February 15th. If you’re in the red rose business, it’s fair to speculate that you’ll only do a fraction of the previous day’s business.
It's the day after Valentine's Day after all. If you looked at a sales graph, it would look as if Red Roses Ltd had scaled the retail equivalent of Everest in a day, but then fallen off the summit. It's called a spike.
Now, unless you're a florist who's just arrived from Mars, you're going to reduce your service and support staff where you can. You'd be mad not to, right?
Riding the wave of customer demand – spikes, business-as-usual, spike, trough, spike again – is a fact of life for many operations.
Sometimes it’s obvious
You would be scratching your head at any company (nowadays) that failed to predict a spiky audience (from the big screen to the touch screen) for the final of X Factor or the Champions League.
Sometimes it’s not so obvious
What about the torrential bank holiday weekend downpour, missed by the weather man and scapegoat, that leads to a huge spike in multi-player games, cinema trips or travel site booking.
Sometimes it’s not at all obvious
When dry-mouthed US Senator Marc Rubio took a clumsy swig from a water bottle during a speech, critics laughed. But he reacted by selling $119k worth of 'Rubio' water for charity within days, while manufacturer Poland Water did nothing - and failed to capitalize on a potentially lucrative spike from all that free advertising.
But whether you see your spikes coming or not, you need to be able to react to them as soon as they hit and as long as they last (but no longer).
Bizarrely, the common sense that says you've got fewer staff on the florist floor on the 15th February doesn't always extend to IT provisioning. There are still many pockets where demand is temporary but capacity is permanent, particularly in enterprises.
But increasingly the economic model is unsustainable with unpredictable and disrupted industries dealing with shifting costs, emerging competitors and new behavior changes.
They don't know where the peaks and troughs lie - they're the 'known unknowns' as Mr Rumsfeld infamously put it. The pace of innovation means that you might be tweaking product even before it's launched.
If you can't react to your customers, your competitors or your opportunities when they come knocking, you'll lose out. But pre-empting spikes by building a 'belt and braces' in-house model just isn't reliable, dependable or sustainable. That's why the cloud, paying only for what you need, when you need it, has become a core part of almost every technology model.
For some companies it's easy: they were born in it. For other companies it's a tough change, rewriting the technology rule-book that has serviced them so well for years. But it's a change they have to make if they want to get to market fast and turn spikes into consistent demand.
But moving to the cloud isn’t only a cultural change. It does require a bit of thinking (often seasoned with a bit of fanatical support) to get a cloud portfolio balanced in the right way.
- Discovery and Needs Analysis – Prep the right apps for the right cloud
- Internal Consensus Building – Get the team on board
- Key Technology Decisions – Choose the right technology option
- Vendor Selection – Get the right support levels
- An Initial Trial – Try before you commit
- Ongoing Rollouts – Move in an orderly fashion
Get these simple steps right and you’re on the way to the good stuff:
A pay-as-you-go, instantly scalable infrastructure that helps you ride the spikes and innovate to a better future without bloating your IT resource to the literal and metaphorical maximum.