As we continue our conversation on the business benefits of moving to the cloud, remember that in the last post, I wrote about a faster deployment of new capabilities. Today, I want to dig in a little bit on the next business benefit for you and your customer.
Business benefit #2: Lower-Risk Business Innovation
For SMB organizations, every business decision tends to have some element of risk attached to it. It could be something large, like a merger or acquisition. Or it could be something simple, like cutting back on an expense in the workplace. Those decisions all have a potential impact to the business, good or bad; and that “potential impact” is where risk lives.
Innovation is a key driver of success in many organizations. It’s what allows breakthroughs in growth and profitability that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. It creates a disruption from the way things have always been, to a new way of working or thinking that drives a better business outcome.
But let’s face it, not every innovation opportunity works out the way we would like. Failure happens; and when it does happen, the key is to fail fast and have the associated cost of the failure be small.
When it comes to delivering innovation in SMB organizations, how is it possible to keep the risk as low as possible? One way is to keep the cost of innovation as low as possible. With a lower cost of innovation comes a less risky business outcome. One path to keep costs lower is to drive towards technology solutions delivered through a cloud platform, like Azure.
Let’s think about a new business capability (i.e innovation) that our fictional SMB organization, Contoso, wants to move forward with. If that innovation is delivered through a traditional datacenter, there will likely be an expensive capital expenditure in purchasing hardware and software. That’s a big risk for an SMB like Contoso, just to test out the innovation and verify it provides acceptable results. Big expense can lead to big risk.
A better way could be create that new business capability, by leveraging Azure as a platform for innovation. Delivering a verifiable business outcome is much less costly through the cloud, not to mention the ability to treat the expense as Operating instead of Capital. Less expense means less risk. If Contoso doesn’t get the business outcomes that they were looking for, then they’ve failed fast with a small cost. On the other hand, if that innovation provides the results that everyone is looking for, then they’ve achieved a breakthrough at a lower overall risk.
At that point, the solution is already in the cloud. It’s likely 95%+ deployed and functional. It probably makes a lot of sense to just keep that new capability in the cloud. But even if Contoso really wants that capability in a traditional datacenter, the solution has already been proven out, and the overall risk is still lower for deploying that innovation in a traditional datacenter, or as part of a hybrid solution that mixes the cloud with on-premises.
As a Microsoft partner, we tend to talk a lot about business innovation to potential and current customers. We explore and learn as much about the business as we can. We uncover opportunities for our SMB organizations to leverage technology for the purposes of creating business value. In the most simplistic view, we’re looking to help our customers either (1) make money, or (2) save money. With the pace of technology evolution that the cloud provides, we have plenty of opportunities to provide innovation in SMB organizations to drive real business value.
The more you are able to help remove risk for your customers while still providing innovation to deliver business value, the more likely you’ll be counted on as a Trusted Advisor, and your customers will continue to be very loyal. As you build out your innovative solutions in Azure on a cloud platform, the more expertise you’ll have. That expertise drives a repeatable process to remove costs from your own project and managed services engagements. As you build economies of scale by continuing to deliver repeatable innovation in the cloud, the less risk you’ll have in your own organization to drive that innovation because less cost equals less risk.
*Source: David Chappell & Associates ‘Benefits & Risks of Cloud Platforms for Business Leaders’
In part 3 of this topic, we’ll chat about a business benefit of “global scale and global reach”.
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Terry Stein, Azure Partner Channel Development Manager; @TerryStein_MSFT