It’s a cliche but in cloud computing we really are missing the wood for the trees. Perhaps unfairly, I blame IT vendors for pushing ‘x as a Service’ ad nauseam. Most people hear all those tech terms and tune out. Yet, cloud computing as a business strategy has the potential to be a game changer. Businesses, politicians and policy makers have to understand that cloud computing represents table stakes for international competitiveness today, a necessity rather than tech blah blah.
Conditioned by thinking in physical terms- our small market and geographical isolation- the transition to digital and Internet thinking is not easy. It’s made worse by our collective failure to lift our sights from tech talk to strategic thinking, both at a business and country level.
Cloud computing does offer potentially significant benefits for the intended audience of IT vendor-speak, enterprises. All the talk of reduced operational costs, shift from capital expenditure to operational costs, access to best practices, reduced time to market, and increased agility/flexibility is true. But that’s missing the wood for the trees. Worse, we are drowning in a sea of IT vendors proclaiming how they have the bestest and truest cloud solution.
At the most fundamental level, cloud computing is truly about enabling new business strategies. It is about New Zealand overcoming physical limitations of market size and the tyranny of distance. It is about New Zealand businesses looking at the world as their market from day one. It is about having access to a cost base that only global scale can provide. It is, ultimately, about New Zealand businesses competing globally.
It is unfortunately also about continued marginalisation if we don’t grasp the opportunity now.
It would be great if our Internet infrastructure- data centres and connectivity- allowed us to be a global source for cloud computing resources. But that doesn’t stop us from using global cloud computing services to address global markets.
The reality is that New Zealand businesses cannot compete globally using New Zealand Internet infrastructure as their cloud computing resource. Just as we tout our design capability and manufacture overseas for global markets, so too should businesses take advantage of New Zealand’s attraction to global talent to base their intellectual grunt here while using overseas cloud computing services to deliver globally.
The Government can help. For example, by changing the punishing employee share options taxation laws. Or, building the New Zealand brand by being a world leader in addressing climate change. This will add to the advantages we already have, such as the ease of starting a new business, being corruption free, and solid privacy laws.
However, it is really up to businesses to understand and grasp the opportunities strategically. Some of them have already done so but the vast majority need to translate tech terms into business opportunities with an Internet mindset, consciously overcoming the mindset of physical goods and services.