How to Use the Cloud to Empower Your Business

Pretty much everyone today is aware of “the cloud” and associated technologies. From iCloud to Dropbox, Amazon’s personally tailored Kindle library to Microsoft’s Office 365. Cloud enabled software and services are all around us and growing in functionality and usage.

Also, new products and services are continually entering the marketplace. From smart refrigerators in your home that monitor food consumption and automatically order refills through your cloud based grocery profile, to “Wikipedia like books” that contain and share every reader’s markups, notes and cross references.

The cloud is here and consumer adoption is massive and growing!

The Cloud is a Huge Business Opportunity

In case you haven’t noticed, this is a huge opportunity for businesses to get a virtual lock on a customer! Cloud based business models can secure a solid stream of income for a long period of time by offering a compelling and valuable service.

Essentially, the consumer signs up, starts using the service and becomes “embedded.” The more value that is provided, the more the customer gets engaged within the offering, and the harder it is for them to leave!

As a bonus, businesses that are able to take advantage of the cloud and offer an attractive service or technology can then use the data that their customers provide to customize product offerings back to those same customers! This virtually guarantees a long-lasting income stream to those businesses that get it right.

Amazon’s personalized recommendations are a great example of this!

The more a customer uses your service, the more you learn about that customer. You then use this knowledge to present to them new services or products that they would find valuable. It really is a brilliant business model!

So, what steps can a business take to build a cloud based offering?

Build Your Own Cloud Based Services

Every business is unique and different so the path to a cloud based offering will be different for everyone. However, what follows are some general steps that will get you and your business started in building your cloud based powerhouse!

  1. Study an eclectic mix of existing cloud based services to see what you can learn or leverage. Start with these powerhouses:
    • Amazon Kindle software and internet marketplace
    • Amazon’s virtual servers
    • Google Drive
    • Dropbox
    • Microsoft Office 365
    • iCloud
    • FreshBooks account software
    • Salesforce
    • Cronometer.com
    • Evernote
    • Canary.is
  2. Determine what your business offers or could offer that would fit this model.
  3. Define several different options for structuring this value into a viable cloud based business.
  4. Make sure that there is no one already in this space or ensure that your offering would be significantly differentiated from these potential competitors.
  5. Evaluate existing cloud based platforms that you may be able to leverage rather than building something from scratch.
  6. Use a tool like the Business Canvas to document your proposed business model.
  7. Follow the Business Blueprint and define all aspect of the new business.
  8. Engage with a technology company to get a firm price on building the required internet infrastructure
  9. Build a minimally viable product (MVP) version of your offering and test it in the marketplace
  10. Gather market feedback, affirm viability, adjust your business accordingly

Take Action

The cloud based business marketplace is astronomically large and continuously growing. Therefore it must not be overlooked or ignored. Set aside some strategic planning time and dig into your business. Clearly understand and define what your business can offer in the cloud based business model and position yourself for success!

In conclusion, check out the following related posts that will help you with this journey:

 

“Creativity in business is often nothing more than making connections that everyone else has almost thought of.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just attach it to a new wagon.” Mark McCormack

 

How has your business leveraged the cloud? Leave your comments below!

 

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