Imagine you’re a big IT supplier. You build a successful business by being responsive to your customers, and giving them what they need. If the customer is a big one, then normally their budget is too. And so, their list of requirements is big too. Which means that when they want to do IT projects, they are normally big ones. And you have all the expertise needed to give them advice, support, consultancy, implementation and deployment.
Then along comes the Cloud. It means that small companies can offer a very specific service - not a big IT system - to one of your customers. And instead of buying a big computer system to do everything that they can imagine, they buy a service to deliver a small part of their overall IT service. At first, it’s only a small nibble from a big IT pie. But over time, the nibble can become a bite. And eventually some of the pie disappears.
And it’s a good thing for the customer - they can solve business problems with speedier and more targeted solutions and quicker procurement.
Of course, it’s already happening today…
A small Coffs Harbour company was sandwiched between two global giants - Desire2Learn (6 million users) and Cornelsen Publishers (3,000 employees and a turnover of 450 million Euro). They’re a small regional Australian business that’s competing against the world’s biggest and best.
They can do this because of the Cloud, because they can focus on their core competencies - eg software development - and leave the job of running the big infrastructure that you need to administer an exam for 100,000 students to somebody else (in their case, the Windows Azure service).
Wayne Houlden, the Janison CEO, puts it succinctly on his blog:
|It highlights for me just how much is changing, how now small and nimble companies anywhere in the world can build applications that significantly change the software application and services landscape|
The end is not nigh…
This doesn’t mean that the end of the big IT projects/suppliers is coming, but that instead we’re going to see things changing. Smaller companies will compete with bigger ones, as they always have. And big projects will continue to be developed and procured. But the way that things are done will change. When it’s quicker to build the product than it is to write the specification documents, it means that software development, and IT procurement, is going to be fundamentally different in the future.
We’re going to see more nimble projects, with a chance of keeping up with the more nimble users (as you’ll be seeing, if ‘corporate IT’ can’t keep up, they’ll just go out and use a public web 2.0 service).
But change is….
All of our business models are going to change. And the Education IT business is going to look very different in five years time.