Forget Software As A Service, Think Of Software As A Utility

There may be a few people left out there, in the technology industry as well as end customers, who still think that the Cloud is a fad. Is that’s you, it’s best to just pass this blog by. For now, anyway.

Everyone else is now madly searching for “Cloud Power”. Trouble is, no one’s exactly sure what it looks like. What is the exact nature of Cloud demand? What will it take to meet it? And make a viable business out of it? What does the customer really want?

The answer, I believe, is that today’s customer wants to consume technology NOT as a service, but as a utility.

For the better part of 3 decades now, as businesses have grown totally dependent on technology, they have also grown incredibly frustrated with it. It has consumed an ever increasing portion of the corporate budget, basically in the vain search for a lasting competitive advantage. But to the degree everyone has the same or similar technology, no one has an advantage. And of course, the technology industry itself exists to make sure this is the case. At that, it’s done exceedingly well.

Not so much the customers, though. They feel held to ransom by technology, many times. They can’t operate without it, or they lose competitive ground, and they feel forced to pay through the nose, to be experimented on and receive solutions that are both expensive and often don’t really hit the mark in terms of what the business needs. And really, they’re done with that. It’s as though the customer community has decided en masse that they’re mad as hell and just not going to buy it anymore. Cloud computing, to them, represents a way to consume the technology they really need, at a lower cost and with less risk. That promise has truly captured their attention, even though very few providers have been able to deliver it. Yet.

In short, customers want to consume technology as a utility. They want to just turn it on when it’s needed, and off when it’s not. They want to pay only for what they use. Of course, they want it to be appropriate to their business. And most importantly, they want someone to just take care of the details of making all that happen, without charging large sums for “services”.

Their logic, after decades of feeling experimented on at great expense, only to receive solutions that only do a part of what is really needed, is very simple. If you really know what you’re doing, you ought to be able to bring a full solution to the table, in exchange for a monthly subscription price. My setup costs should be minimal, too. And don’t even talk to me about customization.

If you can’t do this, you don’t understand my business, even though you’ve implemented hundreds of solutions. So move on. Let me know when you’ve got something real for me, but otherwise don’t waste my time. Don’t tell me how “complicated” and “unique” my situation is, unless you’re talking about a real strategic differentiator for me, and recognize that there won’t be many of those. Just keep me current with my competitors technologically, at a lower cost and with less risk.

In other words, provide me with technology as a utility. Not as a service.

A tall order, to be sure, and one that requires an entirely different business model to deliver. But like it or not, that’s what the customer wants. The question is if you’ll be the one providing it.

About the Author

Dana Willmer

Dana has over 20 years in senior marketing roles (including a stint as Vice President with a national credit card issuer). He has crafted and implemented numerous marketing, sales, customer loyalty, and product strategies, and had direct functional responsibility for business units ranging from insurance, travel fulfillment, and loyalty programs to outside sales channels. But it was as an early adopter of CRM software that he really got hooked on the technology business.