When the ‘cloud’ wagon rocked into town a few years ago, it seemed like there are plenty ready to jump on.
It may surprise some that the technology that enables this term has been with us for years. The difference is that since mid-2007, we’ve found a cute short word previously used to describe something naturally occurring that we can market the living daylights out of.
These lovely, cute, simple to remember words have been manipulated to the point of exhaustion and in some circumstances, they’ve been used to avoid understanding the technical and business implications that are hidden in the background. Some use them far too freely and there are those that if asked, couldn’t articulate what they mean without highlighting the critical problem that is emerging as a result.
Our need for easily consumable technologies is self-canabilising the beauty of what is essentially to most ‘magic’ and because of this, many are lacking the commonsensical approach needed to effectively take advantage of it.
‘Cloud’ is now a bastardised word that on one hand helps the majority focus their attention to the kinds of technology they have been using since the Internet came along in the early ’90s, whilst on the other wraps up some pretty sophisticated technology into a cute bow without any of the regulations or research needed prior to its adoption. So, when this adorable little puppy you bought turns into a muddy out of control dog of a creature, it’s sensible to remember that it’s for a way of life and not just for Christmas.
Marketing teams that are mentally and physically disconnected from technical deployment teams fail to understand both the advantages and implications of these products and services they are promoting. Simply advertising ‘to the Cloud!‘ without any cause for concern as to the processes that follow is dangerous. From pre-sales, to post-sales, marketing must now evolve to be part of the ongoing conversation to correctly manage expectations. When it comes to ‘cloud’, education is key.
Right now, marketing in the cloud space is mostly all about generating a ‘buzz’. But as we’ve seen in recent weeks in the press, nobody has been successful enough to get a real hold of the potential this technology can offer, let alone have an infrastructure that can support it (that means you BT).
Those in the SME space are watching the bigger guys fight it out (see Jaguar Land Rover‘s (JLR) public flirtations with both Google Apps and Microsoft BPOS in just one year) and are quite happy to settle for a hybrid approach for the time being. It seems that right now, hosted Exchange is where the conversation is at and in due course, with a good mix of trust and reliability thrown in, we’ll start to see hosted SharePoint and CRM play a bigger role in our conversations.
What we’re seeing at the moment is a number of vendors playing a game of Cloud Poker. Everyone at the table is betting with their sizeable resources in an effort to fathom out the best way to go. Some, like Iron Mountain have thrown their hand in due to it’s projected unprofitability, whilst others are managing to subsidise their investment using other divisions of their business. Amusingly the likes of Microsoft and Google are also playing their own sub-game as they try to tactically outsmart each. That game benefits their large corporate clients such as JLR, Motorola, and Konica Minolta.
With all the bombardment of cloud marketing out there, it’s concerning that there are hundreds of businesses out there still clueless about what it actually means for their business. It’s the job of their technology providers and advisors to cut through the noise and help guide them through this understanding and prime them professionally so that they don’t make a botch job of it.
Be pleased when your clients and prospects get excited by the ‘cloud’ band wagon and make it your job to manage their expectations. If they don’t understand the potential impact (positive and negative) it will have to the architecture of their business (process and mindsets), then it won’t be long till that cloud goes up in smoke.
Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.