As soon as the ink was dry, I had to get to the airport. I was so excited. Dan and I had worked on Waypoint’s acquisition of Flying Fox IT for many months. When it finally happened, we talked about me visiting Australia. I wanted to meet the team. I wanted to see how Waypoint worked with their clients and their partners in Australia.
The biggest opportunity for Waypoint in the UK is to transfer that knowledge and experience, and use the lessons learnt from Australia and bring that to the UK. But when should I go? When I had established Waypoint in the UK or right now? I couldn’t wait. I needed to get myself down to Melbourne as soon as possible.
I’ve set up my business so it can be run from anywhere, so the only hurdle in visiting the other side of the planet is the time zone difference. I flew to Melbourne via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. For those who don’t know me, I’m a bit of an aviation geek, and to fly in such a new plane was very exciting. Super smooth flights, very comfortable seats, great screens for binge watching. Still, I managed to get some work done. Whilst travelling at 600 miles an hour, 42,000 feet over the Russian Mongolian border, I chatted to a Support Technician in Austin Texas who helped me with queries about work for a construction company client based in Surrey.
Dan kindly collected me from Melbourne Airport late at night. After a great night’s sleep, it was off to a local coffee shop where I enjoyed one of the best cups of coffee in the world. Back at Dan’s house, we fired up the barbie and my first breakfast in Australia was steak with a fried egg and avocado. I do like my food and this was an excellent start to the trip, cultural stereotypes ahoy!
Over the next few days I met with various members of the team. Dan took me through the systems they use to run client projects, and wow was I impressed.
I was made to feel so welcome. Everyone went out of their way to answer my questions, and asked for my opinion as well. I genuinely enjoyed every second, and the reassurance each of them had made over the last couple of months was truly correct.
Some of the systems put in place by Waypoint are the same or similar to the ones I use now, and it didn’t take long to learn. The beauty of all these systems is that they work on every device. Being able to access the information you need from anywhere is so powerful.
Deep dive into the world of Waypoint
The next week was a whirlwind. We met a large Xero accounting partner in Melbourne, and I watched Dan present for the first time. This meeting was fascinating on many levels. Before I went to Australia, the impression I had was that they are 2 – 3 years ahead a lot of small businesses in the UK in their attitude towards the cloud. I watched Dan explain how the right Xero add-ons can transform a business when implemented in the correct way. Listening to the questions that were being asked made me realise the UK is not as far behind as I thought. I hear all the same questions at home.
It dawned on me that I live in quite a bubble when it comes to appreciating the efficiencies available when a business links the right cloud-based tools with Xero. In reality, most businesses are just starting this journey.
Next we met Mat, who runs the Sales team at Waypoint. We flew with Dan to Sydney, and Mat took me under his wing. First stop was a gin distillery where we met with our Dear Systems partner manager and one of the engineers. Why a gin distillery? Waypoint have worked with them to implement Dear Systems and an inventory add-on, so it was fitting (and fortunate). We enjoyed a lovely evening in Sydney, and visited the Harbour to take in the sights.
The next day Dan had lined up eight meetings with suppliers, peers and clients. I loved every second! We met with WorkflowMax, Deputy, Receipt Bank, TradiePad and more big names from the Xero ecosystem. At the same time, Mat was teaching me how the sales process works, and how Ocius build strong client relationships. I learnt a lot that day and I am truly grateful for the time that everyone gave us.
An answer to a Big Question
We had lunch with the two owners of another cloud integration company and I asked a question: Why do you think Australian small businesses are further ahead than the UK with the adoption of SaaS-based tools? I wondered if it was due to remote working being easier due to the distances.
No, the answer was about increasing efficiencies. Australian businesses have very high labour costs. The wages are higher, the cost of living is higher, and the cost of doing business is higher. The market is smaller, so when business owners see the power of cloud-based tools to run their business it makes sense to test them quickly.
He proposed that generally speaking, UK and US businesses (which seem to be further behind with the adoption of cloud-based tools) do not have to be as efficient as many businesses in Australia. I found myself agreeing entirely. When I’ve seen businesses invest their time and money to set up cloud-based systems,the efficiencies gained, the money saved, the happier staff are with the new tools.. It’s so obvious.
First impressions of Waypoint
In a nutshell, I was blown away. The opportunity to see first hand the systems and processes that drives Waypoint really excited me. Everything they do is to make communication effortless. Working remotely in home offices and client sites, and even travelling between the two, just doesn’t matter. The systems the Ocius team have set up mean that, at a glance, the rest of the team knows where and what the other team members are working on. In particular, the team’s Slack channels are an incredibly efficient way to maintain communication.
There is no substitute for face-to-face contact, and that’s a very important part of building a relationship. But like so many of us who use Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, just a few words, a photo or a GIF can keep us up-to-date with our friends and families. Slack can be used the same way for a remote team to manage important details at a time that suits. It doesn’t interrupt workflow. Using Slack in this way has been perfect for the team to stay on top of everything that’s going on.
The future of cloud in the UK
On reflection, it was the right decision for me to go to Australia when I did. The reassurance and confidence that it has given me is enormous. The opportunities to help businesses in Australia is huge, but in the UK it really is just the beginning.
After Xerocon 2013, I made the decision to only work with small businesses that wanted their technology and their data to be cloud-based. I was told by many of my peers this might not be a good strategy. Well, I was adamant this was the future, and that confidence of mine (or sheer bloody mindedness) has now paid off and I’m really excited about the future.
There are so many industries and businesses that are going to become significantly different as a result of technology change. I’m so excited to lead the way.