It’s Late – Lessons in the Cloud

It’s back in the middle of a sultry summer night deep in the South. Outside the temperature hasn’t dropped below 79 and it’s 2 AM. The ceiling fan whirs above me and as I fumble for the clock, awake and mind racing.

You see, I’m a Product Marketing Manager in the deployment phase and for some reason I can’t sleep. Unbelievable, I know. I’ve watched with fascination as each group comes together in order to make my product a success. We’ve done the due diligence, we’ve followed every process that has been thrown at us, and even completed a successful beta program. No show stoppers have surfaced, which doesn’t mean we’re in the clear but we’ve come a long way.

Why am I so nervous now at 2 AM? Sure, my reputation is on the line. My Director and I have extended the neck of the Cloud to be hugged or removed. That’s not so bad! We’ve got a great product and people are excited when they see it.

But the Cloud only cares about those who succeed. It doesn’t look back at the past. Living in the past can kill a product line and nothing makes this point like the Cloud and the current state of the PC.

Those who ignore the past…

The Cloud is an evolution of the old managed services model. It improves upon it, streamlines it, and eliminates many of the previous steps required to launch a new product. It can immediately reduce up front costs while increasing flexibility and shortening the launch window.

But selling it is hard!

The Cloud can generate complex presentations, spin up entertaining demos, but it too often resists that One-Slide Solution. Marketing must be patient and help others understand that what seems more like so much marketing is, in fact, a coherent message. The Cloud is changing the way we think about consuming services online by telling us to stop thinking about the “small stuff.”

The evolution of the OS and the PC is similar. The nascent trend toward the smartphone or tablet was not obvious, but a Marketing Manager must make change seem as natural as growing from high school to adult life.

With the release of the newest test version of Windows 8, we see the shift from the classic OS model to the controlled mobile platform. This trend toward the multi-purpose smartphone seems laughable. Why would anyone trade their trusty video crunching, photo cropping, music churning, document cranking workhorse for a light weight pseudo-PC? How could one company convince the world to buy an obviously “inferior” product? It doesn’t make sense and yet Microsoft announced an App Store to go along with Windows 8, locked down application parameters, and put a skin over Windows that’s nothing short of Windows Phone 7. What ever happened to “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it?”

I’ll tell you what happened; people got tired of dealing with their computers in the same way CTOs and IT Directors got tired of dealing with server farms and co-location facilities. Apple came along and told them it was okay simply to use their device, not spend time making changes so an application will function. Apple wants you to make a phone call or use an app, not spend hours configuring and fixing them. And Microsoft apparently agrees.

A or B (or C, D, or E)

Sometimes more choice isn’t always the best choice. We don’t always need or want the massive underpinnings of the modern OS. We need a satisfying experience that doesn’t endanger us or our data, but grants us access to timely information where and when we need it. Apple’s iOS is closed and regulated for sure. It’s also stable.

Microsoft is turning the big ship toward the same shore and Windows will prosper for it. Apple must continue to innovate as Microsoft appears in their rearview mirror. Neither can afford to veer back toward the Old Country without ceding innovation to the other. They must have a bold vision and a bold product. What comes next is obvious; they have to sell it.

You know what else I have learned? Selling it will keep you up at night.

What do you think? Is Microsoft overtaking Apple in innovation?  How does Windows 8 stack up to Apple’s iOS? What do you think the market will say? We look forward to your comments.
Jeff Morgan Lead Product Marketing Manager AT&T About Jeff