Does the Cloud lead to homogenised enterprises?

17 Apr

Just a quick follow on from my last post about cloud computing/service delivery platforms/platform as a service/saas platforms etc etc as. I was intrigued by a Joe McKendrick post on the merits of the model.  Joe’s analysis was pretty balanced as usual but one of his disadvantages caught my eye as I disagreed with it strongly.  Essentially Joe suggests that there is a perception that “Enterprises leveraging Cloud computing may become homogenized — and lose the competitive advantage that may come from custom-built systems”.  As I’ve previously discussed the concept of cloud computing drives people to finally decide what business they are in; if they work in an end user organisation then they need to recognise that and start treating IT like a utility rather than a differentiator.  In this context, however, I would argue that rather than homogenising the enterprise it will have the opposite effect – if we get rid of our IT platform to the cloud (who cares if it is homogenised – it’s just a technology platform), consume our 80% of non-differentiating business capabilities as SaaS or BPU services from the cloud (who cares if these are homogenised – they don’t differentiate us) and then focus all of our attention on realising the remaining 20% of differentiating capabilities – as custom built systems – more rapidly and cheaply on our chosen cloud computing platform(s) then we will be maximising our advantage whilst losing none of the benefits.  It’s important to realise that just because we don’t own and operate the physical technology it doesn’t mean that we can’t own the services that run on it  – we can still develop our custom-built systems to realise our differentiating capabilities.  And given that this is the only bit of the whole value chain that’s actually important for us to customise I would argue that we are – in reality – less likely to end up homogenised since we are more focused on where our value really lies and therefore more able to maximise our differentiation from our competitors. 

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