“He’s an ideas man” says Darryl Kerrigan as he describes Steve, his innovative son who invented such things as the “Broom and Hose” and the “Motorcycle helmet with the built in brake light”, in the movie The Castle.
Steve was an ideas man, however one would argue that it was the low cost of entry that enabled him to see and act on things that others clearly couldn’t. One can only ponder what Steve might have developed if he had access to the Cloud.
My name’s James Vickery and this is my story.. kind of.
One of the lesser told stories of cloud computing is the ability to spark innovation at an extremely rapid rate compared to the modern innovation of just a few short years ago. Think about it, virtually every idea or concept dreamed up by individuals and corporations over at least the past 25 years or so has involved some element of IT and for that very reason, many great ideas have been knocked on the head simply because hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars would need to be spent upfront before the project could even get started, not to mention the ongoing maintenance and support costs. All of this on the assumption that the idea was even a good one.
Thus, up until recently innovation has been left to the very rich or to the very few concepts that don’t require hardware, software and large scale internal IT systems and processes.
In my role as a technology consultant I’ve met ideas people every day. I can’t begin to tell you how many extraordinarily passionate people there are out there with great ideas that would help move their industry forward or solve a problem for a sector of the community. I’ve participated in creative sessions, planning and strategic board meetings and i’ve listened, often just as wide eyed as the inventor himself as he describes how he can fill a void in the world.
Some of these projects have gone ahead quite successfully, however they are the few compared to those that were put to bed early – why? The cost of entry was simply too high in proportion to the risk.
Cloud us already creating an innovation tipping point and will continue to grow exponentially
We haven’t yet scratched the surface of how cloud computing will transform our businesses and the industries we work within. At present, cloud is discussed in the form of saving money, a way to leverage online systems such as Email or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) without the capital expenditure of purchasing hardware. All of this is true however it’s a rather slanted view focused on taking what we have now and reducing its operational cost. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this attitude and I encourage exploring new ways to solve old challenges however this is just the tip of the iceberg and few businesses are aware of how the competitive landscape is already changing in their industry.
Elastic technology means ideas (and their subsequent projects) no longer need to be static with rigid timeframes and outcomes
Public cloud technology such as Amazon Web Services, HP Cloud and Microsoft Azure provide what we describe as an Elastic Computing Model whereby a user of the service decides upon and orders precisely how much CPU, Memory, Hard Disk Storage and Internet Bandwidth he or she requires and can scale up or down as needed. The services work like ‘virtual hardware and software’ and provide a platform for users to build software and applications which, rather than being limited to a small geographic area, can be scaled globally at a rapid rate or kept in a small test environment at minimal cost.
While in the past one might have an idea say for a Social Network (let’s say Twitter), one might have calculated the cost of rolling out computer systems globally, then the cost of software and the resources required to put all of this together. Millions of dollars would have to be spent on a rather quirky and well.. kinda stupid idea by those days standards. Instead, Twitter and thousands of other obscure applications are tested, developed and launched in the cloud and gradually scaled up as they gain popularity eventually resulting in Twitter’s case, a global phenomenon. Rather than investing in hardware and software, venture capital can be directed at people, marketing and the pay-as-you-grow cloud.
Now perhaps you don’t see a value in Twitter, but maybe you’re a health services firm with a concept to transform the way people connect with their medical practitioners, or a legal specialist with a concept to share precedents amongst the industry faster. Either way, the cloud eliminates one major barrier which is the cost of the infrastructure allowing breathing room for the concept itself to grow, there are other barriers such as finding qualified software developers or marketing a concept that hasn’t been tested before, but these are business problems not IT problems and really this is where the ideas man or womanought to be able to centre his or her focus.
Cloud (in particular the elastic Public Cloud) has not yet been tapped by small to medium business and has largely been used by start ups and big business. When ideas people catch on to this technology we will see a fundamental shift in the way we do business.
In summary, next time someone says “tell him his dreamin’ ” let’s just remember that for a few dollars per hour, that ideas man could very well reshape an entire marketplace.