Successful positioning of new products or services helps a company stand out as a market leader or locate a market niche. It comes from the right insights and anticipations into the future markets, the right understanding of one’s own strengths and limits, as well as the confidence to win. The right positioning is crucial for a player who does not have the luxury to experiment all possible scenarios at the beginning of a market entry. Even for a large player with deep pockets, in a fast growing and shifting market as cloud computing today, losing money could happen much faster than gaining dominance. The right positioning from the beginning can help establish a company’s innovative leadership and reputation in customers’ minds and quickly gain market shares. Catch-up games in a competitive market, especially with disruptive innovations, are often more costly and have lesser chance to win.
For the right positioning as a Public Cloud provider, TriStrategist thinks a company needs to decide first on these initial differentiations:
- A “Department store” or a “specialty store”?
- A global player or a local player?
- An infrastructure player or a technology solution player?
- A fit-all provider or a specific market-segment provider?
These choices are not necessarily mutually exclusive. As the cloud computing market evolves, offering choices and levels will evolve with it. Nonetheless, these considerations will help narrow down one’s targets, save money and time at the beginning of the game in a new, vast but low-barrier market.
A winning position always comes with the right set of strategies to win. TriStrategist believes that Public Cloud providers need to focus on establishing the following one or more strategic advantages with their positioning, fast and clearly, in order to ensure long-term sustained growth or gain market leadership.
1. Geographic advantage
At the current early adoption stage of cloud computing, IaaS may still be the initial entry choice and logical offering for many, especially for “department store” players, although things could quickly change. IaaS has the nature of low-barrier-for-entry and low-barrier-for-switching. It has already started moving towards a commodity service proposition similar to utilities. Surviving utility companies usually own certain geographical dominance due to the heavy geo-centric infrastructure investments to fence off competitions from the price war alone. Not surprisingly, Public Cloud providers on IaaS may well need a similar defense strategy today.
Globally, country and jurisdiction barriers to business remain. Data privacy and sovereignty will be on-going concerns. The strategic placements of data centers will continue to be critical for cloud providers, for redundancy, for data security and privacy, for low latency, and for the availability of local offerings and support. For the next few years, the most significant battle field for global geographical advantage will likely be in China. China still has very low cloud infrastructure and service coverage due to the tight controls and protections from the government, but things can change quickly as Chinese government and its booming industries cannot tolerate the lag any longer. The importance of this market is not only at its huge commercial potentials, but also at its geographical size and central location for the entire APAC region and the whole globe. Today, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon all have been very busy in gaining some foothold in this market.
2. Big Data Advantage
Data to cloud computing is the water to natural clouds in the sky, flowing in and out in various forms. Eventually all data will live in clouds, public or private. If we believe 90% of the data in the world today was created in the past two years, we only saw the tips of an iceberg as more and more data will be generated and flooding in, especially unstructured data. The data reality of the cloud computing age demands compelling Big Data stories and an outstanding ecosystem of Big Data solutions and tools from a successful Public Cloud provider. These offerings also need be on-par or able to connect with the great innovations in data technologies of today and tomorrow.
3. Business Transformation advantage
Cloud computing has also displayed on several fronts the disruptive nature to businesses, especially by SaaS and its possible future variances. Today the worldwide market adoption rate for public cloud services is still low and the differences of on-going technology levels in business and IT operations are extremely wide and apart. Even in the US, on one side, some industry frontiers are moving forward with mind-blowing speed and explosive innovations, such as in computing & IT, biotech, materials, etc. However on the other side, many traditional businesses including governments are still running on very old technologies, slow, fearful, lack of visions, resources or confidence to change. The survivals of many businesses depend on their speed to transform. How to demonstrate the future possibilities and provide quick and easy solutions to transform their IT and business better than competitions should definitely be in the core strategies of Public Cloud providers. This will likely be the area bearing the highest growth potentials and profit margins in the near future for cloud computing.
4. Flexibility in platform and offerings
Flexibility ensures future extensibility. Market demands will vary and growth scenarios enabled by cloud computing will vary. Even today at the earlier stage, flexible offerings tailored to customers’ specific needs are often preferred, in both IaaS and SaaS. Tuning into this advantage will allow more room for a player to win in the long run.
More than ever we live in a ubiquitously connected and technology-driven world. Cloud computing opens up new dimensions of possibilities where many innovations, disruptive or continuous, will be born. If the future competition is going to resemble a marathon race no longer on gravity-controlled earth, but in zero-gravity space, then every business must have an open mindset to envision, explore and experiment from today.
For further in-depth discussions on the right positioning and winning strategies specific to your business, or how to implement them in details, please contact TriStrategy.