Cloud Exhaust or the New Oil?

What does shifting to as-a-Service really mean for your business? What does it take? And is the destination worth the journey?

In the past couple of years the adoption of cloud services has grown exponentially. In fact, more and more new businesses have their entire technology infrastructure delivered to them under an as-a-Service model. To coin a phrase, they were born in the cloud. These new businesses are embracing the speed and flexibility of cloud services to accelerate growth, gain a competitive advantage and deliver a responsive user experience at the front end of their propositions.

Large enterprise, however, is not quite there yet.

Despite the more frequent consumption model conversations around Board and C-suite tables, most have not yet reached their tipping point.

On one level the reluctance to push forward is understandable. The transition represents a daunting seismic shift for many traditional IT departments and the business understanding may mean that the need is not considered pressing. It takes vision and commitment to make the shift to aaS. And it requires an appreciation that the returns to be had from making that journey extend well beyond the doors to the computer room.

What’s the difference between moving to the cloud and shifting to a consumption model?

Moving to the cloud suggests a like-for-like replacement of hardware, platforms and products that you own with those owned by others that you rent as a service – basically, taking that technology capability, computing power, storage and functionality somewhere else for its feeding and watering.

Shifting to a consumption model is not just dropping existing assets into a pay-as-you-go subscription plan without making any other changes to the way you do business. It’s about taking advantage of the experience, capability, and enabling technologies available to “rethink” the way business is done and to drive business change faster and in ways that are more closely aligned to your changing customer and business imperatives.

Capturing the full benefits an as-a-Service model offers takes a change in mindset to focus on what the business aims to achieve and a determination to gear the organisation’s operations and capability with responsiveness as a top priority.

As-a-Service provides unprecedented opportunities to work smarter through more simplified, intelligent operations that are responsive to external forces of change. To realise these benefits requires first clearly defining the business outcomes you desire – describing the problem or opportunity to be addressed. That could be, for example, a more agile and flexible business, increased collaboration or transparency, or a more responsive customer experience.

So how do we change our way of thinking?

At the core of changing from traditional technology capability provision to a consumption model is a shift in attitude.

Consider the analogy of travel. To get from one place to another we need transport and there’s many options available. Owning your own car, using Uber on demand, or some of the many transportation options in between. Ask yourself, what’s my business case? Do I want to reduce costs, have more flexibility, or do I want some value add?

Owning a car is likened to a traditional on-premise scenario where you’ve made an initial up-front purchase and incur ongoing costs. You’ll have also probably factored in an upgrade in, say, five years. You can make changes to the car to suit your changing needs but it means additional expense and time, disruption and effort to get what you want when your changing situation demands it.

As-a-Service is like Uber. It’s scalable as you can call as many cars as you want, for as many passengers as you want, at any time you want and the journey can be as far as you want. It’s flexible as you can stop the trip anytime, or cancel it if your plans change. You only pay for the distance you travel so it’s pay-as- you-go. You’re not responsible for registration, maintenance, parking or petrol. You don’t have the initial cost of the car and you can choose any vehicle style you want to suit your needs, in the moment. And to top it off you no longer need that square meterage that used to house your car meaning you can re-purpose the garage to something more valuable for your lifestyle.

Taking such a holistic view is a big change in mindset but one that is warranted by the rewards on offer outside the IT department.


As-a-Service is maturing as a way of consuming technology. By lining up technology capability consumption more closely to the ebbs and flows of the business you do, you inherently shift the focus of your spend from the technology itself towards the changing behaviours and needs of your customers, and your responses to those in the form of your service propositions. In other words, towards a focus on driving business outcomes – results that matter for your organisation and your customers.

The increased agility, capability choices and cost-effectiveness to be gained by reshaping your operating model around as-a- Service will become too good for enterprises to ignore over the next few years. To reap the tangible rewards on offer will require big picture thinking, bold but considered action, and taking your business and your IT people on the journey with you.

As further background on the topic of consumption services, you might be interested in the following e-book: Boost your Agility, Capability and Cost Effectiveness – Travel Advice for your Journey into as-a-Service.


To discuss the topic further, please get in touch with the author, Michael Foley, on 021 777 684.


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