Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, John Basso, SmartBear Blog, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Entrepreneurship and the Enablement Economy

At its best, the Software-as-a-Service model is about enabling the success of customers

When focusing on one element of a SaaS provider to evaluate, it should not be the technology it is providing today but its commitment to finding new ways to succeed in the future. This kind of agility that goes beyond technology is why SaaS is so loaded with potential for entrepreneurs.

With the barriers to entering the communications market nearly eliminated, this next wave of entrepreneurs have an opportunity to focus on enabling the success of their customers through sourcing, developing and delivering the technologies they need. It is a mindset shift that is critical to leveraging the cloud delivery model to its fullest potential. This is about not just delivering features or functionalities, but helping customers to shape agile, efficient and successful businesses.

Engage, Educate, Enable, Succeed
The most exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs in the cloud is to use the flexibility it offers to co-create, refine and evolve new enterprise services. A SaaS provider has the freedom to change the services it offers with input from across the value chain, as long as they remain focused on the core aspect of their business where they add value: enablement. Whether they offer supply chain management software through to cloud communications, the service is a tool for their enterprise customers to drive efficiency, grow and increase profitability.

Services have been decoupled from infrastructure and that means more freedom to explore new ideas, innovations and business models. It also means sellers and buyers can have a greater influence on one another. An innovative SaaS provider can influence what their customers sell and how they sell while creating a feedback loop that sees services evolve rapidly to meet customer needs.

The relationship between the buyer and seller begins with outlining the business objectives of the customer and it's up to the SaaS provider to shape a service offering that will enable the customer to succeed. This takes a consultancy-based sale and evolves it into an ecosystem that extends beyond the point of sale.

At its most advanced, the SaaS provider can work with customers to co-create and develop the services that will ultimately help meet their business objectives. That is the goal. Not delivering a new technology but clearly having impact within the customer's business and measuring the results of the engagement. When business and IT become aligned, the SaaS provider has to become increasingly adept at using their service platform to influence their customer's businesses.

It also works the other way. SaaS providers learn from customers and at the same time play a role in educating their customers to ensure that they are using the services effectively or, in the case of the channel, are skilled in selling the new services being provided. If it will help the customer to achieve its goals, the SaaS provider can educate its customers' sales staff and arm them with new skills to take these services to market. In this way, enablement means extending the relationship to include not just learning from customers but guaranteeing the success of the operation through education and sharing experience and expertise.

Entrepreneurs in Enablement
The opportunity for entrepreneurs is in creating businesses focused on shared value that evolves the enterprise IT channel model to best use the characteristics of the cloud. This is about focusing less on shifting units or seats and more on creating sustainable and profitable businesses dedicated to helping customers transform their operations and increase profitability.

Why would an entrepreneur be interested in this space? SaaS businesses that are focused on enablement have an advantage over competitors and deliver unique advantages. The closeness that they develop with their customers gives them high rates of customer retention and stickiness as well as a rapid path to differentiation.

Technologies and services will always change but if the business is dedicated to finding new ways to serve customers and evolve their offering then they will always be relevant. If a service provider anticipates emerging customer demand combined with listening and reacting to customer feedback, these customers don't need to look elsewhere for new services. Price comparison also is not central to decision making, ensuring that they do not compete on price but rather on the quality of the service they offer and the real business results they enable for customers.

Similarly, they are able to differentiate their offerings in the long term with more customers feeding into their service creation and refinement, making it easy to anticipate the needs of new customers. This in turn helps them to win more business.

By focusing on using cloud services to enable the success of customers, they create an ecosystem where customers get better services based on feedback and development while new customers become easier to obtain because their needs can be anticipated. Costs of sale are mitigated by long-term relationships, which increase profitability, and the business is able to tap recurring revenue streams.

While this might not appear as exciting as the success stories from the consumer communications market like WhatsApp, focusing on enablement builds dynamic businesses that are flexible and largely future-proof. The model works hard for both the buyer and the seller.

An Evolution
The cloud is ready to enter a new phase of its evolution where the technology is understood and the advantages are leveraged to build a healthy value chain. Entrepreneurs who recognize the opportunity to building businesses around enablement will have a lasting impact on their customers and the market.

SaaS has demonstrated how service development and management can sit outside of a business but that's only the first step. Thinking bigger about how enterprises are served and matching technology to business results is an exciting and logical progression. It will open new doors for both SaaS providers and customers to grow together and intertwine a value chain that has previously run from A to B from the provider to the customer.

The future IT and communications services delivered via the cloud will be shaped by the entrepreneurs that go beyond just the technology and look at how the relationship can develop. Enterprise customers simply want better solutions to meet their needs and are ready to work with providers that have a new approach dedicated to their success.

More Stories By Alan Rihm

Alan Rihm is CEO, managing Partner, and a member of the CoreDial, LLC board. He sets strategic direction for the company, and works closely with the board and management team to fulfill on the team’s commitment to its “hedgehog strategy” (see Jim Collins book ‘Good to Great’ for more on this concept).

Alan organized the spin-off and formation of CoreDial, and joined the company as CEO in 2005. He has been instrumental in establishing the company as one of the leading services delivery platforms for private label cloud communications. Under his leadership the company has experienced tremendous revenue and channel partner growth, as well as industry leading sales and operational key metrics.

Alan has been a successful entrepreneur in the Philadelphia region since 1995, and has a deep background in guiding software and service companies to critical mass and profitability. He is a graduate of Drexel University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
ReadyTalk has expanded the capabilities of the FoxDen collaboration platform announced late last year to include FoxDen Connect, an in-room video collaboration experience that launches with a single touch. With FoxDen Connect, users can now not only engage in HD video conferencing between iOS and Android mobile devices or Chrome browsers, but also set up in-person meeting rooms for video interactions. A host’s mobile device automatically recognizes the presence of a meeting room via beacon tech...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
On Dice.com, the number of job postings asking for skill in Amazon Web Services increased 76 percent between June 2015 and June 2016. Salesforce.com saw its own skill mentions increase 37 percent, while DevOps and Cloud rose 35 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Even as they expand their presence in the cloud, companies are also looking for tech professionals who can manage projects, crunch data, and figure out how to make systems run more autonomously. Mentions of ‘data science’ as a skill ...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...