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Monday, March 1, 2010

The Cloud Flattens The World

The world really is becoming flat, to borrow from The New York Times writer Thomas Friedman. In his popular book, Friedman argues that the world is rapidly becoming flatter through the use of technology among other things. This is becoming even more evident as the advance of Cloud Computing enables the smallest emerging markets and even individuals to catch up and compete globally through their ability to tap the resource of the developed world easily and cost effectively.

Every time there is a major inflexion point in information technology, there is usually a corresponding change in competitive edge. With the arrival of Cloud Computing as a new type of IT platform, we’re about the see a significant narrowing of the IT competitive edge gap that could especially benefit companies in developing countries. In the same way the rise of mobile phone technology in Asia has enabled that region to leapfrog other countries, Cloud Computing has the potential to facilitate further advances in emerging countries, evening the playing field, creating new business models and fostering new levels of innovation.

In his blog post “How Did Cloud Computing Suddenly Become Important,” Simon Munro effectively explores the impacts of the Cloud and the potential with expanded access of information, services, products and capital throughout the world. He states that “cloud computing is destined to provide the architectural basis for new products offered by first world organizations to emerging markets. Products will be delivered via the Internet, but as emerging markets do not have first world infrastructure, so delivery will have to be done using mobiles, simple interfaces, low bandwidth and low latency. Also, due to such a high dependency on a mobile device and the low margins for each sale, the (possibly free) ecosystem needs to be social, viral and low cost in delivery and marketing terms.”

The reverse is true as well. Companies and individuals in emerging markets are rapidly gaining access to people, information and capital that once was exclusive to the developed world. Even access to capital in even the smallest amounts (imagine systems that provide, perhaps via a mobile device, microfinance funded by individuals in the United States and other wealthier nations) provides ample motivation for ideas in the emerging world. This will sponsor a new generation of innovation allowing small companies and small countries to compete globally.

For marketers, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities but also a host of challenges. Out of marketers famous 4 P’s, Place becomes a constant as the Cloud become’s the world’s bazaar of all manner of products and services, while Pricing, Product strategy, and Promotion will require a combination of simplicity, creativity and recognition of customers from all corners of the globe.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post, David.

    When it comes to technology related areas, this is clearly a very exciting development that will hopefully benefit millions (billions?) around the world in terms of access to education, communication, advocacy, quality of life, etc.

    Real progress for these countries will come when the technology advances we get excited about turn into or advance "real-world" services that keep them alive, healthy and thriving. If only the Cloud could also deliver critical life staples such as rice, soap, clean water, medicine and power (to name a few). Haven't heard that to be the case yet.

    So, there's still a need, and an opportunity, to greatly accelerate and facilitate development of such services in emerging nations. Let's hope that dream turns into a reality.

    Ted Simon
    Follow me on Twitter @tedlsimon

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