I’m becoming a fan of standards

I never thought I would, structure and constraints aren’t really my gig.  However after reading some of the great blogs by Simon Wardley, trying to deal with an industry that doesn’t have any currently and some personal experiences, I’m changing my stance.

At a personal level, i’ve just completed my second order through Charles Trywhitt for business shirts. Yep i buy my shirts online (you should too, they are bloody good shirts, bloody cheap) . I CAN do this because unlike woman’s clothes there are standards, much to my wife’s annoyance.  Same collar size, sleeve length and chest the world over. Aka a standard. I can buy the shirt trusting it will fit. (apparently due to the advent of vanity sizes -aka lying to the lady about her true size – this is no longer the case in woman’s clothes).

Another example, air travel. Pretty generic activity.  Lots of websites doing the same thing, funnily enough, not always in the interest of the customer. Check out this from expedia


And then I went direct to AirNZ’s website to validate the pricing

Whops…. $2k more to fly on the same flight, same airline…. something i caught because now the power is in my hands to check and find possible itineraries… because I can put in the destination airport code and time now instead of an agent…

At a work level, I’m trying to figure out how to get our company to buy fibre products off 4 different providers. All of which have different ways of ordering, providing, billing, managing and implementing their product… IT folks scoff at network heads, they shouldn’t. Its bloody complicated and for the most part they have solved a lot of the technical challenges you guys are grappling with in Cloud land.  They didn’t get the business model transformation part right, but neither are many of you.

At an innovation level, now I (at least partially) understand Simon’s model, I can see how standards drive componetisation which in terms commoditises activities… and in doing this you see a wave of innovation at high levels in the ecosystem (on top of the commodity).  And i’m beginning to see how this can work in my favour a lot more.  I was talking about an idea with a friend, and he off his own bat said “now cloud is here the physical cost of the new service is really small now…  barriers to start up have gone away”, and in doing so more and more folks are innovating on top of it. Very cool when you can benefit.

Next time you see a standard emerging, think through how you can best make use of it.

dumb is dumb

Here’s a phase I heard yesterday.

“carriers are swapping dumb pipes for dumb cloud”

Indeed they are,  dumb is dumb.  A commodity is a commodity. Can you fluke some differentiation? Yes (just look at bottled water ), but generally speaking, it is going to stay a commodity.

Carrier’s need a slap. Strategically and culturally they just need to get with it.

Moving to cloud is a good idea, virtualisation is in a carriers blood, so is scale.  Doing it the carrier way is bad.  In what world do you think building services like you have always done is a good idea (the slow, massively robust, integrated from day 1, using trusted vendors kit approach).

Think that through. So you are buying servers and software off the same folks you always have (who are incidentally  themselves struggling with the cloud), banking on procurement scale to give you the price differential you need when you competitors have utterly commoditised this space. Buying commodity components, creating software or using open-source . And thats not the worst of it, you are probably using the same vendors (the ones with large PS businesses) to integrate it all together, and reverse integrating that new stuff into the cluster F#*k of your old OSS/BSS systems. You know, the ones that have held you back on your existing commodity services…..

How about doing something that adds value? Not bolting to the next commoditised market. How about a different approach, maybe even a cloud driven one (disruptive i know). Aggregation? PasS? Partnership?  All could deliver quite different results.  But to do that you need to get over yourself

  • Your old “lock the customer in mentality”
  • Your “we must own the customer” mentality
  • We need to have the same margins (headsup carriers, only oil, winning pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs get the same margins you are used too)
  • We will leverage our existing investments like OSS/BSS. (here’s a hint, while you talk about these things like they should be differentiators, ask yourselves if they really are)
  • You won’t break our delivery models
  • You won’t break the process
  • Everything is delivered up front because iteration is bad…
  • Get the same people to do the integration work.

Try something new, if not you are gonna get what you already have. Dumb is dumb…

PaaS moves on with Cloud Foundry

Yesterday, VMware announced the launch of Cloud Foundry. This is a big step in the evolution of Platform as a Service.

What is profound, is that this allows you to build applications in a private (your data centre), public (Amazon’s or Rackspace’s cloud) or hybrid environment (a combination of both). It scales from your laptop, to the hundreds of servers in the data centre.

Finally Cloud foundry is Open source. This is important to you guys out there because this should in theory allow you federate (or connect) clouds together. The theory being that as you have a known code base and API set, you can readily do this task.

In the cloud space, this is big news. PaaS is going to be the most critical enabler of Cloud applications going forward, but todate the execution on this vision by potential leaders like Microsoft (Azure) and Salesforce.com (force.com) has not quite been there…

For some more coverage of this move check out

Krishnan at Cloudave.com http://www.cloudave.com/11714/vmware-disrupts-paas-space-with-cloud-foundry/

Cloud, or X-as a Service is not the end game.

I’m a  big fan of cloud computing, over 2 years ago I wrote that in my opinion “SaaS was here to stay” because it was a natural evolution of traditional IT. In fact it was ICT, finally fulfilling its TCO promises.

But its not the end game. As good as it is, I think that the phenomenon has unwittingly instigated its own demise…

I think, businesses have been given a taste of value, and that this will be the key driver for change. At the end of the day, CEO’s want outcomes. They are raving about “service” now (which only highlights what a failure the traditional IT model has become in the business users eyes), but soon they will demand more.

I think that the next big thing will be outcomes. Business lead buyers (our new reality), heavily influenced by consumerisation, will move on and focus on how what you are selling achieves their outcomes.

“You take our CRM system, and your sales efficiency and hence revenue will increase to ..”

“Buy and system to collaboration, and productivity per employee will increase by 15%”

At this point in time, people buy technology to create a system to deliver a business outcome. Not the most efficient supply chain.

The trend toward technology becoming irrelevant is already in train, paying for the technology is next.

"Outcomes" the next big thing…