Employee feedback startup Culture Amp keeps hardware minimal with Amazon Web Services

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This article appeared in the February 2017 issue of CRN magazine.

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Employee feedback startup Culture Amp keeps hardware minimal with Amazon Web Services
Seven-year-old Culture Amp, which offers an online platform for employee feedback, represents one of the new breed of technology buyers.
Head of technology Sam ‘Frenchie’ Stewart oversees an IT team of just three, with cloud-based tools providing the foundation for the company’s systems and processes.
How do you organise your IT?
Our IT team is three people, two of whom double as security, and one is also functioning on internal projects like mobile device management, and does a bit of audio-visual on the side.
Do you have any on-premises hardware?
We’ve got some wi-fi access points and that’s about it. From a security perspective, we plan our office as low risk. Those offices could drop off the face of the earth and people could take their laptops home and keep working with zero impact.
When do you go to service providers out in the market?
We are not a logging business, we are not a hosting business, so we want to rely on third parties where we can. We do go market as early as possible, and we give our people an element of freedom. If there is a freemium model, they can test it out. So they might try two different ticketing systems and let it come out in the wash.
Is there room for third-party service partners and consultants?
There is, where there is a bit of a skills gap. But because we are an early-stage, growing company, a big part for us is building skills in-house. If there is a latest-and-greatest technology, we want to get those people and train them up, because that builds the valuation of our company. We have employed a couple of different agencies at different times based on different skills, but the general trend at the moment is in-house. And we will usually try and configure stuff ourselves.
Do you see yourselves continuing to rely on cloud product providers in the future?
The general productisation of services delivers a lot of benefits. AWS does a better job of hosting than we could ever do. They hire the smartest people in the world at managing these things, so it would be foolish to compete in that. The general trend I see happening is a lot of these areas are being fleshed out in terms of the different niches, and there are different approaches.
How do you decide what to focus on, and what to buy?
We want to be the best culture analytics platform, and that means if we are spending time and resources on being a hosting company, that is not time and resources we are spending on being a culture company.  
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