Develop Your Cloud Sense and Make the Cloud a Competitive Weapon

The Cloud industry is one of the fastest growing on the planet. Every industry is using the Cloud in some form or fashion. According to Forrester, the Cloud hit a critical tipping point in 2010 when companies began to see the Cloud as a business tool, rather than simply as a technology. For leading companies, the Cloud has become a critical component for enterprise elasticity and a competitive game changer.

Today the Cloud integrates the capabilities of the digital world and the physical world. Companies like Nike, Apple, and BMW use the Cloud to engage customers and enhance their real-time experience. Monsanto and Deere employ Cloud computing to analyze massive data sets, support precision farming, and perform big data analytics.

USAA, MasterCard, and US Bank use the Cloud to assemble and integrate new business with in-house capabilities to rapidly launch new business strategies. Macy’s, Home Depot, and Ford use the Cloud to dynamically revamp and remodel supply networks with less friction and greater options. Indeed, many new business models would be impossible without the Cloud.

But there is currently a significant challenge with the Cloud. While you can find a lot of information about it, practical knowledge about the best ways to leverage its capabilities is very limited. To put the Cloud to work, companies must develop what we call, Cloud Sense.

What is Cloud Sense?

Cloud Sense is the capacity and know-how to apply the Cloud to business opportunities and problems, anytime, anywhere, to enhance competitive advantage. Cloud Sense understands where the pitfalls and problems lie within current practices and provides new solutions.

Based on our research and experience with a range of companies, we have developed a Cloud Sense Framework to guide strategy and practice.

Cloud Sense

As seen in the diagram, the Cloud Sense Framework identifies ten essential components of Cloud practice across four levels:

1. Cloud Capability Frontier—New Cloud capabilities are emerging every day. The Cloud is, in essence, a community with continuously changing economics and new forms of collaboration. Hence, it advances in capabilities and options through new innovations in technologies and new partnerships and alliances. Since this level is the foundation for all Cloud Sense Framework capabilities and practices, for companies to effectively use the Cloud, they must keep a close eye on this ever-changing frontier of Cloud capabilities.

2. Functionality and Technology—The Cloud embraces standardization even as it continually morphs and advances. As a consequence, companies can easily find ways to ‘plug and play’ virtually any device, application, or capability into their business and operations. Perhaps most importantly, the friction involved in linking partners’ systems together is minimized in the Cloud.

3. Value Creation and Delivery—The Cloud value palette is huge. The Cloud enables leaders, strategists, marketers, and product developers to more specifically tailor new products and services and new customer experiences across global markets through access to off-the-shelf business capabilities and technological capacity.

4. Strategy and Future Structure—Leading companies use the Cloud to “virtually” overlay a new business structure onto their existing company structure to aid in the transition to new desired business models while minimizing disruption, delays, and downtime.

In this on-going series of posts we will explore what it means to develop Cloud Sense. We will discuss the meaning and impact of each of the ten elements displayed in the Cloud Sense Framework diagram and we will share what we have learned as we transformed to a Cloud-based company. We will also interview executives on their use of the Cloud across a variety of industries and outline key problems and pitfalls and how to fix them or avoid them altogether. And along the way we will provide tools for assessments and playbooks to build Cloud Sense appropriate for you and your company.

In our next post, launching December 9, we will provide an examination of the current state of the ever-emerging Cloud Capability Frontier. We invite you to join us as to learn more about the Cloud and develop your own distinctive Cloud Sense.

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