From a career in computer gaming to the cloud

13 Mar 2019

Ray Ryan. Image: OSSM Cloud Solutions

This week on Leaders’ Insights, entrepreneur Ray Ryan explains his pivot to the cloud industry and why he’s a to-do list addict.

Ray Ryan is the founder and CEO at OSSM Cloud Solutions. The company is an accredited Oracle NetSuite Partner, and is based in Dublin with clients across Ireland and the UK.

Prior to this, Ryan was managing director with Advent Processing Solutions, which merged with ADP Business Solutions in 2014 to become Envisage Cloud.

With more than 25 years’ experience in the software industry, Ryan saw the gap for a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution targeted at mid-sized manufacturing, distribution, e-commerce and service organisations, and thus OSSM Cloud Solutions was born in 2013.

Describe your role and what you do.

As CEO, my role requires me to wear many organisational hats; however, my primary role is to grow the business. Alongside this, another key task of mine is being able to clearly identify customers’ requirements and utilise the skills available in our business, along with emerging technologies, to meet and exceed our customers’ needs.

Getting it ‘right first time’ is OSSM Cloud’s mantra and, for me, having the best and most skilled people available is critical to achieving success.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I am a self-confessed to-do list addict. Although I use technology rather than pen and paper, the idea is still the same. I was taught from an early business age to plan my work and work my plan, meaning each day I am a man on a mission – I set my objectives and tasks and off I go.

Having a great team around me enables me to really focus on the ‘to-dos’ that move the business forward. Even in a growing business, it is essential to delegate. It’s very easy to get absorbed into the day-to-day activities; I need to keep the bigger picture in mind and focus on growing the business.

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

Maintaining a highly skilled team who are educated and up to date with evolving technologies is the biggest challenge facing companies in the IT sector. Continuous education and learning are fundamental to our business as we work with cutting-edge cloud technology. We continually invest in training and development for our team; for example, we currently are getting involved with Oracle NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess programme, which is a proven methodology for rolling out Oracle NetSuite into specific sectors.

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

As more and more businesses are realising the benefits of cloud computing, its adoption is continuing to grow rapidly. We have seen increased demand for our services from businesses in areas including e-commerce, wholesale distribution, end-to-end manufacturing and project management.

‘I was taught from an early business age to plan my work and work my plan, meaning each day I am a man on a mission’

Also, as we offer the Oracle Platform, this brings additional opportunities in unified communication, AI, machine learning and blockchain. It means we can offer a unified, true cloud end-to-end solution to customers.

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

I have a long history with emerging technology trends. This started with my involvement in computer gaming in the ’80s, continued with my work with Unix operating systems in the early ’90s, then followed Windows, and finally now I am immersed in cloud. For me, it’s about identifying trends, moving forward all the time, and staying relevant for both customers and employees.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Throughout my career I have learned that timing is everything. I thought that computer gaming had had its day in the ’80s and so I moved direction. Then Microsoft stepped into the market and the rest is history. I learned that watching the trends and opportunities and finding the right time to make a move is critical. Doing the right thing at the wrong time can also be very damaging and sometimes you don’t get that second chance. These learnings tie into the OSSM Cloud mantra of ‘right first time’.

red-haired man in white shirt standing outside with grey buildings n the background.

Ray Ryan. Image: OSSM Cloud Solutions

How do you get the best out of your team?

Delegating, trust and empowerment are vital for getting the best out of people. As a leader, I realise that I cannot maintain involvement in every aspect of the business if I want to successfully focus on growth. I believe that it’s important to have trust in my team and accentuate the positives. I like to give open recognition for all achievements and assess failure by standing in the other person’s shoes to try see it from their side. This way, we all learn together.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and other demographics. Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector? What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to be more inclusive?

At OSSM Cloud, we are strong supporters of diversity and believe it is important to encourage everyone to consider a career in STEM. In terms of recruitment and career progression, we adopt a simple attitude that the best person for the role should always be chosen. The suitability of the person to the role is all that matters to us and this will always be beneficial to the whole company.

Who is your role model and why?

I am an admirer of Elon Musk and his array of projects. He sticks to his guns and gets back up again when he falls. He has a strong belief in everything he does and is equally passionate that his ideas are empowering a better future world for all. Earlier in my career I was advised never to judge a person by how many times they fall but by how many times they get back up, and experience has made me appreciate this advice.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark. It’s all about the awareness of artificial intelligence and its impact on future life on Earth and beyond. It’s fascinating, if slightly scary.

I would also recommend The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. It’s another great read that delves into the dilemma as to why it is possible for market leaders and incumbents to fail to embrace new technologies in their respective fields.

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

As I mentioned, I am a list man. My iPhone, with my NetSuite app, is essential as it keeps me up to date on figures and KPIs for the business. At a quick glance I can see exactly where we are on client projects and sales; it also enables me to manage my expenses and diary.

Regular operations meetings with the OSSM Cloud team are a really important part of my working week. This gives me a chance to touch base with the team on our progress, and discuss opportunities and any issues that have cropped up. We also identify the key priorities for the next week at this meeting.

I’m a keen runner and aim to get three decent runs in every week. Running helps me clear my head and get a fresh perspective on things.

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