By Todd R. Weiss
If your business isn't learning from how other companies do business, then I'd say you're missing some great lessons.
Take a great idea that was described in a story this week on Forbes.com: Several forward-thinking start-ups are getting products onto the market by leveraging the cloud and other resources without having to invest in their own expensive IT infrastructure.
It's a simple idea, and incredibly smart, too.
So what's the lesson here for your company? It's right in front of you. Yes, your business may not be the size of a multi-national corporation, but are you aware you have access to many of the same IT business tools that fuel those huge corporations? That's where the power of the cloud can be one of your greatest friends and business tools.
Image credit: Hewlett-Packard Co.
It's where the cloud can be a business equalizer and help your small- or medium-sized business move to the next level by bringing in IT capabilities you may only have dreamed of in the past.
"With so many low-cost resources at entrepreneurs' beck and call, the groundwork is being laid for the next generation of businesses," the Forbes.com story reported. "Plus, the beauty of this extreme lightweight business model is that it isn't just limited to startups. Innovators within larger enterprises, seeking to test or explore new markets, can also take advantage of cloud resources to assemble and package services for consumption by customers."
The story detailed how one company, Visible Market, began a year ago by using the cloud as its IT platform. The company's product is StockTouch, a mobile app that tracks financial data, according to Forbes.com. Jennifer Johnson, the CEO and co-founder of Visible Market, told Forbes.com that by using the cloud services, her company "was able to launch quickly and with relatively modest costs, and also is capable of expanding into new markets, with the same speed and agility, with new apps offering financial information and analysis."
To launch its StockTouch app, the company did it without its own servers or IT infrastructure, relying instead on the cloud and outside providers, Johnson told Forbes.com. "We launched our company with three people. We wouldn't have been able to have done that without the cloud."
By using cloud services, the startup was also able to expand its technical expertise without having to bring in more people at the very start, Johnson said. "We would have had to hire data engineers and more people on the tech side, and a longer runway of time to be able to do what we have done,'" she told Forbes.com.
That's the kind of startup thinking that all kinds of businesses, even established companies, should be considering nowadays. New ideas in IT can be scary, but often new ideas can give us innovative ways of doing something we couldn't do before for our companies and business processes.
That's where the value of looking to the innovators of today – the startups that are taking big risks and trying new ways of doing things – can be hugely beneficial to all companies from small to huge.
Just imagine, if cloud services can do so much for startups, imagine what they could do for your company as you harness the tools in the cloud. You might find that your company can move more quickly to market with services or products because your cloud IT infrastructure could be more agile, more flexible, more reliable and more scalable than your existing systems.
So don't let startups alone discover and utilize all the benefits of the cloud.
This kind of thinking can be inside your business, too.
Are you ready to check out the possibilities?
Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist and freelance writer who worked as a staff reporter for Computerworld.com from 2000 to 2008. Weiss covers enterprise IT from cloud computing to Hadoop to virtualization, enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM and BI, Linux and open source, and more. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies. You can follow him on Twitter @TechManTalking. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org