Ever experience déjà vu? The more I watch the Cloud evolve, the more I think it’s déjà vu all over again. The on-premise to Cloud software revolution is the Internet all over again.

I was one of the early birds in Internet services. Executives from “old economy” companies in nearly every industry struggled to embrace the tectonic shift implied by a move to IP and the Internet. It was too disruptive, too different, too frightening. So they waited, hoping it was a fad that would soon fade.

But it didn’t. You and I know the ending to the story.

The companies that paid little attention to the evolution occurring outside their office buildings became irrelevant. Many businesses that had been around for a hundred years and had endured many transitions didn’t survive this one. They became business examples of #extinct, #fail.

Finding the right Internet strategy in 1997 was hard. Nothing was obvious unless you had built your company from the ground up as an Internet business. For established companies it took a willingness to innovate and to take risk.

And, those companies that were willing to navigate the Internet disruption, not only survived – they also transformed. The Internet became an integral part of their business, marketing, sales, development and distribution strategies. It opened new doors to new customers and new revenue streams. It was absolutely disruptive to traditional business models, and many struggled. But those that got in early, learned and iterated as the market grew, and typically profited in the end.

The Cloud elicits that same euphoria in some and fear in others. It promises the same disruption. And like the Internet, it won’t be confined to a few industries. It will sweep through nearly every industry. It will remake the business landscape. Successful companies may struggle to transform, and some won’t make it. Darwin’s theory of natural selection tells us that only the most adaptable survive, especially in times of change and turmoil.

How adaptable is your business? Are you embracing the cloud and developing strategies to use Cloud services as well as develop your own cloud offerings? Or is it safer and easier to think of it as a fad that will hopefully fade?

Just like during the Internet days, companies that successfully navigate the change will probably do so by looking within and innovating around their core business. Ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Where in your business do you already have a recurring revenue stream? The core competency of cloud companies is to maximise recurring revenue. If you have one today this is a great place to start! Run your renewals like business, just as SaaS company would do. Develop the necessary systems and processes to profit from your installed base.
  • Where in your business can you turn something people already buy from you, or would like to buy, into a subscription? Try a small pilot project and learn through iteration with your early adopters.
  • Where can you augment what you already do with a new offering that gives additional information, insight, value, or capability? SaaS systems automate and analyse existing business processes, giving greater insight into the business, the customers, and their behaviours. Where could this apply in your business?
  • Where can you buy cloud services today to replace more costly, less agile systems that you have developed in house? Can the switch to SaaS within your business deliver greater agility, savings, productivity, or innovation? If so, this can become fuel for the transformation elsewhere.

The point is to begin. To learn. To embrace, not ignore.