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商业 - 科技

云计算是终级颠覆性创新吗?

Aaron Levie 2011年10月08日

Box.net的CEO和共同创始人阿隆•列维认为,云计算在企业IT生态系统内引发了一场重大的价值转变。

    这些新方法和颠覆性的市场策略可以使新兴的企业软件公司以极快的速度进行扩张,速度之快以前只在消费科技领域出现过。20年前,计算领域的上一波浪潮成就了SAP、微软和甲骨文今日的霸主地位。而今天,我们也将看到许多新兴公司崛起成为顶尖的软件厂商。与此同时,整个信息科技领域的格局也将因此改变。

企业IT生态系统的价值变迁

    现在许多人都在问,云计算究竟会给IT功能和服务行业的未来带来什么?当应用和基础架构可以通过云端交付时,系统集成商、行业伙伴和IT专业人士又将何去何从?云计算的交付模式是由厂商直接向顾客交付,那么所谓的“中间人”还有生存的空间吗?

    我认为对于当前系统集成商的可持续创新来说,仍然存在着“中间人”的生存空间,但是却需要出现很多变革。业务模式仍和过去大同小异,但是IT执行的重要性和它所提供的实际价值却大大提高了。企业不必再雇佣“专家”去打理一切,装配服务器、把各种线缆插到机箱里,以及集成系统、部署应用等等无所不包,未来的IT是要为更高级的问题提供支持。用埃森哲(Accenture)公司高级主管凯文•坎贝尔的话说:“(云计算)为IT部门提供了集中精神创造商业价值的机会。)过去,数量繁多的系统往往还没有集成成功,客户的预算就花光了,更不用说利用企业的软件和系统去创造令人感兴趣的价值了。

    这样一来,IT专家可以花更少的时间从事IT基础策略的实施和维护,最终为企业业务流程的“核心”部分贡献更多的价值。IT部门不必再在低效用的工作上浪费时间和精力,比如管理数据、运行电子邮件服务器、安装CRM软件等,而是在更举足轻重的业务领域投入更多的时间。例如潘朵拉公司(Pandora)的IT团队就从基础的IT作业中解放出来,集中精力整合应用,为公司员工创造更好的价值、更快的速度和更高的灵活性。而在Dole公司,员工可以随时随地从个人的iPad上下载重要信息。宝洁(P&G)的IT团队奉行以创新为中心,向世界各地的宝洁团队提供云端服务,使他们可以随时随地更高效地工作,安全地与其他团队进行联系。

    得益于这些变革,客户也将开始体验到一种更加动态、更加民主的软件环境。软件公司不得不更频繁地对解决方案进行更新,给所有客户企业带来更好的业绩。工作的完成速度会加快,人们也会从技术中获得更多的价值。另外随着云技术的广度、多样性和覆盖范围的不断扩大,整个行业生态系统也会发展壮大。

    在信息技术这样一个不断激荡碰撞、推陈出新的市场上,微软和甲骨文的领袖地位居然能保持这么久,不免让人感到惊叹。不过再次提醒大家,在过去25年里,世界从来没有像今天这样日新月异。变革勿庸置疑。各种平台正在迅速成熟,上一代的颠覆者已经成了守成者,他们现在必须做出决定,究竟是为未来计,果断打破自身的樊篱,还是墨守成规,任由新竞争者不断涌现。

    作者阿隆•列维是Box.net的CEO兼共同创始人。

    These new approaches and disruptive go-to-market techniques can get new enterprise software companies to scale at a speed only previously seen by technology aimed at consumers. Just like the last great wave in computing that occurred over two decades ago -- putting companies like SAP (SAP), Microsoft (MSFT), and Oracle in the leadership positions they hold today -- we are on course to see a new set of leading vendors. And along with this, the entire information technology landscape will change.

A value shift across the enterprise IT ecosystem

    Many of the questions around what a utility computing world will produce pertain to the future of the IT function and services industries. When applications and infrastructure are delivered over the cloud, where do the business models of system integrators, ecosystem partners, and IT professionals go? With a direct-to-customer model, is there room to be a middle-man?

    I believe this is in the category of sustaining innovations for the current system integration firms, but with a lot of change to come. The business model remains very similar, but the execution and actual value provided moves higher up in the stack. Instead of hiring "experts" to do everything – from putting together servers, plugging cables into boxes, all the way to integrating and deploying applications – IT of the future will begin to support higher order problems. In the words of Accenture (ACN) senior executive Kevin Campbell, "[Cloud] provides the opportunity for the IT department to focus on delivering business value." In the past, client budgets often ran out well before the successful integration of multiple systems, and long before a business could begin to truly build interesting value on top of the software and systems that they had in their business.

    This leads information technology experts to spend less time implementing and maintaining the basics of an IT strategy, and ultimately adding more value to the 'core' business processes of a company. Instead of working on the necessary but lower utility tasks like managing data, running email servers, and installing CRM software, IT teams and service firms can spend times in high leverage areas of the business. We're seeing this happen across industry and markets with our customers. At Pandora (P), its IT leads are freed up to integrate applications to produce better value, speed, and flexibility for their employees; at Dole, individuals can work from their iPads to pull down critical business information from anywhere; and at Procter & Gamble (PG), their innovation-centric IT group is delivering the cloud to teams across the world, enabling them to work more productively from anywhere, and connect with other groups, securely.

    Because of all this change, customers are going to begin to experience a much more dynamic and democratic software environment. Solutions will be forced to update to the latest trends more regularly, and this will drive better business results for all enterprises. Work will be done faster, people will get more value from their technology, and the ecosystem will even grow as a result of the breadth, diversity, and reach of technologies availble.

    In a market as continually churning and revolving as information technology, one can easily marvel at how Microsoft and Oracle have maintained leadership for so long. But then again, the world hadn't fully flipped over in the past twenty five years as much as it has today. Change is undeniably here, platforms are rapidly maturing, and now the disruptors of a previous generation must now decide whether they will disrupt themselves in the name of future relevance, or cling to old paradigms as new players emerge.

    --Aaron Levie is the CEO and co-founder of Box.net.

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