I had a series of tweets pop up on my screen today linking a vendor response to my blog about IT management understanding the value of the personnel potentially lost with a move to cloud computing. Like a number of folks that responded to the initial blog, I believe this cloud services vendor missed my point.
I never said there was no competitive business advantage for a move to cloud services. The question I asked, which is in the context of the blog entry, is how do you use technology to gain a competitive advantage, one of the goals of a good internal IT department, once you no longer have that IT intellectual capital within your company? Once you've moved the need to have those IT people on-staff, those who really understand the way your business can integrate with potential IT advances, how do you effectively leverage those advances to fit your specific business model?
The Claris blog compares the adoption of cloud computing to the adoption of electric power, and I think that is way off base. The concept of "utility computing" may, on the surface, bring to mind the utilities on a Monopoly board, but the reality is that the companies that can creatively integrate IT processes that include cloud computing will be more successful, in the long run, than those that simply treat them like the electric company. Cloud service vendors are in business to make money, and if they are able to work with your business to find an innovative way to use their services, it's in their best interest to offer that technique to their other customers. Leveling the playing field sounds good at the EEOC, but it's not likely something your business wants to do with your competitors.
In the short term, there may be a business advantage in being able to lower costs and add capabilities via cloud computing and managed service providers, but in the long term my basic question still stands. How do you maintain that intellectual capital that enables the effective utilization of information technology, especially if you outsource IT and treat it like the electric bill?