At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference keynote address in Orlando this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the cloud "the control plane that allows us to move from device to device," but it's actually more than the glue that keeps us connected. It also affords the opportunity to rethink our business processes.
And that may be the biggest value proposition of all.
Here's the thing. When you move to the cloud, whether you're an application developer creating a new enterprise app or an in-house IT department rethinking your tools in a cloud context, it gives you the chance to examine how you've done things and explore new ways of working that may make more sense in a cloud-mobile context.
Nadella seemed to understand this and he's hoping Microsoft can take advantage. Whether it can or not, remains to be seen, but Microsoft clearly has a new leader who sees the potential of a cloud-mobile future much more so than his predecessor Steve Ballmer ever did. He also sees that business is changing and customers are desperately looking for ways to reinvent themselves.
"All of our customers are being transformed by the power of digital technology and in particular software, and there isn’t a company out there that’s not a software company [today]," he said.
He outlined his ambitions to help customers in this new mobile-cloud world and it hinges on rethinking business processes. "Central to this ambition is reinvention of the category of business process and productivity. We don’t think of these as separate things [anymore]," he said.
All of this was being discussed against the backdrops of Microsoft's future vision, but it's not a coincidence that Nadella is bringing these things up this week at the point in the history of Microsoft. It is because he clearly recognizes that we need to rethink the way we do business.
Business process management
Every company has developed certain ways of doing business. There may be no real rhyme or reason for it beyond they were growing and looking for a way to control how things worked. A process developed out of neccessity and was never revisited.
That's where the cloud and mobile come in and why they can be so transformative for organizations. You don't have to simply port what came before and drop it in the cloud (or on mobile) unchanged. Every platform brings with it a new opportunity to design the application anew and change the way you do business.
Nadella also talked about building an intelligent cloud. If you take these comments outside of the theme of a pure Microsoft vision, you can begin to see that the cloud offers companies opportunities, regardless of who the vendor is—and that's really the point. You can look at how you do business and scrutinize every process.
Look at a simple example like an expense report. We've seen with tools like Expensify that we are not bound to using spreadsheets and paper receipts. We can take pictures, take advantage of the tools we have built into our phones, enter notes, add tags, and put it together to submit to your accounting department in a way that makes sense to everyone and changes a way of working.
That's what you can do when you begin to rethink processes. We've seen cloud companies reinvent whole categories by providing more streamlined ways of doing a business process. You would be crazy not to take advantage.
Photo Credit: opensource.com on Flickr. Used under CC by SA 2.0 license.