Doing Business in the Cloud

Posted on March 06, 2013 by Chris Kenney

Guest post by Michael Hugos

Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at the Markley Data Center Summit 2013, a one-day event bringing together some of the best and brightest thinkers and innovators of the cloud computing and internet business world. I am proud to be sharing a stage with folks such as John Patrick and Jeffrey D. Markley.

I’ll be looking at how the world has changed, how businesses need to change how they operate in order to keep up, and the role of IT and the cloud in making those changes possible. I like to say that the biggest way the business world has changed is that companies are no longer just responsible for providing a product to a customer and moving on to the next – they are now responsible for developing a relationship with their customer base and maintaining it over time.

Consumers are buying access to services more than specific products these days. Sure, it’s a mobile phone…but is it really a phone that’s being purchased, or an ecosystem of services? Are the phone capabilities just one of the services?

The way to succeed in today’s real-time economy is to respond to changing customer needs by wrapping products in a blanket of tailored, value-added services. The services you offer and how responsive you are differentiate your company from the competition. Customers are paying for the services and for the experience you are giving them – not just the product itself.

So, the question is – what role does IT play in today’s customer-centric, real-time economy? Well, IT and its many elements and functions have two key roles – continuously creating and delivering new services, features and experiences that keep the consumer engaged and the company top-of-mind; and enabling the collection and analysis of data from all aspects of the business, so that better decisions are made across the board.

How can companies and their IT departments manage the demands of the real-time economy – responding quickly, being agile and adapting to changing customer needs? The answer is cloud computing. The main benefit of moving operations to the cloud is the agility it gives your company, as with the new economy, responsiveness trumps efficiency. By quickly scaling up to meet demand and being able to scale back down just as easy, you ensure your company can deliver as consumer needs arise without permanently changing how your company operates.

Companies need to be strategically focused but tactically agile in order to succeed, and by using the cloud to enable your business, you free up some of your best and brightest to focus on key activities that add value instead of simply keeping things running.

I look forward to expanding on this and other themes next week. Hope to see you all there.

Michael Hugos works with clients to find elegant solutions to complex problems, with a focus on supply chains, business intelligence and new business ventures. He won the CIO 100 Award (twice), the InformationWeek 500 Award and the Computerworld Premier 100 Award. He regularly blogs for CIO and has written several books, including “Essentials of Supply Chain Management” and “Business in the Cloud: What Every Business Needs to Know about Cloud Computing.”