by Mike Pearl

Your as-a-service playbook for large enterprise has arrived

Feb 21, 2017
Cloud ComputingSaaS

Welcome to the 'configurable enterprise' era.

At the busy and chaotic intersection of cloud computing and the as-a-service economy, spinning up sophisticated technology or enough computing power to compete with the largest companies now takes little more than the swipe of a credit card. Startups and smaller companies that are lean, nimble and can change trajectory or shift competency on a dime respond well, but traditional enterprises find it difficult to change course.

How can cloud and the as-a-service economy be practically applied by large enterprises to turn the “slow moving ship”?

For larger enterprises whose nature is not organizationally, culturally or departmentally equipped to handle such rapid transformations, how can they possibly begin to apply the principles of the as-a-service economy and be successful when functioning on what might feel like the periphery of their traditional wheelhouse? The trick is to work within that very system; ushering in the era of what I call the configurable enterprise.

What is the configurable enterprise?

Take the way we think about smartphones as an analogy. A smartphone has three parts: hardware, the operating system, and the apps that run on top of it. For every user, the hardware and OS are the same, but the apps are where the real experience and value-add happen. There are a lot of apps that do different things all with the same data, and they are customizable and therefore can vary quite a bit between users, making for a vastly different experience depending on preferences and need. Core components are the same, but the additional options are fully customizable based on circumstances and lifestyle. 

Enterprises can also be thought of as having a similar set of parts. The hardware is your company’s core competencies, intellectual property, market share, and culture. Your operating system is the fusion of your business operating model and IT operating model. Your apps are wide ranging ‘as-a-service services (ranging from computing to analytics to mobility) that quickly integrate into your core assets to create new businesses and revive existing ventures. App-like flexibility will increasingly determine the success of the enterprise through allowing rapid monetization of great ideas – ideas which previously would have taken years and millions of dollars to develop.

How can your enterprise become ‘configurable’?

What this means for enterprises at a minimum is that IT and business operating models must converge to create a single digital operating model.

Successful enterprises will have to:

  • Find ways to adapt the ‘as-a-service technologies for business, whether through monetization of core data, value-added services, cost savings through rapid scale, or any number of methods
  • Move fixed assets to consumption based models and transform them into ‘as-a-service components
  • Effectively integrate ‘as-a-service testbeds and R&D back into the economy at a quicker pace than before, because gone are the days where it will be possible to sustain different departments or an unintegrated R&D arm. Gone too are the days of two-year development cycles

Unlocking innovation can come from within, without major shifts in company culture or core business competency. Success will come from existing intellectual property, served up in new ways through enterprise configurability assisted with cloud computing foundations and supporting digital operating models. Enterprises already have the foundations that lead to a successful configurable enterprise at the core; the possibilities just need to be unlocked.