Build new business ecosystems in the cloud
Today the cloud is doing things for business that no one ever expected. For example, companies are using the cloud to generate new revenues and drive industry disruption from financial services to manufacturing.
In the early days of the cloud, ICT leaders saw it mainly as a means to outsource data center and software infrastructure in order to inexpensively scale self-provisioning of servers, storage and commercial apps like Salesforce or SAP. The next evolution in ICT included accessing the latest development platforms in the cloud. For example, to orchestrate standardized programming components (containers and clusters).
But now innovative ICT executives are going further. Cloud services have become a platform to create ecosystems that bring together companies around the world into specialized marketplaces. Ecosystem creators connect real-time touchpoints between disparate companies’ employees, customers, and even “things” i.e. internet-of-things (IoT). Newly connected business partners can access each other’s applications and data to deliver a higher value customer experience.
Today’s leading Software as a Service (SaaS) providers—such as Salesforce, Google, Facebook, Citrix and Uber—are contributing Platform as a Service (PaaS) and related APIs to these ecosystems. PaaS is enabling companies in every industry to extend their reach and deliver “everything as a service.”
For example, a leading construction firm has developed over 20 instances of a single SaaS app, each tailored to different needs of various business partners. An appliance manufacturer can build a cloud-based ecosystem that connects washing machines equipped with sensors to customers, service technicians, and parts dealers. Any customer or business partner can connect to it with a simple API call, web browser, or mobile device. Auto manufacturers and dealers can build a real-time network for sales and service needs.
Through a cloud ecosystem connecting devices, patients, and hospitals, a leading medical device manufacturer can expand its core business of selling devices to hospitals. It can provide patient services such as heart monitoring-as-a-service, via an ecosystem connecting multiple patients, drug and device companies along with healthcare providers. At the heart of the ecosystem: analytics to detect and analyze patterns in information aggregated across the entire patient population.
Many of the most successful industry ecosystems will be those designed from the beginning for selling products as services, without the transformation cost and risk that industry incumbents must overcome. Portals, software marketplaces, and service catalogs are converging into powerful business ecosystems. For ICT leaders, the immediate priority should be to design cloud services architectures that can support such ecosystems side by side with internal systems to connect to them.
The most successful ICT leaders will be those who expand their focus from their company to its ecosystem.
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