IBM versus Amazon – The Cloud War?

3384439545_72c4706549_mI just read Why IBM Will Win the War With Amazon Web Services over on and felt the need to publish my own thoughts.

In that article, the author writes the following regarding the IBM vs Amazon war:

IBM is gearing up for war. Since Amazon is mucking around in IBM’s space, the folks in Armonk should have the positional advantage. I focus here on IBM’s strengths compared to Amazon’s weaknesses largely because Amazon isn’t fundamentally an IT solutions provider. Rather, Amazon is a successful retailer that found a low-cost way to provide services through their retail model to IT. Typically, these efforts don’t survive; in the face of focused competition, they aren’t adjacent to the firm’s core business (retail, in Amazon’s case). IBM is honed in, once again, on proving this well tested theory.

The author is focused on the wrong thing. It appears he’s trying to set himself to be able to point back to this article in the future and claim he was ‘right”.  But…he has to be right for that to work. A better focus, at least in my opinion, would be to focus on what the IBM systems and solutions can do for organizations versus those offered by Amazon.

The ‘war’ between IBM and Amazon is one that will be interesting to watch, but means diddly-squat to the working IT professional.  Additionally, most organizations in the Small to Medium space can’t even begin to think about using IBM for anything they offer…they just don’t have the budget for IBM, or at least they don’t believe they do.

Rather than try to argue about how IBM will win (or why Amazon will win), I’ll simply say the following:

It doesn’t matter who ‘wins’ between IBM or Amazon because organization’s have already won.

Amazon has delivered a fast, efficient and scalable product that can be used by anyone.  You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to take advantage of the services and products available via Amazon.

If you are the CIO of a medium to large organization, maybe this ‘war’ means something to you, but for most other CIO’s and IT professionals, it means nothing.  These folks are rightly worried about keeping the lights on and delivering the services their organizations and customers need.

Regardless who wins this ‘war’, organization’s have already won.

Image Credit: Storm Clouds on Flickr

Don’t let the big (or small) words win – The New CIO Series

In the world of  technology we tend to use either really big words, really small words and/or acronyms.

What do you think of when you think of  ‘the cloud’ what do you think of?  Do you think about Amazon‘s EC2 or S3 or do you think about  “Parallel and Distributed Processing”?  Both could be right but neither are instructive to the ‘business’ user.  For that matter, is “the cloud” instructive to the business? Probably not.

The New CIO & Language

There’s a lot of talk in the business world about finding IT leaders who can speak to the business. I agree wholeheartedly…but I also think the business needs to learn to speak to the IT world too….but I’ve covered that in detail in a post titled Information Technology Leadership and Alignment. Moving on.

To help align business and IT, The New CIO needs to first look at the language of IT.  Get rid of the big words….and perhaps the small words if they aren’t clear enough.  Look at your IT group’s language to make sure acronyms and tech-jargon are purged from the external facing documentation and communication.  Take a long look at what you communicate to the organization and how you communicate to make sure you aren’t letting the tech-speak take over.

Want to really take it up a notch and make sure you’re communicating what the organization needs to hear? Bring in a marketer and a   communications person to build an IT marketing and communication plan for your team.  Your organization has marketing plans for how you’ll attack the market, why can’t you have one for how you’ll communicate to the rest of the organization?

Be careful though…you don’t want to get too far into business language or you’ll end up using the same marketing/business jargon that every other group within your organization uses.  Keep it simple and real and you’ll be fine.

Next time the CEO asks you “what’s this cloud computing thing I keep hearing about?”, how will you respond?  Big words or the right words?

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges. Join me next week for another article in the series.

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