Recently, I traveled to Spain for the annual Sage Partner Summit. As a Sage Rockstar partner, I was keen to attend our first summit. Seville is amazing! If you have to travel for work, I recommend finding a reason to visit Spain.
I attend a lot of conferences, which has its pros and cons; travel time, time away from my family and the office, and the guilt that comes with all that. But while in Seville, I had a chance to meet and hear from some really interesting people.
One of the keynote speakers was Philip Carter, Chief Analyst, Europe at IDC. He gave a fascinating talk about the power of the Cloud. He clearly articulated the way I feel about the Cloud – in a better way than I’ve heard before. Ever since that speech, I’ve been trying to advocate and educate along his line of thinking.
Cloud computing has been around for many years and most of the upside has been easy, affordable, scalable, and has required no IT support. And for many people that’s amazing. It’s a game changer. It makes technology accessible. Why pay a whole bunch of money for something, when you can simply pay $X per users, per month? Technology on demand. Oh, did I mention – for my corporate finance audience – no IT support needed.
When you look at software with a more traditional lens, these are the benefits of the Cloud. When you let go of the traditional view of software, you can start to see that easy, affordable, scalable, and no need for IT involvement are just side benefits. So, what is the real value of the Cloud? Back to Philip Carter of IDC; Cloud enables multiple technologies to interface in a way that just wasn’t possible on premise. Cloud is an enabling technology.
In the traditional view of software, one often falls into the “Suite” mindset – ‘Let me find one software vendor that is going to build software that will solve all my challenges.’ As an aside, the reality is that even these vendors don’t build one set of organic code – typically they purchase multiple solutions and cobble them together.
In a more progressive mindset, you think in terms of “best of breed.” You take the components that solve the problem in the best way and make them work in harmony. This is where the Cloud comes in. Simply put, it enables various technologies to work in harmony. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
Here’s the example that Philip used in Seville. A trendy Guatemalan shoe store, named Meat Pack, launched a very innovative use of technology in a recent marketing campaign called Hijack. Using GPS tracking technology, the store’s mobile app detects the location of their target customer. If the customer enters a nearby competitor’s store, a discount clock is triggered on their smartphone starting a countdown from a 100% discount, and dropping by 1% each second – the user is therefore encouraged to ditch their competitors and race to nearest Meat Pack store in order to get the highest possible discount. Brilliant! One individual received a record 87% discount.
I love this example. If you Google Meat Pack Hijack, you can find YouTube videos of people sprinting through malls trying to get the discount!
This is a really creative example of bringing disparate technologies together to work in harmony to provide an innovative experience to the customer.
Let’s bring this back to our day-to-day (unless you’re a retailer, in which case you should consider hijacking your competitor’s customers!). How does the Cloud and “best of breed” apply to you? When you think about bringing various technologies together, you should think less of the corporate applications that you are currently using, and more of the emerging technologies that are preparing to disrupt your world. Most significantly, Artificial Intelligence (AI).
I speak and write a lot about how AI will disrupt the Office of Finance. This is very real. As Finance and IT leaders, you should be preparing for a shift in how you work. For you to leverage the most current AI technologies – the Cloud is essential.
At Prophix, we’re out to fundamentally change how FP&A works. We’ve been doing it by automating and streamlining financial processes. We’re planning to accelerate that work with a series of AI-related advances in our field. Does that mean we’re developing our own AI technologies? And competing with the likes of Google and Amazon – NO! In the Cloud, we’re weaving many disparate technologies together to provide an innovative experience to the customer.
It’s an exciting time at Prophix!
I’ll share more of our journey in the Cloud and with AI in an upcoming webinar, you can register here.
Engage with me any time; I love comments and feedback!