The cloud is not a product
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, all the way back to freshman year of college and that Marketing 101 class. In this class, most of us were introduced to the 4 P’s of Marketing: Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. In between trying to stay awake and planning the next kegger, little did we know we were learning something that we would apply over and over again through our professional years. For me that is 24 years now.
For this post, we are going to focus on just one of the P’s. Product is defined as either a tangible good or an intangible service that meets a specific customer need or demand.
- Good: a material that satisfies a want
- Tangible good: a physical item that can be perceived by the sense of touch such as clothes, cars, computers, and food items
- Intangible good: a good that does not have a physical nature such as downloadable music, mobile apps or virtual goods used in virtual economies.
Putting cloud to the test
Now that we understand what a product is, let’s prove that cloud is not a product.
OK, so we now can agree that the cloud is not a product, however you might be asking why this is even important. Great question!
The importance of not classifying the cloud as a product is seen through how we procure and utilize products in the technology market. When buying technology products, often we are looking to fulfill a specific and defined technology need. By understanding the technology needs, we can easily diagnose what features and benefits we require. This helps identify potential products. However, since we have already deduced that the cloud is not a product, there are no defined features and benefits. Thus, it is very difficult to match the cloud to a specific technology need. That’s why many cloud conversations go nowhere, and IT departments have a hard time understanding the use case for cloud in their business.
What it is
What is the cloud? The cloud is a blank canvas that can be creatively used in infinite ways. Before we start to design that canvas, we must have an initial business outcome that is derived by quantifiable business needs. Once we understand the desired business outcome that the cloud will drive, we can begin to apply the tangible and intangible goods that will make up the cloud and select the products that will meet the technology requirements needed to deliver the business outcome.
My favorite analogy to this entire concept is this: The cloud is like a house. First let’s understand the components of each.
As we can see, the similarity is obvious. The meaning of this analogy is the most important. Because the cloud is not a product, we need to understand what the required business use is so we can build a strategy that will consist of tangible and intangible products. The products used will be completely dependent on the desired business outcome and designed cloud strategy.
So, let’s circle back. If IT vendors approach the cloud as a product, businesses will have a hard time building a business case, as the need and design of the cloud will be missing. Instead, IT vendors need to recognize that the cloud is not a product and accept it as a blank canvas. Conversations with vendors need to start with business needs and desired outcomes. Once we understand the muse of our blank canvas, we can then design the strategy and identify the products that will support the solution. It’s the only way to deliver the desired business outcome and fulfill the business need.