It was Thomas Edison who said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” As a man with over 2,000 patents worldwide to his name, we can all agree that he knew a thing or two about inspiration. And if you ever visit the museum housed in his old New Jersey workshop, you can witness the cornucopia of ideas that he generated and begin to appreciate exactly what he meant by “perspiration”. Simply put, the pathway to genius is paved with a vast amount of ideas that was built and tested using the right tools. In our modern-day digital economy, we call this strategy Agile Growth and one of our preferred tools is the Cloud.
Digital transformation as a journey
Over the past 20+ years, we’ve worked with companies such as Coca-Cola, Motorola, and Pfizer, to name a few. We’ve helped them transform their businesses in remarkable ways; and I can assure you that this process requires iterative learning. That’s why we describe the digital transformation process as a journey rather than a final destination. As we reported in our recent e-book, Igniting Your Agile Growth Strategy, this journey is really “shared with your customers, all of whom expect a seamless experience. There are also myriad steps to consider—from the initial leap into the digital realm, to remaining agile and adaptive as business strategies evolve.”
And of course, we can’t underestimate the importance of efficiency. Whenever you’re testing new ideas, it’s critical to test more products both efficiently and cheaply. The net result is that by managing your resources, you’re in a better position to do more. This is also why we embrace the Cloud as an essential tool for innovating. By using this architecture, and mostly PaaS, which provides an even higher abstraction level, we can cut infrastructure costs drastically and reduce app development efforts (and thereby costs). Now we’ve freed up resources to execute 10 times more experiments than the traditional data center model. Ultimately, it allows companies to put their innovation in the fast lane while adapting quickly and nimbly whenever necessary.
Cloud as a growth enabler
To illustrate how companies are using the Cloud to enable growth, let’s consider Snapchat, which was built on Google App Engine four years ago and still lives there today. By some accounts, Snapchat has 150 million daily users, yet it still uses Google’s Cloud service. Why? The answer is actually quite simple. For a startup, the initial investment was reasonable. Scaling up as demand increases is also a fairly simple undertaking. In fact, Snapchat claims that it hasn’t experienced any outages during its spectacular growth.
Fast, cheap and good. Pick three
Notwithstanding the meteoric rise of companies like Snapchat, most companies won’t need to accommodate 150 million users each day. But doing more with less is always a priority, especially when it comes to innovating. In IT, there’s a saying: “Fast, cheap and good. Pick Two.” But today with Cloud services from the likes of Google or Amazon, you can actually pick all three. So when you’re testing your ideas in controlled environments—or sandboxes—you can focus your energy on validating your hypothesis rather than managing servers and the often complex infrastructure necessary to make these digital products a reality.
There are also considerable security advantages to using Notwithstanding the news stories about hacking and data breaches are always disconcerting, the vast majority of servers don’t get hacked. Furthermore, companies like Google have several hundred security engineers monitoring their servers 24 hours a day. And these same engineers are constantly upgrading their security systems. Is that something you can say about your servers? Probably not. In all likelihood, if your company has its own servers, you’re probably behind the curve already.
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” ~ Thomas Edison
In my experience, there is no shortage of ideas in the corporate world, but there is a severe restriction on the ability to execute them. If we want to innovate like Edison, we must substantially increase our ability to give life to ideas…tons of ideas. It is the only way we can reasonably expect that a few of them will truly make a difference. The Cloud is a resource that you just cannot afford to leave out of your toolbox for today’s ever-transforming business environment.