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Cloud Warrior & the Value of a Cup of Coffee

I recently visit Mumbai, which having grown up with “I Dream of Genie”, was Bombay to me. In the tourism boards own words, it’s a city of broad contrasts. To put this in perspective, there are people living in shanty’s covered in blue tarps within 50 yards of the Four Seasons Hotel. A less visual example, at a hotel meeting stop, I (and many others) paid 600rs. (around $13) for a cup of coffee. It was a great cup of coffee, but a day earlier I had one at the airport for 100rs. and a day before that I had one for 18rs. at my local spot in Chennai. At the extreme, that’s a 30x markup (?), for the most part, in return for an indistinguishable difference in beverage quality. I might even argue the 18rs. cup had more flavor (I drink it black without sugar). I know for sure the vendor of the 18rs. cup appreciated the tip more. For the most part, perceived quality, scarcity and lack of street knowledge put me in this situation.Being a cloud warrior as a direct result of being a road warrior, I’ve always been interested in this brand/quality association paradigm, and there are some great thought leaders in this arena (I’m not one of them). Factors include psychology, ambience, exclusivity, your neighbors, perception, and the list goes on. However, as a business leader, particularly in a shaky global economy, we should constantly be rethinking that 600rs. cup of coffee.

In business, and really life in general, there are many ways to approach this, like TQM, PMBOK, PDCA & other methodologies used throughout the AEC space and general business. They can be measured in ROI, TCO, ROS, etc… I like to simplify this, saying initiatives, particularly technical ones, should yield the same or higher quality (SOHQ) at the same or lower cost (SOLC). Couple this with a zen approach to management of a system (I don’t mean computer system) and achieving value stays simple. Of course you have to apply this to the entire system you are looking to improve, not just the software or hardware. For IT, cloud can deliver on all these variables, particularly through the “aaS” delivery methods.

At my company we are constantly working to improve on this basis, in fact it’s one of my critical roles, otherwise known as R&D. What I find quite often, internally and externally, creating or selling offerings, is most of us are not aware of all the variables, or often leave them out by mistake or perhaps to sell an idea or save our job. I also find many people think R&D is about technology & products, but it’s also about process, which means people. Many times our biggest gain is nothing more than training people in a way that aligns with SOHQ/SOLC.

I’m not a huge fan of “crowd” think, so I often look for a champion with interest, an expert(s) with know how, a coordinator for tracking, and a business leader for the BBQ test. If we are cognizant of SOHQ/SOLC every step of the way, at every level of the decision hierarchy, and considering physical assets, human resources, and intangibles, we generally end up providing or receiving the best value. When we deviate from this, it almost always goes south and we end up realizing we got a 600rs. cup of coffee. Hopefully it at least tasted good.