Debunking the Cloud as “Women’s Fashion”


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Fashion: just a folly? Photograph from Tumble Fish Studio.

Cloud computing and cloud CRM are generating a lot of excitement and buzz these days, leading of course to the inevitable backlash. Having lived and worked through many technology cycles—minicomputer to PC, PC to client/server, client/server to Internet, to virtualization, to the cloud—I find it quite amusing to hear the same old arguments get recycled, again and again, to trash whichever new idea comes along.

One frequent line of attack is that “there’s nothing new in information technology.” To wit, one oft-heard attack has been that cloud computing is nothing more than time-sharing on the old mainframes, now applied to the Internet. With his characteristic punctiliousness, of course Oracle’s Larry Ellison pushed the related cloud criticism even further, saying:

The computer industry is the only industry that’s more fashion-driven than women’s fashion.

Larry’s implication: Fashion is random, devoid of meaning and ultimately very shallow. But this perspective is unfair to both fashion designers and IT professionals. More importantly, it’s also misguided.

Cloud Computing: The New Black?

Perhaps the best rejoinder to Larry’s observation is the song “Fashion,” by David Bowie:

It’s big and it’s bland
Full tension and fear
They do it over there
But we don’t do it here

This “us versus them” mentality, so often present when someone comments on fashion or the fashionable, often dismisses what’s new as being shallow, random or fleeting.

But fashion is an immensely powerful tool, not just in the technology sphere, but for arguably the most powerful imperative of all: propagation. Cue male peacocks with their elaborate feather displays, all trying to dominate by outdoing each other and luring mates.

We Followers of Fashion

Same again on the human front: Why have millions of people purchased an iPhone or a sport utility vehicle, instead of less expensive and still quite utilitarian alternatives?

Not just for show. Photograph by frielp.

One answer is because it’s fashionable—as in, a psychosexual vehicle for flaunting status, wealth, or yes, perhaps even promoting one’s procreative potential. No wonder that fashion changes all of the time. It’s our arms race, as a frenzy of people—or peacocks, for that matter—each try to outdo each other.

The cloud, too, is fashionable. But it’s also the newest technique that businesses can use to exert some advantage over their rivals, by helping them gain new economies of scale, innovate more quickly and better focus on the core activities that make them more competitive.

For example, say Experian uses the cloud to gain an advantage over a competitor, such as Equifax. In short order, Equifax will respond by also adapting cloud-based capabilities, thus nullifying Experian’s temporary advantage. Meanwhile, both will continue hunting for the next competitive edge. This cycle involves investing some money, testing new technologies, driving innovation, seeing others catch up, and then repeating the cycle. Altogether, it looks like fashion, because it is.

That’s not a bad thing. In life, as in technology, fashion can be fleeting, seem random or appear immaterial. But this cycle is far from irrelevant. Fashion is about how we live, work and play. From a species standpoint, this urge to embrace fashion—and to outdo everyone else—is likely hard-wired into our brains. Why denigrate it? It’s who we are, and part of what makes life worth living. Instead, embrace it. Because fashion matters.

Learn More

Cloud CRM is increasingly suited to the needs of many organizations, including large enterprises. But if you’re not yet sold on SaaS, see our white paper on choosing between on-premise and SaaS. Or to learn which SaaS CRM application is best, read our CRM Smackdown.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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