#1 Build It
You need to sit back and envision how you can address long term customer challenges and needs that cloud and mobile technologies are uniquely positioned to help you address. The obvious low hanging fruit is customer needs/challenges that happen away from the desktop. Tools for sales people, field engineers, service providers of all sorts, collaboration of all sorts, and more. Then you need to build a “minimum usable prototype” – and get it in the hands of your customers. Don’t try to solve a complex problem. Target some simple “away from the desktop” pains that is quick to develop, and easy to explain to customers. Keep it simple so you can avoid time sapping complex discussions around IT, security, integration and so on.
#2 Validate It (Measure, Measure, Measure)
Get the solution/tool in the hands of as many of your customers as you can. This is all about getting the feedback you need to “get it right” and understand the value of your solution/service. Again keep it simple so you can quickly and easily make changes as you see how customers are using it (or not using it). Your original concept may go through some radical changes in direction as its “road tested”. Again keeping it simple is key – so you can easily follow the feedback you are getting (and not resisting change because you built someone large and costly that is also costly to change). With cloud and mobile based solutions, “metrics” is so so important. You’ll want to have your solution well “instrumented” so you can see what the customers are doing – how many unique users, how often they use, how much time they use, and so on. This is very very important as it’s these metrics that you will build your business model upon.
#3 Monetize It
Based on what you learned in the validation phase, you now have hard data to build a business model on. You can look at various monetization schemes, such as per user, per month, per month, per activity, per model, per analysis run, per team, per company, and so on. Now you can pull out that spreadsheet – that spreadsheet you wanted to start this process with – and run the numbers based on real customer usage of your new solution.
How long will all this take? How long will you need to invest in a solution before you know how and if you’ll need to monetize it?
This gets back to keeping it simple. Build the minimum viable solution. This Build then Validate them Monetize approach is just too painful (emotionally and financially) if you are trying to build something big. Think back when you started your business. You started small and simple. You probably made your first sale after less than one man year of investment – maybe less than half a man year.
This year the sales of tablets will exceed the sales of PCs (on a unit basis). The sales of PC’s have dropped for the last 18 months – with no end in sight. The growth of tablets is double digits (on a percentage basis). If you want to grow your business, and avoid a shrinking business, getting your fair (unfair?) share of your customer’s investments in mobile computing through solutions based on the Cloud and Mobile devices really is the only way forward. The train has left the station but you can catch up if you start right now.