A digital marketplace, where users can easily purchase technology solutions to help them do their jobs better, is a great idea in theory. But in reality, all that have been attempted in the past decade have failed. The lone exceptions are Apple’s App Store and Salesforce’s AppExchange, which continue to please consumers and enterprises, respectively.
Why have companies found it so difficult to create and sustain a successful cloud marketplace?
Several factors contributed to marketplace failures:
Ownership questions, particularly who manages and assures the end-to-end lifecycle (including support and warranty).
Content in the market, which tends to be static—meaning if there’s any latency or manual steps in the acquisition process, users will move on.
Culture as it relates to asset reuse versus a desire to “roll my own” or a reliance on custom.
Change, or more accurately, the disintermediation of middlemen and process hogs that results from a marketplace done right.
Bad user experience, which drives away potential users.
Ineffective business design or model, which makes it difficult to recover costs and bill for usage
Market expectations, which are typically inflated beyond reason.
Accenture took these lessons to heart when developing our version of a marketplace.
The trick for us was to create a way to combine key skills, expertise, tools, and practices to increase our own productivity and yield to get more bang for the buck. And then to automate, self-serve, standardize, and codify these capabilities as assets and services housed in a dynamic, easily provisionable platform.
Yes, nirvana is one-click ordering for deploying cloud-based applications.
A full stack of capability to solve for a range of business challenges and tied to a quantified value proposition with one click both improves yield and ensures higher quality. A central location allows developers to select enterprise solutions for deploying a wide range of cloud-based applications and enables us to manage the cradle-to-grave lifecycle.
With these solutions, developers can design and deploy applications at speed while reducing error rates and streamlining ongoing maintenance, support and upgrades.
We used the concept of a “mall” as inspiration for anchor tenants SAP, Oracle and Microsoft.
We started by identifying our “anchor tenants”—in this case, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft—as well as a number of relevant “boutiques” with leading niche offerings. At these “stores,” developers can choose from a menu of solutions and pick the ones that best meet their needs.
Because our solution is built around a template or blueprint function, a developer can design, validate, verify, and version an entire stack of compute in minutes—and through one-click provisioning, order that design in a standardized, self-service, and automated fashion.
That’s huge, because it has a tremendous impact on productivity and yield.
Think of it in terms of an airplane. The airplane is an airline’s biggest asset and must be filled and flying as much as possible to make money. An airplane that sits empty on the ground provides little value. Similarly, companies want their biggest assets—their people—to be as productive and active as possible.
What does this approach mean for your business cloud?
Consider SAP HANA.
A great example is the journey to S4. Demand for SAP HANA architects greatly exceeds supply. But what if you could get far more out of each of those architects—maybe even 12 times more productivity? That would go a long way toward filling demand. By using our templates, SAP HANA architects can boost their productivity because the templates cut the time it takes to architect a solution. In fact, our templates can free up as much as 150 hours of these architects’ time every month. This is analogous to an airline squeezing out more miles in the air from each plane every month.
Automated, cloud deployment for SharePoint.
One of the best uses of this approach is for solutions you provision multiple times—such as SharePoint. We used our blueprints and templates to deploy SharePoint at a global coffee company in just 200 hours—compared with the 1,000 hours it would have ordinarily taken. And that’s significant, because you can’t just shift your on-premises version of SharePoint to the cloud. The templates and scripts baked into Accenture’s SharePoint deployment solution are vital to handling the complexity and scale involved, necessary resource groups, network, operating system, VMs, and the reference architecture. So architects can focus on translating the company’s requirements into the proper solution and deploy SharePoint much more quickly.
The key to enterprise markets is creating a value proposition that delivers a high-quality user experience and generates a demonstrable return for the organization—creating a win-win for users and the organization. Like any asset, be it labor or code, the idea is to maximize yield. Or better, keep your developers and architects flying.