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Cloud is Reshaping the World of Business for SMBs

2014/06/29

Cloud: Reshaping the World of BusinessOn Thursday, June 26, I participated in an hour-long IBM Business Insider Spreecast titled, “Cloud: Reshaping the World of Business,” where host Paul Gillin led the panel through a series of questions and thought points concerning Cloud and small to medium-sized businesses. There was also an associated Twitter Chat that used hashtag, #SMB4Cloud, that I participated in during the event. Though you can’t attend the live event now, you can click the link above and connect to the Spreecast and gain insight into the discussion that we had.

There were a few major highlights that sprang from the panel and participants. First, is the concept that mature businesses move slower to adopt new technologies than their newer counterparts do. Startups are especially onboard with new technologies, such as cloud computing, cloud storage, and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Startups don’t always have the capital to purchase infrastructure and data center space that can run into the millions of dollars for the kind of computing power required to run high capacity applications, to store big data, to maintain a potentially huge number of customers, to supply adequate bandwidth, and to provide 24×7 service uptimes.

Startups have to leverage cloud computing, IaaS, and new technologies in order to get into the market and compete effectively against established businesses.

Second, cloud computing allows companies, at any stage of development, to get to market faster than is possible with traditional computing infrastructure. Provisioning times with IaaS is measured in minutes rather than in weeks or in months.

Third, using a cloud provider or managed service provider (MSP) allows a company to use expertise that might not be available within the company. MSPs also allows companies to leverage these skills that might be out of their salary range. SMBs can effectively compete on a scale and at a speed that wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Only large companies could move infrastructure, people, and skills fast enough and on a large enough scale to take on significant contracts. Cloud computing has opened up new possibilities and expanded business opportunities for SMBs.

Fourth, cloud computing offers a high level of simplicity for SMBs. There are services available that are very easy to use. If the business doesn’t require a lot of customization or specialized services, then cloud usage can be as simple as a few mouse clicks, which allows SMBs to use current employee skillsets to step into cloud services without the complexity.

Finally, the cloud transforms IT people into business people. Fixing computers and troubleshooting problems now shifts to a provider. IT people are now becoming more focused on business outcomes, customer satisfaction, and business growth rather than day-to-day break/fix and operational objectives of running an IT shop.

Panelists:

Paul Gillin – Paul Gillin Communications, Host.
John Mason – General Manager, Midmarket at IBM.
Laurie McCabe – Co-founder and Partner, The SBM Group.
Subbu Balakrishnan – CTO and Co-founder, Good.co.

One of the panelists noted that, “Cloud works for DIY and “Do It For Me” businesses alike.”

That statement covers the gamut of what cloud computing can do for businesses at whatever comfort or expertise level they have at their disposal. Although it’s difficult for some IT people, even CIOs, to see is that if your company isn’t an IT company, then there’s no reason to be in the IT business. Cloud makes it possible to be in the business you’re in, but have the computing power you need to run your business without becoming an IT business.

The conclusions from the Spreecast and the Twitter Chat can be summarized as the following:

  • Established businesses must embrace cloud computing to remain relevant
  • Startups and young businesses use new technologies and adapt faster
  • Cloud computing enables a faster startup and faster presence for new services
  • Cloud computing is transforming IT from a service to a business quality organization
  • IaaS significantly shortens infrastructure provisioning times
  • Cloud computing allows businesses to focus on business rather than on IT

Cloud computing, for some, is quite controversial, but few would argue that cloud isn’t transformative and a paradigm shift from business as usual. Businesses that want to remain relevant and those that want to become agile, or even virtual, should examine the possibilities of what cloud can offer them.

If you’re considering cloud computing for your business, check out IBM’s Cloud Computing Marketplace.
IBM_logoThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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