I like TechWorld’s article on how Mo’s Mobiles, is using Google Apps to bypass the IT department — not that I have anything against the IT department, nor Microsoft for that matter. It’s just a good account of the business thinking of the owner Tim Levy and how he ended up at Google Apps.
The article is well written, and I can’t add to it. What grabbed me about it is that it is a real demonstration of the business and competitive benefits of cloud computing. This is despite the fact it hardly uses cloud in the real sense, it just relates to the vernacular sense of “using hotmail” or in this case Google mail, plus the web app store.
I’m still surprised by the amount of resistance to even thinking about the cloud, across a wide range of businesses. It seems so easy to say “I want my data in Australia/Melbourne/under my staircase/whatever” and that effectively ends the conversation. I’m not an evangelist, nor a technology geek. I don’t really care if people change or not, and if old technology is fit-for-purpose then that’s fine.
My only response is in respect to competition. I say something like “well you’ll do fine just as long as your competition or your customers don’t figure out how to use this cloud stuff to make life very uncomfortable for you. And my bet is they will, not sure when, but there is the real potential. But if they don’t then you’ll have made the right decision to have not wasted any effort on considering the possibilities”.
Mo’s Mobiles is all about these business benefits, and Tim Levy mentions several:
- Agility: “I find small and medium businesses run their businesses faster than their IT department can catch up. It’s such a bottleneck, and businesses like Google that really get the Cloud allow people like me to add functionality to their business.”
- (Now standardised on Google Apps), Levy said his stores have improved retail execution by 30%, thanks to better information flow and workflow automation.
- (They have also made use of third-party applications such as FormAssembly via the Google Apps Marketplace to help control transactions and monitor performance.) “We built it in two days”, Levy said. “It costs us $200 a month for all our stores to use and we have full visibility – we are able to make third parties accountable for doing things for us.”
I think that these are impressive competitive gains, in a company with a zero-IT department. Think of it, agility, operational excellence, and reduced information gathering and compliance costs.
I also very much liked the honest appraisal of the Microsoft option
“We played around for a good three to six months,” Levy said. “To be honest, the Microsoft products were, in terms of ease of use at the time, probably ahead. Our staff were more comfortable using Microsoft Office and more familiar with it. But the Google platform had the breadth of functionality and search was fundamental; unless staff can find information quickly, it’s hopeless.”
All up, an inspiring article about the potential power of where cloud computing can take a small distributed business in a hurry.
What’s your best small business cloud story?
What’s your best cloud story relating to bringing competitive pressure into a segment?