EXPERT ADVICE

The Disruptive Technology Myth

“Disruptive” technologies do not destroy industries — they may, however, create new ones. Whether we like it or not, we are in a constant state of flux. The technology industry, just like any industry, is incredibly dynamic and changing — and with change, comes opportunity.

PC World’s Dan Tynan gets it. He called out “The 10 Most Disruptive Technology Combinations”. … There needs to be a “two-part punch” to really disrupt the status quo. Industries evolve based on new technology, but the real test is how companies use the technology to change their delivery model and sales structure.

Previous Plays

The wheel, the telephone, the microprocessor, the Web — now these are examples of truly innovative “game changers.” Arguably, even those mega-disruptors created or strengthened more industries than they dissolved. Years ago, many claimed the exodus of the computer from the enterprise data center was near. I have not seen a computer-less data center recently, but if you have, please let me know.

Currently, Web service providers such as Amazon, Google and even Force.com claim that the Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud offerings will change the way the entire world operates — and, in so doing, will destroy existing technology businesses.

That simply is not true. In fact, Amazon likely buys more computers and storage systems than any other company in the world.

These powerhouse Web service providers are not changing the game; they are simply buying things in bulk and reselling them virtually. What Amazon, Google and Force.com are doing well is creating a new delivery model and a new sales structure so that customers build additional applications on top of their technology foundation until they are at the core of the business itself.

Calling Out Cloud Myths

Let us explore the top three myths surrounding the “disruptor du jour”: the SaaS cloud.

Myth: The SaaS cloud is disruptive.

Everywhere you look, the SaaS cloud is being pegged as a “disruptive” technology. Many think that if a solution is “in” the cloud — whether it is customer relationship management software or a service that ensures any file you send to internal/external business partners gets where it needs to be — it is automatically disruptive.

Providing something virtually is NOT disruptive; cloud computing is not the disruptor. The real disruptor is how you use it, why you use it and where you use it.

Myth: Throw it into the cloud, and it will be a success.

You can toss it up, but there is no guarantee anyone will be there to catch it. Any technology can be put “into” the cloud, but few will be successful. To have a successful SaaS/cloud offering, the underlying technology must be:

    1.) Proven

    2.) Secure

    3.) Scalable

If you cannot check “yes” for all of those components, then your solution will not be successful — in the cloud or on the ground. However, a SaaS/cloud technology solution that works and is mature can effectively transform something that is very complicated and expensive, and make it significantly more simple and accessible. If successful, it becomes available to all users at a very low cost, with a very high service level and an incredibly rich set of services.

Myth: The cloud will ruin the technology industry.

The industry “experts” beating this drum are dead wrong. Virtual offerings will not destroy any industry. While cloud-based offerings will continue to make innovators rethink their delivery models, the need for enterprise software/hardware will not go away — at least, not any time in the foreseeable future.

Computers, hardware, storage, routers, racks and networks — they are all still here, and they are more critical to businesses of all sizes than ever. They are simply being used in different ways and for different reasons — and one might argue, much more efficiently.

True Transformers

The technology industry is fluid, and the innovative leaders across all sectors will use the SaaS cloud to make their technology offering more accessible, grow their bottom line, and build on their success. It opens a new door for technology providers to offer enterprises the tools that they need and pay only for what they use — eliminating previous infrastructure and cost barriers.

While not every technology is made for the cloud, there is significant opportunity to use the cloud to your advantage, whether you are a technology provider or a technology consumer. So, before you bury your head in the sand, think about how you can embrace the cloud and make it work to your advantage.


Sandy Weil president and CEO of Proginet.

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