As American chemist and multiple Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling famously quipped, "the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of them." Nowhere is this more true than in tech startups today. It is clear that the converging dynamics of cloud computing is creating tectonic shifts in the IT industry.
These days, businesses can tap into an enormous range of cloud services. They can subscribe to high-performance infrastructure services like Amazon Web Services, rent platforms as a service (comprising hardware, operating systems, storage and network capacity) from Salesforce.com, store information in services like Box or automate billings with companies like Zuora. These are just examples.
Companies can also pick and choose from a long list of cloud-based apps to handle business tasks, from customer relationship management and marketing to human resources and financial management.
Cloud making data democratic
Five years ago, only executives at very large companies had access to business intelligence tools that culled patterns from data.
The cloud makes everything democratic, not just access to the data itself, but the insight as well, including best practices that do not require the expertise of a SQL or a MapReduce programmer. The cloud enables anyone, anywhere, to recognize patterns from data and make smart decisions faster. And that means any business professional at any company should be able to monetize their Big Data.
I would argue that cloud services will become the business application suite, eventually displacing behemoth on-premise packages from SAP or Oracle. Emphasis on "eventually" since few enterprises are ready to jettison their million-dollar investments in Oracle and SAP.
Commandments for startups
Building a successful startup is never easy. That is especially true in the enterprise market. Finding the right product/market fit means knowing what enterprises already have and what they need — and understanding how they work.
The shifting landscape of cloud computing, mobility, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Big Data have dramatically changed the way businesses must operate in order to achieve success. Enterprises and consumers will no longer accept cookie-cutter approaches to meet their needs.
Cloud-based companies must focus on delivering a fundamentally different product — a product that is focused on business value, customer needs and best practices. Brands, which did not matter in the world of on-premise software, must be trustworthy and deliver against the product's promise at every touch point. If you do not have the customer's trust, and a quality product to back it up, you do not have anything.
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