Gartner’s latest batch of Magic Quadrants chart the growing domination of today’s cloud superpowers (AWS, Microsoft, Google and IBM). According to Synergy Research, these cloud giants accounted for 54% of all cloud deployments in 2015, and will have grown significantly since then. Beneath them sits a layer of large challengers, hoovering-up much of the remainder of the market.
The growing maturity of the cloud market means it’s harder than ever for smaller players to compete. As large enterprises become more comfortable with the public cloud, the ability to differentiate on infrastructure or price is rapidly dwindling for smaller players. Many in the industry believe the small end of the IaaS industry will shrink as the big firms take more market share.
However, while some providers will undoubtedly shut up shop, many are well-placed to transform their offerings for the new cloud landscape. This often means partnering with the big guys, and building value on top of their world-class platforms. The most obvious opportunities for these smaller players are:
- Managed services: helping organisations deal with complicated deployments, such as hybrid or multi-cloud setups.
- Consulting: Helping organisations roadmap their cloud journeys and drive competitive advantage in a world where everyone has the same tools.
- Development: Building things on and in the cloud in order to drive competitive advantage, new value and innovation.
As businesses work to reshape their offerings and remain relevant, they face both business model and marketing challenges. Here are three of the most important things for smaller players to consider during this time:
- Positioning effectively: The shift to added-value services necessitates a similar change in how organisations market and differentiate themselves. This means focusing less on product (what you do) and more on the calibre of your thinking (what you enable).
- Unlocking intelligence: With storage and processing taken care of, it’s what you do with it that counts, this means that compelling ideas will be valued above all else. Organisations must put their collective intelligence to work, developing great ideas and using them - via thoughtful, attention-grabbing content - to inspire potential customers about the potential of the cloud.
- Retaining customers: When you’re operating as a middleman between the end customer and a big cloud provider, it’s much easier for customers to move around. To counteract this, it’s important to maintain a strong public profile and demonstrate to customers that you have their future in hand. Building this kind of profile give customers comfort that they are with the right partner and should prevent itchy feet.
- Driving business: The move from providing cloud to building in it, and advising on it, also leads to different revenue models and a change in how companies generate new business. For example, a greater onus on pipeline development, customer retention and driving repeat and additional business from existing customers, is a necessity. To do this organisations should focus on creating business-level conversations through stand-out ideas and great content.