If you’re interested in understanding what the future of IT will look like forget trying to forecast how many trillions in IT spending will be influenced by the cloud. We already know the number will be big, very big. Instead, leave that exercise to the hardware-bound vendors trying to predict how much time they have left as standalone companies.
A far more profound and meaningful question would address the impact that cloud will have on how enterprises operate, even in the very new future. Last fall I moderated a Future in Review panel on the cloud and new operating models. I managed to find it hidden on YouTube. At about 10min 30sec in we kicked into gear and started talking about how the definition of a company has changed and the increasingly fluid relationship between enterprise and customers.
How your company is defined and its customer relationships are much more important cloud considerations than the impacts of cloud spending on IT. Example: Uber
Uberfication is more than Convenience
The term “uberfication” has already been used to describe a deep understanding of convenience, especially from a consumer perspective. Yet that definition is too narrow. Yes, we can watch a taxi automagically appear because Uber has built a transformational big data app that allows it to stay connected with drivers, fares and passengers in real-time. The real significance of Uber is in how it has redefined the taxi industry and established remarkably fluid relationships with customers.
Uber’s software, data and relationship with customers proved to be more valuable than ownership of fleets of cars and big yellow pages ads. The same could be said for a host of new app-centric firms including Airbnb.
In the last few minutes of the Future in Review cloud panel Azure’s Staten mentions a dairy farm in Israel using a big data app to track cows with bands (instead of bells) to boost milk productivity. The dairy farm is defined by its ability to optimize its cows for production (and reproduction). In Staten’s example the farm is using advanced supply chain capabilities to obtain competitive advantage.
The Israeli dairy farm didn’t need racks and stacks of servers. It used the cloud. Instead of rack maintenance it focused its resources on farming, applications and services.
Cisco’s Rajendran spoke about a case study recently presented at an industry tradeshow. Philips Healthcare used the cloud to manage unprecedented growth in patient medical records. Their infrastructure before the cloud could not scale to support the needs of their customers. So rather than give up and settle for business as usual they grew with their customer’s demands and improved patient care.
Uberfication represents an app-centric IT posture, not the magical appearance of taxis
The successful enterprise of the 21st century will have a powerful application or service that differentiates it from those with massive, increasingly complex infrastructures requiring escalating maintenance costs. They’ll be agile and innovative at levels most organizations today don’t understand. And they’ll be able to scale with demand.
So the next time you see a massive cloud adoption statistic, think less about the spend trend and instead of how your team can shift to focusing on innovation and transformation versus traditional information and technology (a tip of the hat to Staten’s comment).
The cloud is about the unprecedented scale and distribution of computing power. It will create a vast new wave of wealth, market caps and business models.