Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Saar Bitner, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Linux, Web 2.0, Big Data Journal

Cloud Expo: 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
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehe...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.