“The Cloud” – sometimes this technology term is as nebulous as the real world cloud from which it gets its name, and like the clouds of the real world you can ignore the virtual, Internet based Cloud at your peril. The Cloud is the biggest disrupter of technology business since the public emergence of the Internet in the ‘90s. The reason that the Cloud has disrupted and continues to disrupt so many technology businesses is that Cloud has transformed the way people work, play and buy. If our customers are transforming, then as Microsoft Partners we have to transform our own businesses.
This whole transformation issue can be seen through the lens of Microsoft itself, which for years struggled to figure out what it was in this era of “Cloud and Mobility”. It’s no coincidence that the Microsoft CEO – Satya Nadella - describes Microsoft today as “Mobile first, Cloud first.” There are two ‘firsts’ because the Cloud and Mobility are tightly intertwined with each other and Satya probably could find no better way to express their combined significance and criticality to Microsoft’s success.
For the last 4 or 5 years Microsoft Partners have heard Microsoft preach the Cloud. Most of us ignored it initially – because after all – our business was probably doing well from all the on-premises license and implementation project transaction selling many Partners were engaged in. (Microsoft probably did not really know what it was talking about 4 or 5 years ago anyway). As a Microsoft Partner, it probably was easy to think that the Microsoft focus on Cloud was going to just come down to another SKU, another new piece of technology that we could sell like we did all the rest. What was the big deal anyway?
What some of us perhaps did not fully recognize was that the Microsoft struggle with Cloud was not a technology issue but really a business transformation issue. A transformation issue that had to radically change the way they saw their business and as a result the way they ran their business. This demand to transform was not driven by some technology need, it was driven by the changing habits of their customers whose lifestyles and buying habits were changing.
As a Microsoft Partner we should see Microsoft’s struggle and subsequent transformation as instructive for our own business. The customer that was being changed by Cloud and mobile, and which was forcing Microsoft’s change, is also our customer. It’s therefore clear that for us to successfully engage with today’s customer, we must change. If we peer back into our not too distant past we can see technology companies that failed to fully apprehend the magnitude of the change they were facing.
Engaging in the transformation that is being driven by Cloud and mobile is not an option, at least not if we want to continue building a successful business – it’s an absolute requirement.
Kevin Khelawan is a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Teleios Systems Ltd - a gold-certified Microsoft Partner, founded in 1997 and based in Trinidad & Tobago.