My co-worker recently made a reference to the weather in one of his blog posts, so I thought I would do the same thing. I see Clouds in our future, and that’s a good thing.
My fascination with Cloud Applications started in late 2009 when we started our Salesforce.com practice. On the brink of starting a new subsidiary that focuses exclusively on leveraging cloud applications and social strategies in the enterprise, I thought it would be a good opportunity to express what I appreciate about companies like Salesforce.com, Workday, Marketo and Dell-Boomi. Today’s true cloud vendors provide benefit to customers and are changing the landscape of enterprise applications as we know them. Here are some of the characteristics that I feel make these offerings very relevant today:
- They are mobile – Most of today’s applications like Salesforce.com and Workday are easily accessible via OS specific or HTML 5 applications that can be downloaded and instantly connected, making it easy to access business applications on a wide variety of mobile and tablet devices wherever and whenever you want.
- They are social – Collaborative technologies like Salesforce.com’s Chatter provide much more value than initially meets the eye. By adopting navigation and feature/functionality of social networking sites, today’s new enterprise applications enable workers to connect with each other in a new way. The apps work they way you would want them to, driving adoption, enterprise communication and productivity.
- They are open – Today’s web service enabled SaaS offerings provide instant access to application functionality and data. Integration projects can be completed in much shorter timeframes and SaaS offerings can be seamlessly integrated with other SaaS offerings. Specifications to connect via web services to these applications are not a mystery and can be accessed within minutes not months.
- They have a common code line – By leveraging the multi-tenant architecture and abstracting customizations in separate layers, successful SaaS vendors can keep virtually all of their customers on the same code line – providing up to date functionality as soon as it is available- to everyone. In addition, the world of patches, fixes and customer applied maintenance upgrades is gone and no longer a barrier to new functionality.
- They are pervasive – Many cloud based applications introduce themselves to our customers via free demo accounts that can be accessed quickly. Half of all new Salesforce.com projects we work on are at organizations that have Salesforce in multiple divisions and are now expanding the application to the entire enterprise.
- The applications are new…and very good – The new wave of SaaS vendors have the opportunity to build applications from the ground up without the concern of supporting code from 20 years ago. Conveniently, these companies have the flexibility to create applications that work the way we want them to.
How We Buy
With services from Amazon, Apple, Netflix and iTunes we can buy music, movies and books on demand whenever we want. People are accessing enterprise applications in the same way. Enterprise SaaS vendors allow you to instantly access their offerings. Whether you call it a public cloud, a private cloud – areal cloud or a fake cloud, the point is enterprise customers are changing their buying habits. All vendors recognize this and are adapting.
So my weather forecast on our fun world of technology is not about the technology, not about the internet, not about buzz words like ‘Cloud’ and ‘Social.’ It is about how we all select, evaluate, buy and use technology. That is what is changing.
Call it Cloud, call it Social, go ahead and start calling it whatever. Get an umbrella if so inclined. I say, go get your swimsuit on and run out there and enjoy it.