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Are you in the Race?


By Mark Adams, CCO of Cloudmore

When our heroic Olympians started preparing for the great event that was London 2012, they had no doubt what the job was. Everyone of them was in a race, a race to be the fastest, highest, or longest it did not matter. There will probably be much written about why we were able to be more successful than we ever could imagined. There will be no question that one key element was: preparation. The athletes knew when they had to reach peak performance, they knew where they were going to race and they knew all about their competition, their strengths, their weaknesses and so built a picture of what was needed to beat them.

When I joined Cobweb Solutions as M.D in 2003, there was no Race to the Cloud, there was no competition, there weren’t any customers! When working in a nascent, very early adopter market, it is not so hard to figure out a sales strategy: 1. ensure those early adopters can find you and 2. when they do find you then ensure that you have the best offer/story. I knew that in those early days of SaaS and Cloud, credibility was the key to adoption, not so important at the SMB level but I wanted to, and did succeed in, attracting bigger customers. So we implemented a program of Quality Assurance, purchased the best technologies we could afford and built the biggest pure-play Hosted Exchange provider in Europe.

Back to the Race: In 2006 Amazon launched Amazon Web Services, in January 2007 Google launched Gmail with Docs and Spreadsheet, Microsoft conceived BPOS (early Office365) in 2007, now granted those early versions were not perfect but whether you liked them or not the Race was on.

Now, here’s the thing, if we agree that the large Vendors, and I include, IBM, HP, VMware, Netsuite plus others, are racing to gain marketshare and customer billing relationships, then what is our response in the real world of cash-flow, daily customer management and sales?

If we asked our brilliant British cycling team to compete in London 2012 on equipment that was 10 years old, with out-of-date training and nutrition plans, then would we expect them to win? No, So when we, as an industry propose solutions and commercial models that to the average businessman seem out of step with their business goals and what they are reading in the mainstream (IT / Cloud) press then we cannot expect to win.

Like it or not we live in a subscription economy, more and more we ‘rent’ the things we use. The cynics among you will say that this subscription economy is another name for credit, and that may be so, but there is no doubt that the new and emerging business models for everything from movie rental to car purchase are now key component to economic recovery and growth.

At Cloudmore we are driven by levelling the playing field for all organisations to have the best IT, the same IT no matter whether large or small and removing the barriers to purchase, adoption and use. We have built our own intermediation platform to aggregate the best in Cloud Services so that our users get the best, fastest, and most cost effective solution to their problems and needs. We have developed ‘boxed’ marketing programs, created micro-sites for generate leads, activated our Vendors MDF funds, we ARE in the Race, but sadly far too much of the IT channel are not. They continue to give poor advice, sell outdated solutions, deploy hardware and grimly hang onto margin wherever possible.

…far too much of the IT channel are not [in the race]. They continue to give poor advice, sell outdated solutions, deploy hardware and grimly hang onto margin wherever possible.

Even worse is to give up, a cannot be bothered to even think attitude of let’s promote a Service where I cannot differentiate, get ridiculously low margins and even give my customer billing relationship away, if that is not throwing in the towel I don’t know what is.

I joined the IT industry after 15 years in the Print and Publishing sector. During that time I witnessed a revolution in digital pre-press and content creation. The winners of that Race, were the startups who adopted the new technologies fast, the advertising and media agencies who took a larger piece of the revenue pie. The losers were the businesses that failed to change. Printing prices have crashed over the last 20 years yet there are still small and large printing and graphics businesses making a good living. It took 10 years for that industry to change. If the Race started in 2007 I reckon we are about half way.