborate with colleagues and enable clients: From internal considerations (such as tracking tasks, managing the chaos of ‘merge day’ and conducting automated QA); to customer-facing operations (like managing customer instances, support enquiries and accounts).
  • Manufacturing and supply chain: Businesses within the production industry operate in a logistically complex environment, with the need to oversee and understand actions being undertaken across multiple locations. The cloud provides a highly reliable mechanism for collating and monitoring data from many sites in near-real-time, within a single view, which is universally accessible across multiple devices.
  • Financial services and banking: Today’s finance industry is all about delivering convenience and personalization at scale via the cloud: From facilitating digital transactions, to automated fraud detection and AI-driven customer service bots.
  • Healthcare: Capturing, storing and accessing patient data has been historically time-consuming and fraught with privacy risks. Today’s cloud storage and security solutions empower practitioners and healthcare entities to quickly and securely collect, track and share patient information with other authorized professionals to facilitate better, faster caregiving.
  • Retail: Like the financial services industry, retail has digitally transformed customer experiences using the cloud: From using customer transaction data to recommend products in real-time when shopping online; to applying marketing automation and order tracking technology to keep customers up-to-date regarding delivery dates; or leveraging IoT to send personalized offers straight to shoppers’ smartphones as they walk past physical stores.
  • Automotive: Car manufacturers use cloud-based data stores, machine learning tools and analytics solutions to perform a range of activities – from monitoring production efficiencies and searching available inventory across multiple dealerships; to capturing and analyzing vehicle performance data, or developing safer AI-based systems for operating driverless vehicles.
  • Telecommunications: Cloud computing has completely revolutionized how telecom companies do business. Uses and benefits of the cloud in this sector are enumerate, but some prominent examples include: Ensuring high scalability to cater for spikes in network usage, faster data recovery with back-up databases stored in the cloud, quicker time-to-market for new services, drastically reduced operating costs thanks to cloud infrastructure, as well as the ability to inexpensively capture and analyze huge volumes of customer and transactional data in order to improve service offerings.
  • Construction: Thanks to the cloud, construction companies can share and access plans and designs across multiple sites, update progress in near-real-time, and better-coordinate different projects and tasks to reduce down-time.
  • Education: Cloud-based solutions in the education sector – from student administration platforms, to learning management systems and parent portals – have changed how the sector functions. Educators can interact with students efficiently, safeguard wellbeing, share homework and provide feedback 24/7. For parents, it means that actively participating in their children’s studies is only a few clicks away. Organizationally, schools can analyze funding and performance data – to gain insights across year levels and subject areas – quickly and easily.

Access to consulting services have become as easy as any other services with cloud consulting. Which companies are influencing the cloud consulting market the most?

Servian – Australia’s largest data-focused cloud consultancy, which sold to Cognizant in early 2021 – changed the consulting game in the Asia-Pacific region. Vivanti – backed by Servian’s founder and former CEO, Tony Nicol – is now on a mission to redefine the data and cloud services industry in the US too. Vivanti is bringing Nicol’s philosophies of total empowerment, governance-based and human-centric consulting stateside. 

Unlike many cloud consultancies, which look for repeatable one-size-fits-all solutions and bigger margins at every opportunity, Vivanti puts long-term client partnerships at the center of everything we do.

What Important legal and security decisions must one make before using cloud consulting services?

There are a number of prominent security considerations to work through when engaging a consulting firm and embracing cloud-based services generally. The foremost of these is data privacy and security.

Clients should always work with companies that have well-documented security frameworks, practices and protocols, which adhere to data protection legislation. This ensures that client data is appropriately encrypted, complies with cloud storage regulations within their region and industry, and meets ethical standards regarding data collection and usage.

A key related issue is data ownership. Organizations should ensure any contracts signed with service providers explicitly outline that data migrated or stored in the cloud remains their property and can be retrieved when necessary.

When embracing cloud technologies as the backbone of your business operations, it’s important to have a high level of trust with your cloud service providers. Robust, mutually agreed-upon and contractually-binding Service Level Agreements are important to ensure service reliability.  

Further, organizations should only work with service companies that are willing to operate transparently. High levels of visibility are critical for many reasons, but here’s two important ones: Firstly, it’s important that cloud applications aren’t provisioned outside of IT visibility (often referred to as ‘Shadow IT’). Secondly, internal staff need sufficient visibility so that they can securely manage cloud applications moving forward once a project has concluded.

Do you have any available opportunities for investors and partners at Vivanti, any more information you would like to share with our readers?

Vivanti’s aggressive growth strategy presents many opportunities for naturally inquisitive technologists, cloud services firms, and innovative solution providers. Our goal is to build a 1000-person-strong network of consultants throughout the US. We’re delivering on our growth ambitions in a number of ways.

Firstly, we’re running a strong cadence of recruitment campaigns to attract the best minds in cloud and data technology from across the US. Our total empowerment approach will breathe new life into the cloud consulting sector and create a new home for talented technologists to thrive. Vivanti consultants are fully empowered to autonomously act in our clients’ best interests at each stage of every engagement.

At the same time, we’re building powerful channel relationships with the industry’s most prominent solution vendors, such as HashiCorp and Snowflake. To bolster those efforts, we’re also proactively pursuing acquisition opportunities with existing consulting firms, in order to quickly grow internal capacity, expertise, new revenue streams and an enviable client-base.

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