‘Cloud computing has dramatically impacted how businesses operate’

2 Mar 2023

Ray Ryan. Image: Mark Bickerdike Photography

The Noledge Group’s Ray Ryan discusses the impact of cloud computing on the business world and how he ended up in his current role.

Ray Ryan is the CEO of the Noledge Group, a cloud solution company that was established as a result of a merger between two brands – OSSM and Envisage. The company operates in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and the financial software market.

Ryan has over 30 years of experience in the software industry, working with systems from Unix through to cloud ERP solutions. In his current role, he ensures that the Noledge Group achieves their goal of providing customers with technology solutions to make it easier for them to do business.

“As CEO, I have a duty to inspire and lead my team in finding innovative ways to enhance our customers’ systems, so they can grow their businesses. I am also responsible for ensuring that our team are very knowledgeable in industry best practices and the technology options available, so we can advise and implement best fit ERP systems for our customers.”

‘When confronted with a difficult situation, you must maintain your enthusiasm to find a way out’

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

Technology is developing at a rapid pace. Things that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago are now taken for granted. These accelerating advancements in technology have led to increased pressures on businesses to bring products to market faster to meet customer demands.

Business priorities are constantly changing, so we must be ready to adapt and learn. We need to be able to quickly process a lot of information and ensure that we are always several steps ahead for our customers.

To address this challenge, we keep innovating solutions by thinking creatively so our customers can scale quickly and pivot as required. We also take time to really understand our customers’ needs, which allows us to anticipate issues and offer solutions before they become real problems.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Cloud computing has dramatically impacted how businesses operate. When the pandemic began two years ago, businesses were forced to digitally transform overnight or at the very least solve the remote working challenge. Maintaining that momentum and commitment is now imperative.

Cloud technology allows businesses to grow and scale quickly, innovate at lightning speed, and expand into new markets. We help customers digitally transform by implementing flexible cloud solutions for them in the areas of manufacturing, services, field services, distribution & digital commerce, and retail.

Our solutions transform our customers into higher performance businesses, by removing inefficiencies and enhancing cross-departmental transparency.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I’ve always been interested in technology and becoming an entrepreneur. Having been involved in warehousing at an early age and seeing the paper chase that led to simple repetitive tasks becoming very time consuming, I became passionate about looking for ways to improve processes and streamline operations.

I discovered that I could make it simpler for individuals to operate their businesses by using smarter tools, and with that in mind, I began to consider starting a business of my own to try to simplify this process and make life easier for people using technology.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Taking the leap to start a company of my own from scratch, and on a shoestring budget has to be the biggest risk. I had a steady, well-paid job, which I really enjoyed, but I also had a dream of setting up my own business. Like most start-ups at that time, we had no external funding, yet we managed to grow organically and develop an incredible team to support our customers.

Thankfully, the risk turned into a reward. We now employ a fantastic team of 42 people and have achieved more than €4m turnover in the last year.

What one work skill do you wish you had?

I spend so much time writing, so a year ago I would have said that I wish I could save some time here, by improving my typing proficiency.

However, with the recent introduction of AI applications like ChatGPT3 it seems that technology is now addressing my personal needs. Having said that, while using these new technology tools can save time, you cannot beat picking up the phone and having a good old conversation.

How do you get the best out of your team?

For me, it’s about understanding what motivates and drives them. Empathy is essential. Everyone has something that is significant to them, and in order to truly understand what drives someone, you must be empathetic.

Many of our employees deal with extra difficulties every day, like juggling family and work commitments. I understand these difficulties, and I encourage our team to create work schedules that suit their needs.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

There will always be more that we can do to ensure better diversity in the workplace. While the problem hasn’t been solved in our sector, I think we are taking strides in the right direction. It’s important for businesses to make it a priority as greater diversity leads to more creative thinking and subsequent better ideas.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

My father-in-law, Richard O’Neil, once told me, “There are two things that you need in business – cash flow and enthusiasm. If you do not have either, you’ll never have a business.”

When confronted with a difficult situation, you must maintain your enthusiasm to find a way out. During difficult times, I would tell myself that I could manage cashflow, but that if I lost enthusiasm, there would be no hope.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christensen – the best business book I’ve ever read – highlights the importance of promoting innovation to customers. A successful business can do everything right but still fail if it does not know when to abandon conventional business practices.

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel is another book I really enjoyed as it offers insights into how people think about money – investing, personal finance and business decisions – which is essential when growing your own business.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

KPI’s, dashboards and scheduling tools help me manage my business by giving me an overview of my overall business performance. Collaboration tools help me manage my professional relationships by connecting with people daily, while our wellbeing platform, Spectrum Life, keeps me mentally active, as I can access a digital gym, meditation, podcast, nutrition and counselling, at my desktop or my fingertips.

In my down time, I enjoy running and playing the guitar (just not simultaneously). Running helps me focus, and playing the guitar helps me relax.

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