Constant innovation will be key to success in the cloud era


David Newbould, director, Cloud, Europe at Tech Data, believes that cloud-enabled digital transformation could lead us into an era in which the barriers to entry are lowered and corporate lifecycles are radically shortened.

Digital transformation is happening now and it is happening fast. The cloud has lowered barriers to entry, made it easier to access advanced technologies such as cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, analytics and IoT, and accelerated development. It’s suddenly possible to do much more with much less.

This has made digital transformation a powerful disruptive force and a catalyst for real change that could have quite profound impacts on the commercial world.

With every wave of technological development, we see a corresponding wave-form in the average company lifespan. As new solutions and ways of working emerge, so do new businesses. We also see an increased pace of change – and that makes it harder to keep up.

Consequently, the ebb and flow of business lifecycles also gathers momentum. Companies can go from start-up to becoming a massive gl0bal success much sooner. But they can also easily be left behind by more innovative newcomers.

In the 1960s and 1970s, we saw the rapid growth of international travel; in the 1980s and 1990s, globalisation made the word even smaller; in the 2000s, the Internet accelerated the pace of change even more. Now, in the 2010s, the cloud has shifted us up another gear. All systems are now being digitised and organisations are becoming entirely dependent on the cloud. It is a true and permanent transformation and there will be no going back.

Advanced technologies are available to developers all over the world at a fraction of what they might have cost in the past. New innovations and approaches are spreading and becoming available much faster. Just about anyone can enter any market, very quickly and cheaply. They can make their services available everywhere and grow at a phenomenal rate.

IDC predicts that by 2018 one third of the top 20 companies in every industry will be significantly disrupted by third-platform competitors. Some will be subsumed by other companies. Others will simply go bust, overwhelmed by the impact of new innovations and service delivery.

This could have profound implications for commercial investment and the balance between private and public companies in the financial sector. We have already seen a revolution of sorts with crowd-funding. But while plenty of people may be willing to bet on start-ups that could catch the next big wave, there may also be a contrasting reticence to back even established companies unless they are seen to be truly innovative and moving with the pace of change.

The only way to survive in this constantly changing and fast-flowing environment will be to innovate – constantly and relentlessly. In the digitally transformed era, it will be the companies that are investing the most in new ideas and technologies that are seen as the ones to back.

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