Why Should Business Execs Care About Cloud Computing?

I found this interesting quote in a gridtoday.com article about a comment made by Daryl Plummer, Gartner during a keynote at the Gartner Emerging Trends Symposium/ITxpo in Las Vegas earlier this year.  Daryl Plummer is managing vice president and Gartner Fellow.

Mr. Plummer said cloud computing is actually the wrong buzz phrase. He said people should be talking about cloud business instead. "Technology vendors will deliver cloud infrastructure, but those details must be linked for us all, or 'the cloud' will just be nothing more than a buzz-word," Mr. Plummer said. "We can't spend all of our time arguing about how to implement the cloud and almost no time talking about whether our business can fit the cloud model."   Quote was found at http://www.gridtoday.com/grid/2276394.html

I believe Mr. Plummer hits the nail on the head.

It is my assessment that much of the discussion going on in the media, blogs, and by analysts is too focused on the technology of the cloud computing infrastructure and how their offerings can be positioned to take advantage of the cloud hype.  That is, of course, very important work that needs to continue.  We will need to be able to have these technical discussions going on within the technical communities.

However, I feel we need an equal (if not more) focus on converting the concept of cloud computing into language that the business executives at our clients can understand.  We need people on our teams focused on understanding what new business models will emerge once the shift to the cloud computing model really takes off.  

We are at a state of time with cloud computing that is very similar to the 1990s when the Internet was just getting ready to take off.  Many businesses execs were wondering what the Internet meant to commerce.  What was this new technology and how would it help them in their day to day business activities?  Was it only a marketing communications technology or could it actually help companies grow revenues?   We know now, of course, that the Internet has enabled many new types of business models that could not be imagined in the early 1990's.

We now need to do the same type of messaging and business invention work with cloud computing.  We need to translate the technology of clouds to messaging that business executives will understand.

Many types of new business models have been created from the technology of the Internet.  Think Google, Amazon, eBay.  These companies were not around 15 years ago.  We need to be thinking about what new companies will emerge in the next 15 years because of the cloud computing trend.  We need to brainstorm and come up with scenarios, analysis, and reports that describe the business impact of cloud computing….not just the technology.

Business executives will want to know what clouds will mean to their business models.  Put yourself in the 'shoes' of a business exec at a company you know.  If it were me, I would want to know things like:

  • What will clouds enable me to do differently than what I am doing today? 
  • Will clouds change any business processes and if so, how?  
  • Will clouds require any new types of skills I do not have in house today?
  • Will my companies information be safe in the cloud?  How about information about my customers?
  • Will it allow me to develop new products and services for my existing customers? 
  • Will clouds allow me to reach new customer markets? 
  • Can I use clouds to advertise my products and services?
  • Can I use clouds to accelerate the start up of new operations in distant countries?  How would this work?
  • Can I use clouds to get better control of my supply chain?
  • Will it lower my costs for IT? 
  • How about energy/power costs? 
  • Will using clouds change the way I reflect IT spending on my balance sheet/income statements? 

We need to focus the message to business executives on what the future cloud computing infrastructure will mean to business models and business architecture.  Come on business consultants…let's hear from you.