Over the past several years, I have evaluated a number of solutions and services in the cloud computing market. As time goes in, one would hope to see a change to the maturity of a marketplace. While market maturity has happened in some aspects, there is one key aspect that is still missing for many providers of cloud services. Innovative solutions need onramps. Without them, it hinders adoption and progress.
Not a New Problem
This problem is not new. In fact, it is quite common. Coming from an IT perspective, there are two very good reasons why they do not exist. First, IT is complex. Each company and their environment pose a unique situation that is hard to string a common thread between. In essence, every company would require their own, unique onramp. The second reason is that providers are focused on the value of their solutions and less about how to get to their solutions. The same is true for moving from their solution, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
But is IT really that complex? Yes and No. Sure, different organizations choose to configure their solutions very differently. Everyone has his or her reasons for doing so. I’ve seen this happen time and time again. But is it necessary? More importantly, does it create business value? Unfortunately for many cases, the answer is no. Solutions are overly configured because 1) we can and 2) because we “think” it is useful or valuable. But it creates larger challenges down the road with upgrades and solution changes. That is not new. It has been happening for as long as I can recall.
That being said, should providers create onramps? Yes. And IT organizations should help enable those changes.
Similar to a major road system, without onramps, it makes access difficult or impossible. Consequently, the value of the solution is lessened. To be clear, onramps are not simply an engagement for professional services. Onramps need to be repeatable, reusable solutions that customers can use on their own. An onramp could take the form of a tool or methodology.
Building an onramp creates a number of advantages. 1) Onramps make it easier to use the new solution. IT organizations are already overwhelmed with the number of demands coming their way. Onramps create a relatively easy way to start using the new technology or solution more quickly. It also differentiates between solutions based on their speed of adoption.
Offramps: Onramps Quiet Cousin
Just as important as an onramp, offramps are also needed. Few providers really want to talk about them. But customers do. Why? They create an easy way for customers to move from one solution to another. They prevent ‘stickiness’ of customers. Arguably, it moves the focus from preventing customer churn to providing value where they (customers) want to stay with the solution. How many times have customers said “it’s easier to deal with the pain and issues than move to another solution”. It happens quite a bit.
Of course there are legitimate reasons for change. Businesses change. So must the solutions the leverage. And the solutions change too. The relationship between a provider and customer is constantly in flux. Unfortunately, the relationships are not changing as much as they should for the business. That dynamic can change with onramps and offramps.
Bottom Line: Technology innovation is hindered by the lack of access. Creating easier access will catapult the speed of adoption. Similarly, creating bidirectional access moves the focus to value creation.