Monday, April 4, 2011

Advantages of Cloud Computing– Part XXVIII –Flexible Mobility II

Over a decade ago, after concluding a seminar I had given regarding Computer Aided Software Engineering in Honolulu, I was approached by a Japanese computer programmer from Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank. He could not grasp the issue of software revisions. He stopped me cold when he asked, “Why can’t you just get it right the first time?” It was a good question. To this day, I have been unable to come up with a convincing response.

In America, business rules and business practices are constantly in a state of flux, attempting to create great waves in a sea of concrete. Most software systems are obsolete before the producers can get them to market. This is no accident mind you. Without upgrades to their software, these companies would lose a substantial source of income. They purposely hold back on improvements until they can use them to entice their customers to buy expensive upgrades.

The idea of constant revisions and bug fixes in the face of inflexibility is similar to the television advertising conundrum I discussed earlier. Users of computer programs have become accustomed to waiting months, even years to have their software fixed, swapping vendors only when their patience has reached its absolute limit. This will change as companies become aware of alternatives. Believe me, your software providers will come up with all kinds of excuses to direct your attention away from cloud computing, or it will be THEIR brand of cloud computing where things stay pretty much as they were without the flexibility.

The environment of Cloud Computing is diametrically opposed to the practice of upgrades and new revisions, as it gives the software vendor no further excuses to legitimately avoid fixes and enhancements their customers need. Software companies will simply have to charge more and this will create a highly competitive environment allowing more companies to enter the market. It will also put an end to one vendor enjoying all of a customer’s business.  

The flexibility of being able to pick and choose software vendors and the mobility to move from one environment to another is an inherent component of Cloud Computing. In other words, Cloud Computing is aiming toward solving all the problems we have learned to live with, and software vendors will ultimately be judged on the services they provide and not how big or popular they have become in the past… just as Walmart pulled customers away from Sears and Montgomery Wards.

At no other time in the history of convenience stores is it becoming more important to micromanage items in your stores. Why? Because inflation is starting to take away what little profit you have enjoyed in the past. As your products’ costs continue to rise, you will do one of two things: Either you will not find out about it until it’s too late to act, or you will over-compensate and raise prices too quickly, forcing their turns to suffer. But chances are you will not know this until suddenly one day when management goes into a panic and starts ripping the stores apart to install something new they heard about at a trade show.

I see more and more operators abandoning the convenience store model in favor of making their stores resemble restaurants. While I agree, as consumers become more price conscious, convenience stores must and should explore more food service options, but I think it’s a mistake to assume it will make up for the losses in the traditional convenience stores’ categories. The more things we do to take our attention away from the items in the stores, the worse those problems will become.  If you’re not careful, you may end up with a thriving food service, being seriously undermined by a huge loss leader at the other end of the building.


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