Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Cloud and The Customer

In my conversations with business owners who run mature, highly successful businesses the conversation often goes like this:

Client: "So what's the 'Cloud' thing all about? It's just like hosting right?"

Me: [explains value proposition of cloud]

Client: "OK so reduces upfront capital expenditure, but probably costs about the same or more in the long run"

Me: "Yes, once you add up all the costs, there's not really a substantial cost difference."

Client: "So why would I give up control if there's no price advantage. I guess if I was starting again it might be worth looking at. But there's no way I'd put my companies communications infrastructure and my systems with [telco/large IT company. Have you tried calling those people? They can't even do simple things right, imagine if our email was down and we had to talk to some offshore call centre to try and get it sorted out?"

And that's pretty much the end of the conversation about Cloud.

So, you might ask at this juncture if we are anti-cloud as a business. The answer to that question is simple - we are all about recommending the solution that gives a client the outcome they need. Cloud is not an anathema. It's the right solution for some businesses, but not all. So Cloud is valid where it matches the desired outcomes.

We could, of course, wrap our managed services expertise around cloud solutions to add value. But while the big players sell 'Cloud' as a commodity, its difficult to convince a client who likes cloud on the basis of a sub $10/month cloud bundle that they really need your ongoing managed services at $50 - 100/month. Especially without the advantage of white labelling and bundling a full service into a single bill to the client.

So why does a client need something other than the sub $10/month cloud bundle offered by a telco/large IT provider?

Because the client still needs expert help to navigate translation of their business requirements, to manage user questions, service provision issues, training, desktops, application integration, internet connectivity, back ups, disaster recovery.

And before they even get that far, is the average business owner or executive qualified to select the right type of cloud service for their business? Do they have an adequate understanding of systems complexity, risk management, etc to choose a service that will meet their business outcomes?

Successful businesses value their relationship with their trusted advisors - accounting, financial, legal and IT providers. Disconnect the trusted advisor from the client/IT relationship and results may vary.

As IT providers, we are far more excited about the technology than our clients are. If you can deliver enough productivity and profitability to your client that they can upgrade their BMW, buy a boat, have a better family holiday or more time off, this is gonna float their boat alot more than using 'cloud' ever will.

The successful business person is focussed on outcomes, not technology. Choose the right technology for their outcome, be that cloud or on premise.

No comments:

Post a Comment