CEO Carlene Jackson interviewed for Business Edge Magazine

Business Edge

Our CEO, Carlene Jackson, was interviewed for Sussex Chamber of Commerce’s house magazine, Business Edge. Read on for the full text of the article.

Select Microsoft partner puts decision makers in the picture

When you work for a big organisation, it’s hard to get an accurate picture of what’s really happening on the ground.

By HELEN COMPSON

As Carlene Jackson, founder and CEO of Cloud9 Insight, a Microsoft Gold Partner, puts it: “If you’re driving this business just from spreadsheets, which so many organisations are doing today, can you trust the spreadsheets that are retrospectively pulled together and manipulated to tell you the whole story? “No! But you need to know what’s going on in your business in real time.”

Having cut her teeth at IBM and Sage, where she worked with clients such as News International and Panasonic, Carlene set up Cloud9 Insight in 2010. By then, she had journeyed extensively through the subject of customer relationship management (CRM) and the escalating need for digital transformation by any organisation of an entrepreneurial bent.

“Banks are often seen as being ahead of the game in terms of leveraging technology, so that was my starting point (with Cloud9 Insight),” she said. “Imagine the scenario in which business people do not have to depend on IT teams to be able to make a decision for a
customer there and then, knowing who they are and what their transactions have been with them.”

And that is exactly what the Dynamics365 Customer Engagement solution, with its Microsoft Access database at heart, delivers, she said. Cloud9 itself has grown in tandem with the nation’s digital transformation. Today it has more than 700 clients, the vast majority SMEs, across the UK. After achieving an impressive 60% growth last year, it is on track to grow by another 50% this year.

“This recession is not going to last forever and there is a huge amount of talent on the market at the moment due to furlough and redundancy. I feel that is a great opportunity for me in terms of adding to my team.”

The growth has been organic, thanks in no small part to the fact there are very few Microsoft Gold Partners in the UK working with SMEs. Most of Cloud9’s leads come directly from the IT colossus.

For the first four years, Carlene ran her business from Annecy, in the French Alps, a wonderful place to live with her growing family. Modern technology was the great enabler, until business expansion and the need to be more hands-on in terms of recruitment brought her back to the UK.

Now based in Brighton, in modern offices overlooking the beautiful South Downs, she has 30 members of staff – 12 of them hired in the past year alone. Far from being cowed by the exigencies of the pandemic, she feels this is the time to snap up the talented individuals out there.

“I am personally motivated by other people’s success.”

She said: “I’m very much of the growth mind-set, which is all about planning and being optimistic. “It is really important that organisations hire six months ahead of when they will need somebody because, A, it will take them time to find the right person and, B, it will take that person six months to grasp what’s going on and begin to contribute.

“This recession is not going to last forever and there is a huge amount of talent on the market at the moment due to furlough and redundancy. I feel that is a great opportunity for me in terms of adding to my team.”

She has chosen to tailor her services to two specific markets: manufacturing and professional services. In both, the relationship with the customer is paramount, she said. Communication is key. Cloud9Insight had a turnover of £2.5m last year. Carlene, who recently launched a second business, Cloud9 Learn, to nurture the up and coming generations of tech talent, is aiming for a £5m turnover and 50 members of staff.

“There is a huge shortage of trained digital talent,” she said. “We want to be part of mobilising that talent and Cloud9 is enabling us to do so. “I am personally motivated by other people’s success. I want to see people fulfil their potential. That drives me more than making money, to be honest.”

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