the cloud computing cultural shift, fuelled by convergence & empowerment

This is part two (part one's here) in a series of three blog posts dedicated to my interview of Ovum’s Laurent Lachal, a trained historian and technology enthusiast who has been an analyst for the English firm Ovum for 20 years. Lachal's view of the cloud computing scene is driven by insight and a clear understanding of the evolution of this new discipline, which is not just technological, but also encompasses a very strong cultural shift for enterprises that embrace it.

This interview is divided into three parts: part number one describes Lachal's vision of the cloud computing market, part two is dedicated to the two pillars of the cloud computing cultural shift i.e. empowerment and convergence, and lastly, Laurent Lachal will focus on the increasing significance of telecoms providers in that market and how they are playing an increasingly important role, namely in providing infrastructure for the cloud (IaaS).

There are two things that are going to be mingled: on the one hand, there is the notion of convergence and, on the other hand, that of empowerment. I'm going to talk about both, because I think they are quite important.

a true cultural revolution

We have been talking about ICT convergence for the past 15 or 20 years. It has been happening, slowly, but surely and now, all this is accelerating quite a lot and especially from the Telecom providers' point of view. What is quite interesting is that Telecom providers have started to expand through IT services. Under the influence of cloud computing they are becoming increasingly software providers as well. That is, I would say, a true cultural revolution. What convergence means, is that hardware, software and telecoms people are all doing what the others are doing already. Oracle is now doing hardware for example, Telecom providers are doing software and hardware, etc.

The blurring of lines is not just on the supply side. It's also on the demand side. If you look, for example, at the storage of very important documents, you have on the one hand legal firms offering that kind of service, as well as the Banks. There are two types of companies coming from two different directions because of the natural evolution of the digitalisation of the economy, and they are also becoming competitors on that particular issue.

notion of convergence

So the blurring of lines is at all level. Within enterprises, it happens around IT. There is no longer the high priests of IT and then the believers who don't know anything about everything that is happening about IT. There is a huge continuum between the people who know a lot about IT and are actually employed by the IT department, and the people who don't know anything about these subjects. In the middle, you have people who know quite a lot about IT, but are not necessarily employed by the IT department. They belong to other departments. And that blurring of skills, is accompanied by a blurring of lines in terms of who decides what.


There is this notion that CMO's are the new big controllers of the IT department. This is absolutely nonsense. If you don't take that in the right context I mean. A lot of people say that, they actually think that the CMO is going to control most of the IT budget, but that's absolute nonsense. What we witness, in actual fact, is a 80/20 ratio, 80% going into maintenance, and 20% going into innovation. The IT department is still firmly in control of the 80% that goes to maintenance. What the CMOs and the CFOs of this world are increasingly in control of, are the 20% dedicated to innovation.

notion of empowerment

And we are moving from this notion of convergence to the notion of empowerment. There is empowerment through skills, empowerment through financial planning, i.e. who decides where to spend what, and there is empowerment through technology. Early in my studies of cloud computing I attended a conference. One of the members of the audience asked the question: "what is the impact of cloud computing on the user?

What really stunned me is that nobody amongst the speakers could actually address the question. They didn't know what to say. I wasn't really talking at that conference, yet I then took the microphone and then I said that cloud computing is user-centric, and that if you didn't understand that, you didn't understand anything about cloud computing at all.

Cloud computing means that, for the first time ever, I have a new option. Before, I had two options: the first option was to ask my IT department, and the other option was to ask an outsourcer. If both said no, I had no other option. Now, with cloud computing, if my IT department says no, and my outsourcer says no, I turn around, fire up a browser and “Bob is my uncle”… that is to say, if I have got enough credit on my credit card.

So, that factor is absolutely critical: bring your own device, bring your own application is not about technology, it’s much more about culture. Of course, it is about managing applications on any device, and yes the technology is maturing, but the key problem is how to manage that cultural shift through empowerment and convergence and that's what all enterprises are facing today.


Read the whole interview:

  1. Part One: cloud computing evolution explained by a trained historian
  2. Part Two: the cloud computing cultural shift, fuelled by convergence & empowerment
  3. Part Tree: telco operators at the heart of the cloud computing revolution

This blog post was originally published in French here.

crédit photo : © milka-kotka -

Yann Gourvennec

I specialize in information systems, HighTech marketing and Web marketing. I am author and contributor to numerous books and the CEO of Visionary Marketing. As such, I contribute regularly on this blog for Orange Business account on cloud computing and cloud storage topics.