Here’s a revelation: Every business is pretty much the same. Every day, day in and day out, the same number of people show up to do just about the same job and tackle the same problems in pretty much the same way, using similar equipment and technologies as just about every other business. It’s all totally predictable and nothing out of the ordinary ever happens, few new ideas are ever generated, and yesterday’s plans, projects and tools are more or less going to be perfectly acceptable tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.
What planet is that, anyway? The whole nature of this species is that everyone’s different, and — Surprise! — every business is different, too. Sure, it would be nice if we could predict what would happen tomorrow and plan accordingly, but since we can’t, it’s important that companies and organizations are structured to, well, expect the unexpected. That means planning, anticipating, and preparing for whatever comes our way. For IT managers whose job it is to oversee vast amounts of data, it means taking every opportunity to seize new technologies that can improve their business, giving them the agility to more quickly adapt to a constantly changing business climate. Agility is among the principle reasons why so many businesses have embraced the cloud. It means more efficient IT management and easier administration with less time needed to focus on technical issues that slow progress and cost real dollars and cents.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Agility as “the ability to move quickly and easily”. In the business world this means that when market conditions change, your customer’s business must be nimble enough to make the right adjustments to quickly and easily adapt to those changes. So, if the market turns right, they can turn right with it. And, from a competitive standpoint, businesses that move the quickest and most easily are the ones who are beating their competition. This has been a primary focus of IT managers for as long as they’ve been managing data.
Look at it this way. Imagine a company in the business of, say, movie rentals. Their retail chain dominates the market and they’ve built a multi-billion-dollar industry. People walk into their stores and walk out not just with movies, but with candy, popcorn, soda, T-shirts, and movie memorabilia. Business is booming. Now imagine a competitor pops up who makes it possible for customers to rent movies without even leaving the house. No late fees. No out of stock movies. Suddenly, fewer people are coming into movie rental locations, resulting in a shrinking customer base for the retailer. Revenue and profits drop. Marketshare starts shifting to their competitor. They need to quickly match this new movie delivery system or watch their business spiral into the abyss. Time is of the essence because more revenue is being lost every day. The amount of business they’re going to save is directly related to how quickly and easily they can incorporate this new system into their own and match what the competition is doing. Sound familiar? Of course, it does. Whatever happened to Blockbuster Video anyway? And, while it was as much Blockbuster’s refusal to adopt a new, internet based delivery system as it was their inability to move quickly in doing so, you get the point. Had they moved quickly to address Netflix’s new, more efficient internet rental and video streaming delivery system, they could’ve stopped the hemorrhaging and saved their business. And perhaps today House of Cards would be produced by Blockbuster! Who knows?
The point here is that cloud is a new technology in IT management that has revolutionized the way businesses go to market. And those that don’t have the agility to “move quickly and easily” to adapt to these changes are getting left behind.
Digging a little deeper into this benefit gets us to WHY this is. In the above example, the retailer needed to add an entirely new business unit. This means acquiring new equipment which means jumping into the dreaded procurement process. Then months of planning, speculating, forecasting, and budgeting ends with a giant, budget-disrupting capital expenditure.
But, the cloud’s scalability allows a company to bypass all of that. Now, they can work with their cloud provider to quickly and easily add new users, applications, and compute & storage nodes as needed. This radically simplifies the procurement process. The time between provisioning and the commencement of work is dramatically shortened and, before you know it, the new business unit is being rolled out! It’s also important to note that cloud is an Operating Expense, NOT a Capital Expense. You pay a monthly fee, so it fits nicely into an Operations budget. This acts to minimizes the budget disruption that a large capital expense can cause and add some agility to your customer’s balance sheet.
So, Agility in managing IT is crucial in a market that gets more competitive every day. Having the ability to quickly adjust to changing business demands is what will keep your customer’s company ahead of the pack. It will also help you maintain your position as Trusted Advisor to their business while building trust and loyalty. Everybody wins!
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