Navigating The Cloud Wave

Posted on January 25, 2010


So, you’ve run a tight ship for the past 18 months, battening down the hatches, freezing hires, and going into a virtual operations lockdown waiting for the proverbial “rainy day” to stop and the sun to come out – corporate hibernation.

That’s a sensible legacy business approach to technology capital and operations expenditures in recessionary economic climates for previous decades, when your competitors followed a similar approach given limited alternatives, and only a few corporate giants had the war chest to invest in a downturn.

The good news is that with cloud computing this decade will differ in many ways, from business strategy and driving your offering portfolio into the marketplace, to ongoing operations and support, and that includes your company’s ability to continue to operate right through the next recession at peak efficiency while adjusting for market demand without skipping a beat.

That’s where your competitors will be in 3 to 5 years; perhaps 10 years for very large organizations that are now highly dependent on legacy technology, processes, and partners to deliver their product, solution or service to their customers.

Where will you be? Will you be in lockdown mode, or using a flexible business model that allows you to quickly bring down your costs?

Why should you care? Throughout business history those companies that best adapted and leveraged changes in the technology landscape have survived and thrived.

What should you do now? Begin to think about your product, processes, partnerships, and people through the lens of technology innovations, web 2.0, and cloud computing.

When should you begin? Now would not be too soon. In the early days of the Internet few companies knew what to make of it or what to do with it.  Today, your competitors leverage it to improve their business.  Cloud computing technologies promise to cut costs making companies more efficient and highly competitive.

Where should you start? Research would be a good place to start.  Try out some of the offerings in the marketplace, and see how they might make your organization more flexible and resilient.  Look at your workloads and analyze which ones you can outsource.

Who should you entrust with this work? Large organizations have technology departments and resources to explore the possibilities, but if you’re a smaller organization, you may want to seek out the advice of an outside consultant, if that sounds a bit too much, then someone in your organization that is a change agent or is passionate about driving out inefficiencies.

For starters, take a look the areas below, evaluate the workloads, and consider the implications of changing, and weigh it against the risk of inaction.

People – Do you have the right people who are passionate about innovation, change, and reducing organizational inefficiency and costs, or do your employees just clock out at 5pm and don’t give another thought to the business?

Process – How will adopting cloud computing change your processes?  Which business processes can you outsource and how will that change your business?

– This is an obvious one for software vendors as they begin to offer their application as-a-service, but even if you’re not a software vendor you should consider what impact these changes may have on your product offerings.

– It may be difficult to assess the impact such changes could bring upon your partnerships, but it is necessary to understand how those relationships will be affected.  Perhaps it’ll mean new partnerships may have to be developed or existing partners suddenly become key competitors.

The coming decade will result in an explosion of innovation due to cloud computing.  I realize that this is contrary to many reports on the current state of innovation in the U.S. and the call for more R&D investment to increase innovation (which I support).

That being said, investment is one side of the coin, if the costs of execution and communication drop dramatically, the result, in my opinion, is an increase in innovation.  Just look at the innovations since the costs of Internet access and technology have dropped.  That trend should continue well into the new decade.

-Tune The Future-