Cloud Expo Europe 2013: A Business Consultant’s Viewpoint

Cloud Expo Europe 2013: A Business Consultant’s Viewpoint

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By Daniel Steeves, a Director at Beyond Solutions

I’ve been attending IT industry shows and events the nature of this one since the ‘old days’ when business computing existed only on mainframes (which, by the way, are in many ways the predecessor architecture of cloud which is, effectively, computing re-centralised…) and I recall only a few where I have felt it worth attending for more than one day: Cloud Expo Europe 2013 was one of them.

As mentioned in a recent blog published elsewhere, I typically counsel any business to focus on requirements and targets before looking at the technology, but these times (and this show) are a little different.

Because you can do more than you could before – particularly without spending a large amount of money up front to get started doing it – thinking outside of the box effectively requires knowledge of what might be out there and I am now more likely to suggest that you see what ‘could be’ prior to defining or designing what you want.

Lessons learned?

“Events of this nature, with vendors, seminars and keynotes, help you to see what ‘could be’ prior to defining or designing what you want”

While cloud computing is far from new as a concept, what is available and how it is being delivered – not to mention accessibility to it, both ‘physically’ and financially – might just be a game changer for your business or for your clients. Events such as this provide access to those who do it and with those who have done it, with the latter arguably the more important part of the mix.

Cloud Computing is here to stay… then again, we’ve known that since well before people starting calling it cloud but with the growth and opportunity focus of an entire industry, world-wide and including all sides of the equation – manufacturers and vendors, service providers, techies and end users – we can be pretty sure that the quality and quantity of services on offer will do nothing but increase going forward.

So the primary lesson learned is not necessarily a new one: with this type of growth comes more players whose numbers will decrease over time, which means that one of my stock answers applies: Get your requirements straight and do the due diligence (take a look here at a recent blog I wrote on that subject for a starting point) before choosing partners in the cloud computing space.

Observations on Exhibitors
And an event of this nature is a good place to get started doing just that… the sector was well-covered, including some large players with a small footprint, some not-so-large players clearly staking a claim with a more significant presence and some very small entries who look ready to cause an impact.

I was pleased to come across little of the hype-driven marketing we’ve been seeing over the last years, with what seemed a more mature presentation of more mature capabilities. With booths stocked with CEOs and CTOs (and the occasional Business Development exec) it was clear that the customer focus of the sector is changing.

“Cloud to Clarity wasn’t quite delivered… but this is not a reflection on either the event or the exhibitors, though, rather on the state of a rapidly evolving industry… but it is getting better”
But not quite far enough: I was disappointed on an overall lack of focus on the business view – with a few notable exceptions – which I feel would have better suited the strong line-up business-themed speakers and seminars including the end user community (along with the usual technical and product coverage) or the needs of what turned out to be a very broad cross-section of attendees.

Cloud Expo Europe Comment:

New for 2014: Cloud Expo Europe will host a vertically led roundtable seminar programme, exclusively focussed on the pressing requirements of Europe’s business and technology focussed CXOs. This seminar programme is open to senior directors from end-user organisations and delegate places will be allocated by application or invitation only.

I also feel that the majority of exhibitors missed on the opportunity to differentiate themselves and educate their customers: I may know that all clouds are not created equal but as far as helping potential customers to discern the differences – and, from service levels and service credits through to customisation, maintenance, or upgrade procedures and testing, or open or closed or public or private, there is a lot to compare – let alone clearly understand why cloud computing is the right answer, for their business: there is some work yet to be done.

Finally, while I have been known to complain about hype, I do need to keep informed… this article covers (mostly cloud-related) 2013 Top Terminologies-to-be which will matter and which were, for the most part, not covered other than in conversations.

Observations on Attendees

On the other hand it proved a great show to re-connect with colleagues and contacts across the industry and that broad brush of attendees and exhibitors, ranging from CEOs to techies, from end users to Service Providers (and more than a few of their non-exhibiting competitors), and from Industry Analysts to Cloud and Industry experts – allowed for an equally broad range of conversations.

Observations on the Event

I found attending Cloud Expo Europe to be a very productive use of my time and, using Twitter as a measure, most vendors and attendees felt the same. However, the promise of moving from ‘Cloud to Clarity’ wasn’t quite delivered, despite a fine venue and a solid set of information sessions. Delivery to that promise needed to come from the exhibitors, very few of whom were able to do so effectively.

This is not a reflection on either the event or the exhibitors, though, rather on the state of a rapidly evolving industry… constant flux in an already complex environment consisting of complicated stuff and clever people working out convoluted ways to deliver better, stronger, faster and cheaper solutions ensures that clarity is never easy.

But it is getting better… and I for one need events of this nature to stay connected and informed.