Here at CTC HQ, we frequently discuss the impact that cloud is having in all areas. It has been a catalyst for the re-invention of computer service delivery.

Implication: Cloud has marked a changing of the guard – with old tech behemoths being challenged by new cloud rivals.

Implication: Cloud has been a disruptive influence on the channel, with many services being offered either direct or via marketplaces, meaning that VARs, distributors and other channel players are having to reinvent themselves and their value proposition.

In many ways cloud has lead to the commoditisation of computing.

Implication: The commoditisation is especially visible in the competitive price wars between the main public cloud players.

Implication: It has also enabled the ‘as-a-Service’ economy where clients try a service to see how they can befit from it and quickly switch to rival offering if they don’t realise enough benefit, as they have little or no capital invested in it.

[easy-tweet tweet=”#Cloud has enabled the integration of disparate services into powerful solutions” user=”billmew and @comparethecloud” usehashtags=”no”]

It has also been an enabler in the integration of disparate services into powerful solutions that would never have been possible before.

Implication: These possibilities are especially evident within the marketplaces that offer an incredible array of services that can be integrated into a cohesive package to meet a complex requirement

Implication: it has also lead to a wave of big data solutions that apply analytics to a combination of internal and external data sources and applications.

It has enabled completely new business models that have challenged the status quo in a number of sectors.

Implication: this digital revolution is particularly evident in the way that Uber and AirBNB have challenged incumbents in their sectors.

Implication: other sectors will be impacted in the same way as cloud enables challengers to launch other new business models

Normally these issues provide us with more than enough to discuss for hours on end. Last week, however we had an opportunity to chat to William Fellows from analyst firm 451. In his most recent report: ‘Uberification’ – the cloud as an agent for digital transformation, he is seeking to look beyond all of this to see if the transformational power of cloud that we have unleashed on every other sector may return to transform our own – more that it already has, and in ways that we might struggle to foresee.

Defending Against a Stealth Attack

[easy-tweet tweet=”If you can’t tell who the sucker is at the table then its probably you says @billmew” user=”comparethecloud” hashtags=”cloud”]

The problem with all such truly disruptive innovation is that it’s almost always impossible to tell where, when or how it is going to hit you. I’m reminded here of the old poker adage that if you can’t tell who the sucker is at the table then its probably you. The only real defence against disruptive innovation is to seek to be a disruptive influence yourself. Obviously coming up with the next great innovation isn’t easy – or we’d all be doing it. There are steps that you can take though:

Only the paranoid survive:

The first step is to avoid complacency and re-evaluate your value proposition. A simple SWOT analysis of each aspect of your business is a simple and easy first step.

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View September’s #CloudInfluence Orgs

Partner creatively: 

Uber had the right backers including Benchmark Capital in 2011 and Goldman Sachs, Menlo Ventures, and Bezos Expeditions later that year. Then there was Google Ventures in 2013 and Baidu in late 2014. Even if you’re not a startup there are value networks that you can join and then there are the big System Integrators (SIs). Fellows sees the SIs, like Accenture and Cap Gemini having the consolidated capabilities including experience, processes and knowledge to act as the perfect partners for value networks where the smaller players provide point pieces to complete the jigsaw.

Copy and improve:

Usually if you spot a great innovation in its early life, it isn’t too late to compete. Google wasn’t the first search engine, it was just the best one about as the sector hit its main growth phase. It can be hard for incumbents (especially those with a large invested interests in the old methods) to switch to the new ways of doing things, but it is possible – and many established firms establish what is termed an innovation “sandbox” because it allows fairly complex, free-form exploration and even playful experimentation (the sand, with its flowing, shifting boundaries) within extremely fixed specified constraints (the walls, straight and rigid, that box in the sand).

Open to innovation?

[easy-tweet tweet=”#cloud still isn’t for the faint hearted says William Fellows of @451research” user=”comparethecloud” usehashtags=”no”]

Many in the OpenStack community hope that it can be the environment in which such innovative value networks can thrive. Fellows argues that so far Azure, Google and AWS have done the most to break new ground and that they are democritising access to compute capabilities, but they are not yet on the same user experience level as Uber. He maintains that cloud still isn’t for the faint hearted and that even the simplest marketplace still needs skills for integration and implementation. “We’ve not really seen our Uber moment yet – when cloud becomes accessible and usable for all.”

Here at CTC we will be watching this market closely, seeking to spot the new players. We’ll be out at the Tokyo OpenStack Summit challenging the community to live up to its potential and to make the movement easier to access (for those among us that aren’t rocket scientists).

“Two years ago you had to explain what OpenStack was. Now companies are interested in knowling more,” added Fellows. “OpenStack can play a disruptive role, but not as its currently constituted.”

We tend to agree with Fellows. Value networks will have a very important role to play and large SIs are possibly the best candidates to lead these. We have also seen a resurgence in our latest ranking from some of the ‘old empires’.

So before you get ‘Ubered’, start by being paranoid, looking for the right partners and looking out for embryonic ideas and innovations that you can adopt as your own. We’ll be looking too, and sharing our thoughts right here.

To see the full 451 report click here.