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The turn of the year brings the inevitable introspections, resolutions, etc. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolution? Plan to lose weight, get fit, etc.? What have you resolved about your business strategy in this coming year?

Last year, 2015, had some very interesting “pivots” in a variety of industries. Let’s explore a short exercise to get your 2016 strategy thoughts flowing and surface some insights. Ask yourself, where would you and your enterprise like to be?

Would you like to be? Or, would you like to be?
Airbnb Marriott
Netflix Comcast Wal-Mart
AWS (Amazon Web Services) HP
Uber NYC Taxi Medallion Owner

Airbnb is taking market share from business hotels in the top US cities where it operates. Netflix soars to financial and critical acclaim while Comcast is loathed for its customer service and patrons increasingly “cut the cord”. Amazon’s holiday season exceeds expectations and it stock price doubles but Wal-Mart acknowledges shrinking revenue and higher costs.We live in an amazing time where the corporate behemoths and ways of doing things that straddled our economy just a handful of years ago are being knocked back on their heels.

In 2015, Amazon actually got a “two-fer”. In addition to its record retail operations, its cloud services progeny – Amazon Web Services (AWS) – revealed it is a super power in information technology. At the same time, we sadly watch the continuing demise of a once proud company as HP quit offering cloud and split into two. And Uber – what more can be said about Uber’s phenomenal rise? When was the last time you took a taxi? My money is on: “Only when Uber was not available”.

The companies in the first column have re-envisioned the rendering of services provided by the firms on the right. What is common to all of these up-and-comers? It is their embrace of cloud computing. This has enabled them to race ahead with the implementation of their concepts with more speed and agility but at lower cost than the old incumbents.

These are just a representative handful. There are lots more new entrants like Pinterest, Cousera, and Instacart that are leveraging the same approach. More importantly are the significant moves of established companies like Capital One, General Electric and Conde Nast who are adopting the cloud with a vengeance. Sure, the new hard chargers started with clean slates but what about the big boys of finance, industry and media? What do they know?

Take a page from all their books. If your organization has not embraced cloud computing for its future – stop and think. No one is asking you to move that the vast legacy of information technology that you have into the cloud, this year. But where are you implementing your new stuff? If you are not doing it in the cloud, the odds are you are digging yourself a deeper hole that may be difficult if not impossible to get out of in the future.

And what about your talent? Are you bringing in cloud savvy staff and executives? If you don’t have their abilities and insights, you know the odds are you will continue to do what worked in the past – not the future. At the very least, get some cloud-minded advisors to help get you going.

In “The End of Competitive Advantage” Professor Rita Gunther McGrath identified that the only organizations that performed well over the long-term, let alone survived, were those that took actions that gave them flexibility in choosing outcomes. They embraced the new and experimented in ways that provided low cost if unsuccessful, but high returns when it turned out to be a winner. Cloud enables just that kind of action. Resolve to make 2016 your year to embrace cloud.

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