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Hot Potato! How the Cloud Helps You Play the Disruptive Innovation Game

Did you ever play "Hot Potato" in school? You tossed the potato (aka a ball or beanbag) back and forth with your classmates, and as the music sped up, you felt a heightening sense of urgency to throw more quickly, lest you got stuck holding it when the music stopped.

A stream of digital graphics over a city skyline, representing the speed of disruptive innovation.
Is your business ready for disruptive innovation?

That's what disruptive innovation is like, except the music never stops. It's perpetually urgent, and perpetually changing. As soon as a new technology is established as disruptive, new movement is already underway to disrupt the disruptor.

It's dizzying, daunting, and pretty darn exciting — if you can keep up.

Another One Bites the Dust

There's a good reason "disruption" is the most common buzzword in the 21st-century digital lexicon. Disruptive innovation has become the status quo. Also at the top of the buzzwords list is "agility."

Software developers now use agile development methods so they're prepared to change course quickly if something disruptive happens. IT leaders and C-suite executives attend mindfulness training, where they learn how to be more aware of the present and agile in their future decision-making. This makes sense, given the perpetuity and urgency of disruption.

Think of it like a quarterback leading a football team down the field. He must be fast, nimble, and adaptable. He must be aware of what's right in front of him and what's coming at him from all sides, while also keeping an eye on the end zone. However, just like the music never stops in high-tech "Hot Potato," there is no end zone in high-tech football. Even when you score a touchdown, you must keep moving forward, adopting new technology and finding innovative ways to use it.

What happens if you slow down? Just ask anyone who works at Blockbuster, Kodak, or Myspace. You could also ask a travel agent or a taxi driver — but hurry up, because they're nearing endangered species status.

Of course, you don't really need to ask anyone. You already know what digital disruption can do to an industry, or even to one aspect of your business. If your competitor has cutting-edge business communications tools and can deliver a better customer experience, that competitor is primed to woo away your loyal customers — at least until someone else comes along with new technology and better ideas about how to use it.

So, how can you stay one step ahead and be prepared to switch course quickly when the game suddenly changes? How can your organization prepare itself to handle the perpetuity and urgency of disruption? That depends on where you are in your cloud migration. Here are four reasons why:

1. Cloud Solutions Get Faster ROI

Traditional enterprise software solutions and communications platforms can take months to implement and often require your organization to build new network infrastructures, set up new servers, and invest in expensive hardware. It's no wonder executives hesitate to abandon legacy systems. You don't bench your star quarterback after one great season — you keep playing him until he's too old and injured to score.

Cloud-based solutions don't present the same challenges. With the pay-as-you-go business model and minimal (if any) hardware requirements, cloud solutions cost less up front. There's no need for IT to store the data or maintain the technology, since the cloud vendor handles that.

Since you pay for what you need, not invest in what you will need, you don't have to spend years with subpar solutions just to get ROI.

If your competitor has cutting-edge business communications tools and can deliver a better customer experience, that competitor is primed to woo away your loyal customers — at least until someone else comes along with new technology and better ideas about how to use it.

2. You Don't Keep Starting from Scratch

Cloud-based enterprise platforms and APIs make it easy to adopt new technologies and integrate them with existing ones. So, when the next big thing (and the next one after that) comes along, IT doesn't need to build a new back end. They just plug it into the technology stack.

For example, with communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS), you can run all your real-time communications (RTC) tools — voice, video, text, instant message — through one unified system, rather than piecing together features when the company needs them. Using CPaaS APIs, you can add RTC features to your website, mobile apps, and social media channels. So, when you want to launch a new app or establish a presence on a new social media network, all it takes is a little code to open the lines of communication.

3. You Benefit from Collective Disruptive Innovation

The first pancake is never perfect. Neither is the first version of an enterprise technology solution — or the second, or third, for that matter. For software developers, innovation is all about iteration by learning what works and what doesn't work, then improving products.

With traditional software, you must wait until the next version for big changes, and smaller fixes require regular updates, which drains IT resources. Cloud vendors constantly improve and expand on their solutions based on user feedback, customization, and experimentation. These updates are automatic and system-wide, meaning IT doesn't have to update everyone's computer once a month.

4. Cloud Technology Scales

With traditional enterprise software, adding new users means paying new licensing fees, installing new software and/or hardware for each user, and possibly adding new servers to accommodate the extra traffic. With cloud services, new users just need an internet connection and login information. You can add or drop certain functionality as your business evolves and scale storage space as needed. Your only limitation is bandwidth.

Digital disruption won't slow down anytime soon. Going forward, innovation is perpetual and even exponential. And it's most certainly urgent. Is your organization prepared?

To learn more about cloud solutions for your business, speak to a Vonage Business consultant.

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