Those four ways are information as science, in other words, leveraging information and information technology to complement improvements to core physical operations to provide a variety of benefits. Those could be faster processes, less expensive processes, more agile processes, more flexible, more standard, more sustainable, higher quality processes, whatever you want to do with these technologies. Thus, the first thing is information excellence.
A good example of that is real time core logistics or any other complex optimization process like traffic management within a city or assigning parking spaces. The point is you want to collect a lot of data from things. You want to bring it up into the Cloud, run sophisticated algorithms around that, and then take immediate action to help you achieve that degree of optimization.
The second major strategic evolution that Joe Weinman sees is from what used to be stand-alone products or decoupled services, now connecting those back to the Cloud. Both products and services can be connected back to the Cloud because after all services have some physical embodiment that helps implement them. If the service is a car wash, that can be tied back to the Cloud. If the service is entertainment, those devices can be tied back to the Cloud. If it is a movie theater or entertainment service, if it is a medical service or a health care service, those devices can be tied back to the Cloud.
The basic point there is that tying all that together means that you can grab lots of data from sensors, you can run it up into the Cloud, you can now better do things like tie that individual's product back to the social networks. A good example of that is something like the Nike athletic shoe where you are collecting data on the race that you just ran or the individual acceleration. You can basically upload that to the network and from that do things like figuring out personal bests. You can actually compete with other people. They may be located anywhere else in the world.
We are moving into an era where cars are connected vehicles, where cities become connected, where everything is connected, and that leads to lots of opportunities for strategic differentiation.
The third major point is the evolution of customer intimacy to something that Joe Weinman calls collective intimacy. In the old days, you basically had an intimate relationship with a particular customer, a separate relationship with a different customer, a separate relationship with a third customer, and there was a firewall between those individual relationships. Now, the idea is that you can take all that data collectively and better understand how to service each customer individually.
An example might be entertainment where Netflix is a good example of better movie recommendations, be able to do up-sell and cross-sell. The Amazon.com model is based on everyone's individual purchases and how those can evolve. Another example is personalized health care or personalized medicine where you can do patient-specific therapies based on pharmaceutical efficacy and genetic data to better tailor a treatment to everyone.
The last major area is accelerating innovation where things like Cloud-enables contests or challenges like Edison Nation, can really enlist a broad variety of research personnel from around the world, using so-called contest economics, in other words, you are paying for results and only the best result as opposed to paying for people to come to work and hopefully try and solve something.
There are lots of opportunities to leverage the Cloud strategically. If you think about all the developments in technology, these things are only going to get more impressive. For example, high performance computing, cognitive computing, cognitive computing as a service, quantum computing, quantum computing as a service - D-Wave Systems has announced that they are going to take their quantum computer and sell it out as a service - this means that we will have access to immense computing power to solve a lot of challenges which can help accelerate innovation and make it faster, cheaper and better.
Also, it can be used for things like predictive analytics, for so-called solution leadership. In other words, these products and services can be tied back into the Cloud.
The bottom line is we are about to enter into an era where it is not so much anymore about whether the Cloud is real or about how to migrate virtual servers, or whether OpenStack is better or worse than Amazon Web Services. All those things are interesting and there is a lot of technology evolution - which is great - but really the point is that IT has gone from merely being about cost reduction or task automation into something that can be strategic.
The four generic strategies that Joe Weinman has identified can be used by companies to achieve competitive advantage in their industries.