Category Archives: Technology

How Strategy – Not Technology – Is The Real Driver For Digital Transformation

How Strategy – Not Technology – Is The Real Driver For Digital Transformation

The Real Driver For Digital Transformation

Business owners and executives today know the power of social media, mobile technology, cloud computing, and analytics. If you pay attention, however, you will notice that truly mature and successful digital businesses do not jump at every new technological tool or platform.

While they do not sit and wait for months or years to create social media pages or to take advantage of new analytical services, they do approach every piece of technology that they use with a solid strategy. Why? Marketing, production, and brand management require concrete planning to be effective and coherent. Implementing new technology without a set strategy is a recipe for failure – or, at the very least, for ineffective use of an otherwise powerful tool.

The Importance of Digital Strategy and Vision

To make the most use out of the technologies and tools available to your business today, you must have a coherent and cohesive digital strategy. Companies that have good digital strategies are said to be “digitally mature” and are more likely to embrace the most strategic technologies as they are developed, rather than casting about, trying everything, and failing to use most of it to their advantage.

Predictive Marketing

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

A good digital strategy is born out of a vision for the company. Savvy leaders will understand that they must first envision the form they want their business to take, the presence they want it to have online and in the physical world, and the brand tone and voice they will use to engage with customers across all media. This is the basis for a strong strategy that will carry you through software and hardware updates, new tools, social media platforms, and much more.

Technology Gives You Analytics – Strategy Shows You How to Use Them

Now, we are not saying that technology is unimportant. In fact, without data streams and analytics, you would have a much more difficult time collecting the information you need on your customers, website traffic, and the market in general. Without analytical tools like these, you would have a much harder time finding the data to make your next strategic move.

However, you might think of your analytics and data streams as the tools to fix your car and your strategy as your mechanic’s knowledge and experience. You could have all of the tools necessary to change the struts on your wheels, replace the alternator, or do anything else to repair your car, but those tools will do nothing for you if you don’t have the knowledge and experience necessary to perform those jobs.

With a solid strategy, you’ll have a guide for how to use the tools that technology gives you. You’ll see how your business can embrace these tools and platforms, how it will change and evolve, and how to continue to use them in the future as they become a part of your business. Without strategy, you might get lucky and choose the right platform, the right analytics tools, and the right interpretations of the data in front of you…but it’s highly unlikely.

Businesses that put strategy before technology and then use that strategy to embrace and fully utilize that technology show a digital maturity that will drive them into the future and help them to maintain sustainable growth and success.

Have you implemented a digital strategy for your business? What’s changed since you’ve embraced your strategy, and what are your recommendations for strategy and data-driven technology for business owners and executives like yourself?

Let us know what you think and how you’ve used your digital strategy to set your business apart from the competition.

By Ronald van Loon

(Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse. You can periodically read Ronald’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on these new programs)

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

Cancer Moonshot

In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around the goal of finding a cure for cancer. President Obama put his second-in-command, Vice President Joe Biden, in charge of “Mission Control” for the cancer moonshot efforts.

Though this is certainly an ambitious undertaking, what’s encouraging is that the project isn’t starting from scratch. Researchers and clinicians have already made remarkable progress in the forms of research, clinical trials, drug development and more. There already have been many masterful achievements that propel this effort to its goal. For example, the successful mapping of the human genome nearly two decades ago provided a tremendous jumping-off point for customized cancer treatments and potential cures. But in order to land this moonshot, there must be significant innovation in how all of these stakeholders communicate, collaborate and share important information.

hipaa-cancer-care

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Silo-breaking: as vital as funding?

Two of the biggest challenges of this project are to provide increased funding to the strategic participants, and to increase collaboration and information sharing among the numerous research teams and clinicians all around the world. Vice President Biden has said that he wants to “break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together—to work together, share information, and end cancer as we know it.” The goal is to double the pace of progress, or as he put it: “to make a decade worth of advances in five years.

Those of us in the cloud computing community are especially invested in the efforts to increase coordination, eliminate silos and open up access to information. These things can only be done through improving upon and innovating technology solutions, so that storing and managing data doesn’t kill productivity. Let’s consider some of the issues that will affect what underlying technologies can be utilized to further drive collaboration and support access to information.

Protecting massive amounts of private data

A project of this magnitude will have massive amounts of data, generated by a multitude of sources. These large data sets must use common data elements (data descriptors, or metadata) to ensure that researchers are comparing apples to apples. Toward this end, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has developed the Common Data Elements (CDE) to serve as a controlled vocabulary of data descriptors for cancer research. The CDE will help facilitate data interchange and inter-operability between cancer research centers.

Big data and learning algorithms will enable researchers to identify patterns and anomalies that, for instance, may help to identify patients who can benefit from standard treatments, or whose tumors require a different approach. Given that these large data sets will contain highly personal patient health information that can’t be anonymized, they will need to be protected with the strongest measures for data privacy to protect patients‘ rights and to maintain HIPAA compliance.

Preserving data integrity through controlled access

collaborate

Of course, data integrity is of paramount concern. The data and other forms of information will come from numerous sources, and technology solutions will be needed to ensure that it maintains its consistency—that it isn’t inappropriately accessed and changed or corrupted. This means that access control to research information is critical. Yes, the project aims to increase sharing of data, but it needs to be shared with the right people in the right ways. Much of the information will be in documents, not databases, and this means access control, version control, and document retractions and expirations are important features for the underlying collaboration technology. And of course, all this must be done with strict HIPAA compliancy and patient privacy.

Setting content free to get work done

The time spent on collaborating and sharing information has ballooned by 50 percent or more over the last two decades, according to Harvard Business Review. Too much time is wasted trying to piece together disconnected information among team members who are scattered across the globe, leaving little time for actual work to get done.

Teams need virtual workspaces built for specific business and clinical research processes. Think in terms of flowing content across the extended ecosystem, instead of just improving systems of record behind the firewall. To take on this initiative, the clinical research community requires what some industry analysts call “systems of engagement,” meaning information only comes to life when it is put to use and acted upon. But many technologies fail to account for specific use cases (such as global clinical research) or the security and compliance needs of information in motion (such as confidential patient data).

In this race to exterminate cancer, the first challenge that must be resolved is to control the flow of information across the complete content lifecycle — even after external sharing — while also setting that information free so those who access it can increase productivity. Solving the collaboration challenge will ultimately allow researchers to remain focused on the important work of the cancer moonshot initiative.

The countdown is on…

By Daren Glenister

Cloud And The Military – In The US

Cloud And The Military – In The US

Cloud And The Military

Scandalous cost overruns; the newest high tech doesn’t work any better than very old tech; sweetheart monopoly deals with favorite defense contractors; sole sourcing key components from our enemies – the litany just goes on and on. The military’s relationship with technology always seems to be like watching a slow motion car crash. What are they doing with cloud computing? Could it be they are going to get it right? The answer is a hopeful “maybe” and the story of their journey is a real lesson to all.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is a huge user of IT services. It spends $30 Billion annually on IT. If DoD’s IT was a country it would be 101st among the world in GDP. It is also notorious for IT projects that have gone wrong, become boat anchors and worse. The emergence of cloud computing ten years ago and the Federal government’s “Cloud First” policy launched in 2009 pointed to a path that could lead to lower costs and more successful implementation of needed IT solutions.

private-cloud-tweaks-comic

First, it needed to overcome a pretty severe case of culture shock. The concept that the computers would not be in government facilities, run by government personnel or its contractors just rubbed everyone one the wrong way – most of all think of the security issues!

You have got to love the security argument. It is a well-known “secret” that 80% of the Pentagon’s IT are what is classified as “moderate” in sensitivity. The same kind of info your bank and health insurance company manages. We are not talking about putting the nuclear weapon codes into the cloud here, although how we do it today is in itself pretty scary.

Nonetheless, the pressure from above was significant so the institution responded by asserting in 2009 that it would build a cloud just for itself by itself. The DoD turned to its IT arm, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). So far they have had three strikes but are still swinging. Here is the tale: DISA launched two initiatives: RACE – Rapid Access Computing Environment – to supply Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud and STAX – Secure Technology Application eXecution – to provide Platform as a Service (PaaS).

With RACE you could get capabilities provisioned within 24 to 72 hours. This was when Amazon was enabling provisioning in its cloud in minutes. RACE was secure but expensive – and really in the end pretty much old school, not cloud. As you might have guessed, adoption of the offering was not a barnburner. STAX seems to have died a stillbirth common to a lot of attempts at PaaS at that time.

Regardless, DISA tried to force everyone, especially the separate armed services to adopt them under the ruse that it was a secure and honest broker of cloud services. You can just hear the drawbridge being raised to protect the entrenched bureaucracy.

Recognizing that these initiatives were not getting traction, five years later in 2014 the DoD launched “milCloud”.  Another attempt to establish a cloud internally for the military community. Built in two government data centers and managed by a no-name contractor in what looked like a sweetheart deal it offered much more cloud-like capabilities. It was definitely less expensive than RACE – except when you compared it to commercial cloud providers who were by then supplying government approved, secure clouds like AWS GovCloud. Once again, DISA had built a real winner – not!

Well here we are at the present time – seven years later and no one will tell how much money sunk – and the armed services are done with DISA’s attempts to hold back the tide. One by one, they are going direct to commercial providers who offer security, performance and cost effective cloud solutions. But, the bureaucrats just will not quit and so, last month DISA launched “milCloud 2.0”. Here is where they finally might have learned their lesson.

Rather than trying to build it themselves they are soliciting a commercial cloud service provider to come and deploy a community cloud in a DoD secure set of facilities. It looks like they are taking a page from the CIA who three years earlier in 2013 had contracted Amazon Web Services to build just that kind of thing for America’s spooks. That cloud is up and running and in fact if you have the right clearance you can even access a spy’s marketplace of solutions – pretty wild, isn’t it?

Now, before you shake your head, wring your hands and snicker at the foibles of government bureaucracy think about your IT shop. Think about how they are trying to defend their turf. Think about how users increasingly go around them. See the lessons? Hopefully, they are not blowing billions but how much time and money has been wasted?

By John Pientka

(Originally published May 26th, 2016. You can periodically read John’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on these new programs)

So How Will Big Data Impact Our Lives?

So How Will Big Data Impact Our Lives?

The Big Data Impact

Last week we took a closer look at a few of the differences between Business Analytics vs Data Science. Clearly there is great deal of interest in this field especially when leading analyst research firm IDC predicts that big data may soon reach worldwide revenues of nearly $187 billion by 2019.

Techcrunch recently spoke with Matt Turck who said: ‘We are entering the most exciting time for big data’. In 2010 only 2.5% of the Series A market was committed to big data. Today, the sector amounts to more than 7.5% of total venture investments.

So how will big data impact our lives? Included is an infographic discovered via mastersinit.org which takes a closer look.

big-data-info

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

There is a Difference – So Stop Comparing

We are all familiar with the old saying “That’s like comparing apples to oranges” and though we learned this lesson during our early years we somehow seem to discount this idiom when discussing the Cloud. Specifically, IT buyers often feel justified when comparing the cost of a Cloud IaaS or SaaS provider with that of a Cloud-Enabled Hosting Provider. These types of providers are very different and while each services a particular need effectively and efficiently; by no means should their solutions be compared from a price perspective. A simple illustration is when the costs of Azure or AWS are compared with those of a true Cloud-Enabled Hosting Provider.

cloudtweaks-comic

As defined by Gartner “cloud compute IaaS is defined as a standardized, highly automated offering, where compute resources, complemented by storage and networking capabilities, are owned by a service provider and offered to the customer on demand. The resources are scalable and elastic in near real time, and metered by use…” Leaders in the space are the familiar names such as Azure and AWS. By contrast, Cloud-Enabled Hosting brings cloudlike consumption and provisioning attributes to the traditional managed hosting market. It represents an evolution of a mature market, in which the wide variety of offerings and capabilities means vendors must be chosen with care and diligence.

When buyers compare the prices from Azure or AWS to proposals from a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider, they immediately jump to the conclusion that Azure or AWS is cheaper. Most professionals, including myself, may skip the proposal pages and jump straight to the last page which is the pricing page which results in basing a potential decision purely on pricing. Cloud-enabled managed service providers will always be higher cost but that is due to the fact they offer a more comprehensive solution. These solutions not only offers the IaaS component but also the layered services on top of that hardware to manage and monitor those assets on a 24*7 basis. This greatly increases the value provided by the Cloud-Enable Hosting Providers and thus the cost.

Today, many of these Public Cloud Providers offer more than just IaaS. In many cases, a myriad of applications are delivered in a SaaS model which offers a compelling solution to the traditional buy and build on-site philosophy. I strongly encourage IT to evaluate and embrace these solutions when appropriate as a tangible return on investment is often to be gained.

Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The following questions will help determine which solutions may best align with your IT strategy and enable you to identify if IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider is the correct path to follow. Once this is determined, pricing of “apples to apples” can be requested and correctly compared.

Are you looking to get out of the hardware business or looking to outsource? If the business strategy gravitates towards getting out of buying and supporting new hardware, then an IaaS provider may be the solution. If instead the business driver is also to eliminate in-house support, management and patching of servers then a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider is the better choice.

When the need arises, does your IT team seek a turnkey solutions or do they have the time, skill and knowledge to develop, implement and manage their own solutions? If the goal is turnkey, then a Cloud-Enabled Hosting Provider will be the right choice. If you prefer to do it yourself then a Cloud Provider IaaS or SaaS solution may fit well.

So, in no way am I diminishing the Public Cloud Providers that offer compelling solutions. My point is merely that when looking for more than an IaaS or SaaS solution, because business needs require a turnkey solution with fully integrated managed services, then a Cloud-Enable Managed Hosting Provider may better address your needs. As a result, the full scope of services delivered is more comprehensive than those supplied in an IaaS solution so the cost should be evaluated in light of that difference.

By Marc Maliazia

How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

How Formal Verification Can Thwart  Breaches

Formal verification is not a new concept. In a nutshell, the process uses sophisticated math to prove or disprove whether a system achieves its desired functional specifications. It is employed by organizations that build products that absolutely cannot fail. One of the reasons NASA rovers are still roaming Mars years after their intended lifespan is because the correctness of their software was mathematically verified before deployment. Similar trusted 24/7/365 technology is embedded into mission-critical airplane flight controls, medical devices, and military defense systems that are too important to malfunction.

Recently, a team of computer science professors and Ph.D. students in the EnterpriseWorks incubator at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) discovered how that same methodology can be applied to bulletproof today’s most complex networks to help prevent change-induced outages and breaches. Mathematical network verification is long overdue. Even if only 2% of modifications to a network’s configuration result in a change-induced outage or vulnerability, let’s put that in perspective: would you board an airplane if you knew that two out of 100 planes could fall out of the sky? Of course not. Why should we expect less from our networks? With so much sensitive data at stake, networks have to be as trustworthy as mission-critical systems and infrastructure.

Why Networks Fail

network

Four key factors have made network infrastructure particularly vulnerable to breaches and outages. First, when you factor in the cloud, virtualization, the move to software-defined networks (SDN), and mobile and IoT devices, you’ll quickly see that networks have become incredibly complex to manage. Second, every network change leaves an opening for something to possibly be misconfigured. By some estimates, operators of large enterprise or service provider networks make approximately 1,000 changes per month. Third, humans are a constant and unpredictable factor. Gartner analyst Donna Scott has noted that “80 percent of unplanned downtime is caused by people and process issues, including poor change management practices, while the remainder is caused by technology failures and disasters.”

And finally, there is poor policy management. According to the consulting firm Protiviti, one out of three enterprises and service providers lacks policies for IT, information security and data encryption, while 71 percent lack critical knowledge of which policies to institute to mitigate vulnerabilities and disruption. The fact is, most enterprises do not know what their network actually looks like at the deep infrastructure level, whether it is operating as it should be, and what vulnerabilities are lurking in the network. As a result, making any change to the network – even a day-to-day modification like changing access control rules or adding a device – is a time-consuming, manual and risky process. And broad architectural changes such as moving to a hybrid cloud or deploying SDN can be daunting projects.

How Formal Verification Works

Formal verification tries to predict the future: will my design work when I deploy it in the field? Will it always work, no matter what unexpected inputs or attacks are thrown at it? For example, a software application designer might want to know that her code will never crash or that it will never execute certain functions without an authorized login. These are simple, practical questions – but answering them is computationally challenging because of the enormous number of possible ways code may be executed, depending on the inputs and environments it interacts with. Decades of research advances in formal verification algorithms have led to the ability to rigorously answer such questions for certain kinds of software and critical systems.

shutterstock_131120717

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Can we understand the behavior of complex enterprises with the same mathematical rigor? In a network, we want to understand whether the design meets network-wide data-flow policy: Is my network correctly segmented to protect against lateral movement by attackers inside my perimeter? Will my web services be available even after a router interface failure? Today, these questions are addressed through manual spot-checks, auditing and change-review boards that might take weeks to provide answers, all of which still leave plenty of room for error. In contrast, mathematical network verification reasons automatically about the possible behaviors of the network.

Achieving that analysis required several innovations:

  • First, it required rigorous understanding of devices’ data-flow behavior, down to the data plane instructions, which are the “machine code” of the network.
  • Second, it required sophisticated, novel reasoning algorithms and compact data structures that can efficiently explore the exponentially large number of possible packets that may be injected at thousands or tens of thousands of devices and ports in the network.

Using mathematical network verification can help enterprises prevent the outages and breaches that lead to astronomical losses, both informational and financial. Unlike techniques such as penetration testing and traffic analysis, mathematical network verification performs exhaustive analysis of all possible data-flow behavior in the network, before it happens – before vulnerabilities can be exploited, and without waiting for users to experience outages. If there is a network policy violation, verification will find it and provide a precise identification of the vulnerability and how to fix the flaw. The underlying technology allows for millisecond-level analysis of security policies, enabling real-time alerting and policy enforcement, and can provide mathematical evidence that the network is correct, giving organizations the confidence to implement changes to their infrastructure.

Real-time Situational Awareness

Depending on how an organization applies mathematical network verification to its network, the technology can collect a real-time situational awareness of a network’s data-plane state (the lowest and most foundational information in a network device), develop a flow model of the entire network and perform a rigorous analysis of security policies in real time to detect vulnerabilities and policy violations.

In a world where a network intrusion can result in billion-dollar losses, brand damage and outages of critical functionality, mathematical network verification represents a significant step towards improving overall network health and preventing network outages and breaches. It is the only technology available today capable of providing rigorous, real-time analysis at the deep data-plane level of a complex network, and it produces a level of confidence not attainable by other approaches.

Mathematical network verification is a unique technology that has already demonstrated success in multiple Fortune 500 and government networks. We will likely see quick adoption of the technology when organizations discover how quickly and dramatically it improves network security and resilience, making change-induced breaches and outages a thing of the past.

By Dr. Brighten Godfrey

Monetizing The Cloud

Monetizing The Cloud

Starting up with the Cloud

While the cloud is helping businesses reduce costs, consider for instance that in 2011 starting an internet company cost around $5,000 as opposed to the $5 million price tag of 2000, it’s also encouraging revenue growth. In less than a decade, Airbnb has established itself as one of the world’s largest accommodation providers without owning any hotels, and services such as Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar have taken a significant chunk of the global taxi industry for themselves. The prodigious success of these brands begins with the cloud.

wireless-cloud

IoT

Putting the cloud to greater use, Philips Hue Connected Bulb allows consumers to control their home lighting from their mobile phones. But Philips isn’t only cashing in on the product revenue; they’ve added a one-time pay and free app to their services, too, for an extra revenue boost. Audi is another brand with a new monetization model. The 4G/LTW Wi-Fi hotspot navigation system uses Google Earth and Voice to provide real-time weather and traffic alerts, encouraging users to make use of their hotspot subscription offer. The range of IoT devices taking advantage of one-time pay and subscription monetization models is rapidly growing, and a cloud-connected car might just be the next big IoT monetizing platform with possibilities ranging from fuel efficiency meters to ride sharing to pay-per-use schemes.

Cloud Services

It’s evident that cloud service providers have already clued on to the wealth of monetization opportunities the cloud offers, but traditional businesses have been slower to the party. Amazon, Google, and their contemporaries both large and small are indeed using the cloud to its every advantage, but non-tech organizations seem typically to start and stop with the employment of a cloud infrastructure. Some of the larger brands have invested in mobile apps and services, but outside of the innovative world of startups, we haven’t yet seen many radical cloud monetization models.

Cloud Startups to Learn From

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BillGuard

Using crowdsourced analytics, this app helps users quickly detect fraud, billing errors and unwanted credit and debit card charges. It tracks a user’s shopping, and when a card is used away from its owner issues an alert.

Cheekd

Making online dating more tangible, Cheekd features cross-platform, low energy Bluetooth technology that works wherever you go and notifies you when someone meeting your criteria is within 30 feet. Meet cute anyone?

Cognotion

Cognotion’s cloud-based workforce solution combines cognitive science research with technology to improve the retention and performance of high turnover workers. Using 3D simulation, interactive cinema, and gameplay, the platform provides screening and predictive analytics for new recruits as well as initial and reinforcement training.

Docphin

Providing mobile solutions that help doctors make use of evidence-based medicine at the point of care, doctors are connected with relevant research and content. Institutions are also able to use Docphin to circulate hospital-specific protocols, clinical guidelines, and other references.

Mux

Founded this year, this startup is developing a streaming service that businesses can use to deliver video to customers. Hosting and processing the video themselves, Mux creates a superior viewing experience with less loading and buffering.

Venmo

Making payments fun and easy, Venmo is a mobile application that enables instant payment to anyone through money held in the app or from a linked bank account. Unlike PayPal, users are able to transfer money from the app to their own bank account in just one business day.

Skillshare

A learning community providing hundreds of classes taught by both industry experts and everyday people. Skillshare lets users create and share their project-based classes and learn and work at their own pace. Currently, this startup has over 180,000 students in 188 countries.

From workplace to lifestyle to health to education, the cloud is not only improving industry performance but increasing revenues. Isn’t it time conventional businesses make better use of the cloud innovation?

By Jennifer Klostermann

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud

Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but the early days of a transformational shift in the way Enterprises (large and small) purchase technology services. Enterprises are capitalizing on cloud infrastructure in creative ways, rapidly enabling offerings like Adobe Creative Cloud, Audi On-Demand car sharing service, and a myriad of Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives across verticals that are debuting on the market.

The Cloud as an Enabler of Growth

Companies have handled non-essential operations in the cloud for a while now, allowing them to focus on their enhancing their core capabilities. Increasingly, organizations are utilizing cloud solutions to handle mission critical components as well. Cloud billing has flourished in recent years and is surprising a lot of people with its ability to disrupt traditional transactional business models. Once considered mundane, cloud billing is now an enabler of more predictable recurring revenue and customer success.

cloud-billing

Outdated legacy systems that were built for longer production cycles and static market dynamics simply aren’t cutting it anymore. The cloud-based enterprise billing system is in a unique position to accelerate customer success with technology that speeds time-to-revenue of desired products and services, and subsequently allows rapid iteration of those offerings once launched. This process of innovative iteration is a true win-win in that it increases customer satisfaction, and ultimately customer lifetime value, and thus a company’s recurring revenue.

Modern, agile cloud billing systems are the new enablers. This has spawned an enormous market opportunity—recent estimates put the cloud billing market at $5.5 billion according to MGI Research. And the IoT market, projected by IDC to reach $7.1 trillion in 2020, will only increase recurring revenue numbers by the very nature of how IoT services are consumed per use or over time.

Back Office Goes Front Office

One of the primary values of recurring revenue initiatives is its inherent ability to grow customer satisfaction, as the majority of revenue happens post-sale. The goal is simple: keep the customer happy and retain/expand the relationship. Cloud billing has made its way to the front office, providing a strategic lever to impact customer lifetime value.

Analysts such as THINKstrategies have made the correlation between agile billing that powers predictable revenue streams and customer satisfaction, pointing to a shift in the way back-end finance systems can impact customer satisfaction initiatives. Agile cloud billing platforms provide a better overall customer experience by offering the ability to quickly iterate on offers and promotions in response to customers’ changing wants and needs. Designed with APIs and integration frameworks, they can also provide a unified customer view with the ability to serve upsells and cross-sells throughout the customer lifetime. The single customer view also enables a plethora of features like built-in provisioning, account management, promotions, self-service, customer support (today’s customers really don’t like dealing with call centers, and most companies really don’t like the exorbitant costs of staffing them). The result is increased efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Targeting Customer Centricity

Shop-Tech

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

As we focus on turning one-time customers into longtime champions, business success depends more and more on creating an exemplary customer experience. Many enterprises are looking to reshape themselves like agile startups—requiring more from their legacy systems that are too rigid and expensive to modify in order to satisfy the needs of an ever-changing on-demand market. Simply put, today’s Enterprises have lost patience with the inability of legacy systems to support their need for speed and agility, attributes without which they cannot effectively compete in the disruptive markets that surround us all.

The wave of enterprises turning to cloud-based innovators for a competitive advantage will continue to swell. Leaders will take advantage of these technologies to satisfy their customers, which in turn will maximize customer lifetime value and increase recurring revenue. Conversely, followers are likely to find themselves lost in the clouds.

By Tom Dibble

CloudTweaks Comics
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Driving Success: 6 Key Metrics For Every Recurring Revenue Business

Driving Success: 6 Key Metrics For Every Recurring Revenue Business

Recurring Revenue Business Metrics Recurring revenue is the secret sauce behind the explosive growth of powerhouses like Netflix and Uber. Unsurprisingly, recurring revenue is also quickly gaining ground in more traditional industries like healthcare and the automotive business. In fact, nearly half of U.S. businesses have adopted or are planning to adopt a recurring revenue model,…

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Verizon Cloud Report Enterprises using the cloud, even for mission-critical projects, is no longer new or unusual. It’s now firmly established as a reliable workhorse for an organization and one that can deliver great value and drive transformation. That’s according to a new report from Verizon entitled “State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016.” which…

The Importance of Cloud Backups: Guarding Your Data Against Hackers

The Importance of Cloud Backups: Guarding Your Data Against Hackers

The Importance of Cloud Backups Cloud platforms have become a necessary part of modern business with the benefits far outweighing the risks. However, the risks are real and account for billions of dollars in losses across the globe per year. If you’ve been hacked, you’re not alone. Here are some other companies in the past…

Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

Cloud Native Trends Once upon a time, only a select few companies like Google and Salesforce possessed the knowledge and expertise to operate efficient cloud infrastructure and applications. Organizations patronizing those companies benefitted with apps that offered new benefits in flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness. These days, the sharp division between cloud and on-premises infrastructure…

5% Of Companies Have Embraced The Digital Innovation Fostered By Cloud Computing

5% Of Companies Have Embraced The Digital Innovation Fostered By Cloud Computing

Embracing The Cloud We love the stories of big complacent industry leaders having their positions sledge hammered by nimble cloud-based competitors. Saleforce.com chews up Oracle’s CRM business. Airbnb has a bigger market cap than Marriott. Amazon crushes Walmart (and pretty much every other retailer). We say: “How could they have not seen this coming?” But, more…

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

Data Insecurity In The Cloud Today’s escalating attacks, vulnerabilities, breaches, and losses have cut deeply across organizations and captured the attention of, regulators, investors and most importantly customers. In many cases such incidents have completely eroded customer trust in a company, its services and its employees. The challenge of ensuring data security is far more…

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Cloud Architecture These days, Multi-Tier Applications are the norm. From SharePoint’s front-end/back-end configuration, to LAMP-based websites using multiple servers to handle different functions, a multitude of apps require public and private-facing components to work in tandem. Placing these apps in entirely public-facing platforms and networks simplifies the process, but at the cost of security vulnerabilities. Locating everything…

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…

Three Challenges of Network Deployment in Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Private Cloud

Three Challenges of Network Deployment in Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Private Cloud

Hyperconverged Infrastructure In this article, we’ll explore three challenges that are associated with network deployment in a hyperconverged private cloud environment, and then we’ll consider several methods to overcome those challenges. The Main Challenge: Bring Your Own (Physical) Network Some of the main challenges of deploying a hyperconverged infrastructure software solution in a data center are the diverse physical…

Cloud-Based Services vs. On-Premises: It’s About More Than Just Dollars

Cloud-Based Services vs. On-Premises: It’s About More Than Just Dollars

Cloud-Based Services vs. On-Premises The surface costs might give you pause, but the cost of diminishing your differentiators is far greater. Will a shift to the cloud save you money? Potential savings are historically the main business driver cited when companies move to the cloud, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a cost-saving exercise. There…