There has been a lot of talk lately about operating in ‘the Cloud’ and here at Tunicca Towers we have been asking whether this could well be the dynamic and exciting next step for Pre-media. But also could it provide a wake up call for all of those Pre-media vendors out there who have built a good business around the provision of software tools to our industry and their subsequent upkeep through lucrative support contracts? Basically, who will benefit most from the Opportunities in the Cloud?
I should add that the concept of operating in the Cloud has become a reality since the advent of faster communications speeds and greater processing power. An early casualty of the Cloud has been internal IT departments who have been replaced by outsourced external companies who keep a couple of guys on site for trivial issues and for customer relations. Everything else has been transitioned off site and most IT infrastructure sits somewhere in the ether – frankly the customer doesn’t give a hoot where it sits as they can be left to concentrate on their core business and IT is no longer a ‘burden’ on their payroll and balance sheet. In effect it becomes another monthly operating cost just like any other utility.
In the case of software systems, the ability of the Cloud to host powerful programs that are core to a business is getting closer and closer. Imagine an architecture company for instance whose business is based around the design of contemporary new houses and buildings. The success of that business is based upon the years of training undertaken by their architects and the creativity held within their design oriented minds. That is the core of their business and not the expensive design package that sits on each of their architects workstations – these are viewed merely as the tools of the trade. If those software tools can be funded, managed and accessed in an entirely different way then that architecture company is going to seriously consider a more streamlined and effective method of using those tools. And this is where the Cloud comes in!
But how does this affect the specialised area of Pre-media where historically processing power, as well as the clever technology developed by the many Pre-media vendors, was what gave one service supplier the edge against another? Well imagine if you will a world where technology vendors no longer sell expensive high end software packages along with the accompanying annual commitment of a support contract and everything that comes with that (annual version upgrades, intermittent .xx bug fixes, visits from engineers to carry out upgrades, second visits from engineers to rectify what went wrong during the first visit, etc.). Imagine a world where none of this exists and the software just sits in ‘the Cloud’ – you the customer just pays an annual or monthly subscription fee to use it.
Sounds like utopia doesn’t it? But I am just wondering if the many techology vendors out there are going to dive gleefully into this new dynamic world of offering their crown jewels up in the Cloud. What a different world this promises and more importantly, what a different business model that presents for all involved – no large capital outlay to buy a DVD and manual in a colourful cardboard box with the “licensed rights” to use a that software, no ongoing support contract and no upgrade visits from engineers to screw up Pre-media systems that were working perfectly well before (OK that last bit was a bit harsh and I apologise to all of the engineers out there that I know).
The ability to offer such applications like this is enhanced by cloud hosting services like Amazon Web Services and their Elastic Cloud solution which is enabling more companies to drop the need for upfront investment. It will be very interesting to see which vendors grasp this new era in the world of Pre-media and how much customers will drive that requirement. I visited Kodak recently and they have gone some way to embracing this by offering packages such as InSite on a subscription basis. There are also vendors such as Aviary and ProofHQ who are offering packages that sit up in the ether. And of course let’s not forget Adobe who offer their applications on sites such as Photoshop.com and Acrobat.com.
Suffice to say that the traditional ‘Software on a Disc’ model is under threat and this could mark a completely new era of business for vendors and service suppliers alike. How, or indeed if, they can cope, adapt and make money in this new era will be interesting to see. As advisers to the Pre-media industry we are watching carefully as the advice that we give our clients is based around providing their companies the very best operational model to take them forward.
Author: Sean Runchman
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