Why the Cloud is the Next Great Business Equalizer
April 21, 2015
Eight years ago the cloud presented a tremendous opportunity. Now, it’s simply a requirement of doing business. Companies that still insist on leveraging legacy systems and are willing to wade through siloed, manual processes are rapidly falling behind those that have remained ahead of the breaking wave of technology.
One of the most revolutionary aspects of the cloud is the way it has democratized business. In the past, limited resources, size, geographies and economies of scale all prevented small, mid-size and growing companies from competing against large global enterprises. Cloud computing architectures based on multitenancy afford smaller brands new efficiencies, including shared computing resources, optimized infrastructure and the ability to focus on core competencies in software. The end result is lower capital costs, greater speed to market, scalability, adaptability and more innovation. The rate at which smaller companies can shift and maneuver has leveled the playing field against larger enterprises.
The other edge of that sword, however, is unprecedented market speeds. Companies are experiencing shortening product lifecycles, rapid changes in customer preferences and shifting buying patterns. Barriers to entry are dropping in many sectors, leading to an excess number of suppliers and intensified competition. Increasing integration of the world economy is permitting new innovations to appear with sudden speed from unexpected quarters.
Responding to Highly Competitive Markets
Consistency in multichannel selling is vital. Technology plays a key role in harmonizing product data, promotions, pricing, product lifecycles, content and experiences across different sales teams, partner sites and storefronts.
Technical flexibility allows enterprises to both differentiate themselves effectively, respond effectively to market developments and combat commoditization. Flexibility permits new experiences, products and services to be rapidly introduced, nurtured and scaled across channels. Unique product portfolios can be marketed at an acceptable cost, enabling profitable growth. With good process automation and visibility, firms can understand what works and what doesn’t work, and in turn make timely corrections. Companies that refuse to optimize sales across multiple channels are flirting with the consequences of Corporate Darwinism. Just ask RadioShack, which in its 94-year existence failed to evolve past its brick-and-mortar channels.
Responding to Shifting Customer Expectations
Consumer behavior is rapidly and drastically changing. Technology is everyone’s faithful companion. It’s ubiquitous. From the Internet to the Internet of Things, people today are creating and consuming digital information at a voracious rate. In fact, technology is such a critical part of our everyday lives that it’s literally becoming an appendage, as evidenced by the high market demand for wearable devices including the new, highly touted Apple (News - Alert) Watch.
And as behavior continues to change, so does consumer expectation for the way companies should do business. Consumers expect seamlessness between devices, channels and technologies. We expect convenience, simplicity and custom user experiences. We want everything around us to work on-demand, fit our instant needs and revolve around our time. If you aren’t prepared to sell when a customer is ready to buy, your company size, brand legacy and value proposition all becomes irrelevant, and you’ll lose that deal.
Smaller and mid-size businesses didn’t always have access to the tools that would meet those very same consumer expectations. They may have been priced out of the equation, or required unrealistic staffing and maintenance.
No longer. The foot is in the door and it is not closing.
About the Author: Kirk Krappe is the Chairman and CEO of Apttus, the Silicon Valley-based company that defined the Quote-to-Cash space and raised $41 million in funding from Salesforce Ventures. He is a veteran of the software industry who was involved with the very first instances of the Internet and enterprise applications. Beginning his career as an engineer, Krappe has gone on to build, market, sell and deliver enterprise solutions to organizations around the world.
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