Everybody is in the Cloud Business
It doesn’t matter if your organization is a manufacturer, a government agency, or a travel agency. If you are seeking to connect and serve customers, it’s likely your business is becoming just as much of a cloud provider as it is a cloud consumer.
It wasn’t always this way, of course. Vendors wrote and delivered software, and enterprises bought, downloaded and consumed it. Many enterprises had their own internal IT departments, of course, but these departments delivered software solutions for internal consumption only.
As the Software as a Service trend gained ground, light bulbs started turning on within many of these enterprises. Applications and services could and should be extended, online to customers. For example, a trucking company developed online services to help customers track the progress of vehicles, and delivery schedules. A payroll processing company extended its weekly gathering of data from customers’ HR departments to an online portal. A shipping service provided customers an online tracking system to check the status of packages. A reinsurance company extended its rate and risk quoting algorithms to client carriers.
The funny thing is, none of these companies called their online service offerings “cloud” or “SaaS” when they rolled it out. It’s just part of a great customer experience, and a recognition that the online delivery channel saves time and money, while keeping lines of communication open.
Such services get provided right out of companies’ data centers. But they can just as easily be transferred over from another cloud service, and packaged, bundled and branded as the intended customer service. For example, one financial services data provider hosts all its data and capabilities with a large Infrastructure as a Service provider, which operates, unseen, in the background.
This is a trend that isn’t just happening at the macro business level. Drill down a little deeper, and there is a growing number of business end-users who are building their own online services, with little or no help from their IT departments. For example, consider the market analyst who designs his own enterprise “mashup” - with corporate data populating a map - to show regional sales trends. Or an executive who is able to take advantage of “self-service” business intelligence to create her own customized report, pulling data specified by her, which then gets shared with the rest of her staff.
Even on an individual level, technology is evolving to the point in which everyone is becoming both consumers and providers of cloud services. The lines are blurring between IT and business professionals. The lines are blurring between tech and non-tech companies. It isn’t just about building or deploying “cloud,” it’s about good business. And everyone has a stake in that.
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