Adopting the Cloud Drives Business Agility and a Competitive Agile Advantage

July 25th, 2014

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services, companies that are adopting cloud computing are winning the competitive advantage, and especially achieving business agility, which was found to the leading driver for adopting cloud among all respondents.

HBR surveyed 527 Harvard Business Review readers in large and mid-sized companies in a wide range of industries around the world. 44 percent of the respondents came from organizations with more than 10,000 employees and 34 percent from organizations with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees.Businessman working with a Cloud Computing diagram on the new co

Question: Are you or have you adopted the cloud in your business?

  • 70 percent of respondents had adopted cloud computing for some production use cases
  • 35 percent of adopters are very aggressively moving forward where ever it makes sense

Question: What is the result cloud adoption has had on your business?

  • 56 percent of aggressive adopters told HBR they were gaining a significant advantage as a result

Question: What is your leading driver for adopting the cloud?

  • 32 percent (of all respondents): business agility
  • 41 percent (of aggressive adopters): business agility
  • 14 percent: increased innovation
  • 14 percent: lower costs
  • 13 percent: capability to scale up and down in response to demand

Question: Have you entered into a new market since you adopted the cloud in past three years?

  • 49 percent of aggressive adopters - yes
  • 35 percent of moderates  - yes
  • 36 percent of cautious adopters – yes

Question: Have you been a part of a merger or acquisition since adopting the cloud?

  • 49 percent of aggressive adopters - yes
  • 29 percent of moderates - yes
  • 31 percent of cautious adopters - yes

Question: Among the companies that had already begun to adopt cloud computing, how has it improved company functionality?

  • 37 percent said it had simplified internal operations (e.g., HR, CRM)
  • 33 percent said it led to better delivery of internal resources (like web hosting or storage)
  • 31 percent said it led to new ways for employees to work, connect and collaborate
  • 23 percent of the respondents also cited faster rollout of new business initiatives to exploit new opportunities
  • 23 percent said they experienced improved ability to acquire, share, analyze and act on data

Overall, companies moving aggressively to adopt cloud computing are winning the competitive advantage by reducing complexity and increasing business agility. These companies that are leveraging the cloud for this advantage have two things in common: a champion at the C-suite level and a CIO that can drive change.

To view the original article, click here.

The Cloud for Modern Business

July 17th, 2014

Scott Guthrie, EVP of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise, discusses the evolution and ongoing transformation of the cloud, hybrid cloud and data in the cloud, and announces Microsoft Azure Certified, Microsoft Azure in Open and Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

To learn more, view the demonstration below.

 

Small Businesses: The Modern World is One Upgrade Away

July 11th, 2014

In this day in age, small businesses can benefit from the same technology as larger firms. This is in part because of cloud services like Office 365. The days of large enterprises having many advantages over small businesses when it comes to using and benefiting from the latest IT tools and services, is now over.

Office 365 allows small businesses to adopt enterprise-grade capabilities or even opt for a tailor made solution to meet the needs of their business, all at an affordable price point. The benefits of these new services are significant for smaller enterprises that need to work smarter – using better collaboration and communication, but they also help improve customer acquisition and retention. Consider the fact that 90% of consumers said they would take their business elsewhere if a small business was using outdated technology.*

See the main difference updating your technology can make in the chart below.

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* Microsoft commissioned and conducted a survey among 1,405 general consumers between September 13–16, 2013.

To view the original article, click here.

Printable Guides: Switching to Office 365 for business

July 3rd, 2014

Today we’re making it easier to move from earlier versions of Office desktop apps, and other products, to Office 365 for business. These printable guides contain useful tips, shortcuts, and screenshots to help you quickly find your way around.

Click here or on the image below to download the guides.

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Yammer brings conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files

June 27th, 2014

Microsoft’s Office 365 Team released the latest in leveraging the power of the cloud to bring people together. By embedding the social collaboration capabilities of Yammer into the Office apps you use to get work done every day, Microsoft has created a simple way for you to share ideas around Office documents, images and videos right from within the content they are editing or reviewing.

Ask questions, find expertise and offer feedback without leaving the application you are working in. You also have the ability to view and participate in conversations outside your document, on your mobile device, in Microsoft Dynamics CRM or any app where a Yammer feed is embedded.

Click on the video below to see how it works!

Yammer document conversations in Office 365 enabling contextual social collaboration from TopLine Strategies on Vimeo.

Crawl, Walk, Run to Cloud Adoption

June 20th, 2014

Cloud computing symbol being pressed by handHow can your organization be successful with cloud adoption? In order to accomplish this, you will need to develop careful planning and a road map with measurable metrics to help you along the way.

These stages are outlined on NetworkWorld.com in an article written by Carlos Granda, EVP with RiverMeadow, one of the best tool and solution vendors in the cloud migration space.

Stage One: Crawl

  • Internal readiness assessment: determine which processes, applications, dependencies and data are cloud-ready (not all applications belong in the cloud).
  • Market readiness assessment: determine which competitors are moving to cloud, with which processes and applications.
  • Prepare an adoption road map with all dependencies charted – people, applications, regulated data, regulations, business unit and customer SLAs, backup, storage and retention.
  • Develop a ‘future state’ vision that supports a cloud architecture not just for today, but also for tomorrow.
  • Use the discovery exercises to develop a road map that will have measurable, tangible, and short milestones to demonstrate quick wins and establish credibility.

Stage Two: Walk

  • Identify cloud services providers which meet your criteria and needs list.
  • Demand proof that selected cloud services offerings meet reliability, availability, scalability and security requirements.
  • Confirm the commercial viability of both the cloud offering and the cloud provider.
  • List deal breakers – anything that poses an operational or financial risk.
  • Partner with vendors who understand the market, have experience, and with a business model that aligns closely with your success to ensure cloud adoption.

Stage Three: Run 

  • Initiate sourcing action plan for cloud services.
  • Pilot options meeting your RASS requirements.
  • Identify a cloud mobility or migration tool.
  • Develop migration plan and road map.
  • Transition to new cloud services.
  • 2014 will be the year of the cloud adoption.

Remember, migrating to the cloud is a journey, not a destination.

Read Carlos Granda’s excellent full piece here

Become a Metrics-driven SaaS Business

June 13th, 2014

In order to become a successful SaaS business, it not only takes time and commitment, but of course, plenty of customers, particularly stable ones, which results from a low churn rate that comes from delivering operational value to clients over time. What are the stages of development to get there, and how can metrics help a firm to get there?

Joel York, a thought leader in this area, in his Chaotic Flow blog last month, proposed a nice four stage maturity model for this development towards the metrics driven SaaS organization. Click here to read the original article.

York classified a natural progression of increasing SaaS business understanding from financial stability to operational measurability to recurring revenue predictability. These stages define a SaaS Metrics Maturity Model that provides a SaaS metrics roadmap along with benchmarks at each stage of development. Source: Chatroic Flow.

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These are the 4 stages he defined in this progression:

SaaS Metrics Maturity Model Stage 1: SaaS Financial Metrics Mastery

In York’s first stage, use of these metrics needs to become the company standard. Sales is compensated on recurring revenue and avoids discounts based on total contract value. Marketing makes demand generation plans around revenue, upsell and acquisition cost targets. Customer success focuses on churn reduction. And, executive compensation is based on non-GAAP SaaS financial goals.

SaaS Metrics Maturity Model Stage 2: Reactive Customer Success with Customer Success Metrics

In his second stage, customer success and the information available about product usage data needs to be complemented by customer demographics, transaction history, engagement tracking and primary customer research such as surveys and focus groups. It starts to delve into statistical methods and descriptive models to better understand the root causes of churn, upsell, trial conversion, purchase and onboarding. These models produce customer success KPIs and benchmarks than uncover operational opportunities for improving SaaS customer success.

SaaS Metrics Maturity Model Stage 3: Proactive SaaS Customer Success with Predictive Analytics

In his third stage, the metrics-driven SaaS business becomes the master of the SaaS metrics domain, moving from art to science. The SaaS customer success metrics discovered in stage 2 becomes the standard KPIs that are used to construct predictive analytics. These predictive models help you get out in front of churn and acquisition in a systematic way.

SaaS Metrics Maturity Model Stage 4: The Recurring Revenue Machine

In the last stage of his model, you will have a full circle understanding of the drivers of SaaS financial success. Your financial goals are positively correlated to operational goals when using SaaS customer success metrics and predictive analytics. To develop an optimal growth plan, it should be based on explicit improvement programs with well understood impacts on trial conversion, purchase churn, and the efficiency of sales and customer success representatives.

While finance and customer success are two departments that typically have very little to do with each other, both departments must have an integrated management approach to achieve optimal success in stage 4. This is imperative because it associates continuous operations improvement with financial goals through SaaS customer success metrics. This stage will continuously generate revenue if done correctly.

His full piece is worth a read for those interested in optimizing the SaaS model: http://chaotic-flow.com/the-saas-metrics-maturity-model/ .

Microsoft Corporation Becomes the Second-Largest Cloud Services Provider

June 5th, 2014

It’s official: Microsoft is now the second-largest cloud services provider after Amazon, pulling away from the chasing pack that included Google, IBM and salesforce.com. In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, Microsoft had a blistering 154% year-over-year growth. The company’s cloud services consist of IaaS, PaaS and its hybrid cloud.

According to Synergy Research Group, Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure grew almost 2.3 times faster than Amazon Web Services (AWS), which recorded 67% growth. IBM’s cloud service recorded the second-fastest growth with 80%, Google was fourth with 60%, while Salesforce’s cloud grew 37%.

Click on the image below to increase the size.

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With the drastic price cuts, Microsoft is now in an excellent position to challenge AWS’ leadership in cloud services. Although Microsoft’s cloud is still less than one-third the size of AWS, it would take only 6-7 years to catch up, in terms of size, assuming that it grows at a rate of 80% for the next 7 years and AWS grows at only 50%. Faster growth for Microsoft’s cloud could cut that time to as little as 4-5 years.

Overall, the cloud market is growing rapidly, with the market leaders recording robust growth in their respective services. Microsoft’s cloud is growing at a blistering pace, and has catapulted the company to the second position behind Amazon.

Click here to read the original article.

Cloud Infographic: Cloud and the Medical Field

May 22nd, 2014

Click on the image to expand it.

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To view the original article, click here.

Available Now: The Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 2.0

May 9th, 2014

Microsoft released the Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) 2.0, a supported, freely available solution for converting VMware-based virtual machines and virtual disks to Hyper-V-based virtual machines and virtual hard disks (VHDs).icon Cloud door digital

You now have access to many updated features including:

  • Added support for vCenter & ESX(i) 5.5
  • VMware virtual hardware version 4 – 10 support
  • Linux Guest OS migration support including CentOS, Debian, Oracle, Red Hat Enterprise, SuSE enterprise and Ubuntu.

Also, two great new features including:

  • On-Premises VM to Azure VM conversion: You can now migrate your VMware virtual machines straight to Azure. Ease your migration process and take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure with a simple wizard driven experience.
  • PowerShell interface for scripting and automation support: Automate your migration via workflow tools including System Center Orchestrator and more. Hook MVMC 2.0 into greater processes including candidate identification and migration activities.

To learn more, click here.