There is one thing which makes cloud offerings appealing in general: these are impersonal social transactions.
Now, let me clarify this a bit: when somebody buys an IT software solution the usual way of doing this is by directly talking with the software development company (or a system integrator, somebody doing IT consulting.. etc). This means the buyer and the seller interact in a social manner (even though usually strictly professional 😉 ) and work their way through the finalization of the “project”. A simpler case is for out of the box products but there are seldom such things in the business solutions space.
Cloud changes this. Not by itself, but it can really take off once people on all sides start taking advantage of it.
Everybody says cloud solutions are ‘simple”, “easy”… and we quickly think about this as being “feature”-simple/easy. This is a bit true but a major incentive is the fact that the buyer can obtain its reward without any emotional involvement. He does not need to actually “talk” to some other person, he doesn’t need to explain itself to somebody. He simply clicks. This is where the lure of cloud is.
Of course, this does not mean the traditional way of selling software solutions will die. It’s exactly like when you’re going to the mall/supermarket vs. to your local corner shop. Both will coexist, each of them adapting to the market demands.
Now, if any of this is true, we will see vendors adapt to fit this consumer psychology. Maybe it’s not such a big surprise that Amazon is so successful in cloud now… isn’t it?
We need wholesalers and retailers for software solutions. Cloud providers are going to do this and software vendors will transform to meet their demand. But just as in the current physical goods economy, in cloud you’ll find some brands and a certain uniform quality while we will also have local shops with “limited series” products.
This will drive standardization, because you can’t have a supermarket unless you do have many similar products (comparable by some metrics understandable by the customer). And here lies a very big challenge, since in the business solutions area there are currently no pervasive standards, formal on informal. I believe the vendor struggle to be present in cloud with their business solutions (something which we will see more and more in the next year(s), together with the consumer behavior will generate these standards.
Clearly interesting times…