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Salesforce Industries Summit

Capitalizing on the Cloud

By Jeffrey M. Kaplan
Mar 6, 2015 5:00 AM PT

I've been traversing North America keynoting a series of cloud events hosted by Oracle. At every stop of the roadshow my comments regarding the opportunity to transform traditional product businesses into powerful information services via cloud-based alternatives has generated the greatest interest among enterprise decision-makers and software developers alike.

Capitalizing on the Cloud

This idea is especially compelling in the context of the unprecedented opportunities being created by the rapidly evolving Internet of Things marketplace.

The reason why this idea is of so much interest to a growing number of corporate executives is that they are increasingly concerned about their traditional product businesses becoming commoditized and their entire industries being disrupted by a new generation of lower-cost, increasingly-connected replacements.

Opportunity Knocks

As this prospect becomes more of a reality, smart executives are looking for new business opportunities, revenue streams and ways to differentiate their companies.

These executives are recognizing that the cloud not only represents an opportunity to exchange their costly on-premise enterprise systems and software with more flexible, user-friendly, on-demand applications and computing power, but also gives them a method to economically connect to their products, collect data regarding their usage, and gain valuable insight from the information gathered.

This information can help them react more quickly as issues arise, anticipate problems before they occur, and fine-tune their products to better serve their customers. But, the information can also uncover or create entirely new business opportunities as well.

Let me give you a real-life example of how this is already happening.

En-Gauge Inc. is family-owned business based in Rockland, Massachusetts, which has been manufacturing pressure gauges for over forty years. These gauges are primarily used on safety devices like fire extinguishers and defibrillators. Since the company's inception, its products have evolved from mechanical gauges to digital gauges to a new generation of sensor-based and cloud-enabled gauges.

The latest versions of en-Gauge's products have opened a whole new market opportunity for the company. The new gauges can capture ongoing data regarding the use of the devices the gauges are attached to. This information can be used to ensure the devices are working properly, reduce inspection costs and ensure compliance with various industry regulations.

While all of these benefits are important, the company's CEO is especially excited about the new opportunity to harvest the data generated by his gauges and provide it to insurance companies and other third-parties that can use it to better package and price their insurance policies and other services.

By capturing and analyzing the data stream from the connected devices, en-Gauge can exponentially increase its revenue potential and improve its profitability via new information services in ways that wouldn't have been possible in its traditional product business.

Leveraging the Cloud

This product to information services transformation process would not have been possible without the connectivity, data capture and analytics capabilities permitted by the cloud.

Only a small number of forward-minded business executives see the opportunities created by the cloud in the IoT marketplace today. These enlightened executives are moving quickly gain a competitive advantage by capitalizing on these new opportunities.

However, in the not too distant future, delivering information services powered by connected products and enabled by the cloud will become a necessity to survive in nearly every industry, as customer demands for data-driven insights escalate.

Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace, and host of the Cloud Innovators Summit executive forum series. He can be reached at

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