Much of the discussion regarding cloud services revolves around its role with business class customers. Indeed, the cloud presents some interesting, and potentially lucrative opportunities to serve business customers. But increasingly, small independent service providers are turning to the cloud for consumer services as well.
Case in point, Granite State Communications, a New Hampshire based independent telco, is migrating to Google Apps for its consumer ISP services, including Gmail for email. Granite is working through NeoNova, a strategic partner for Google, who says twenty of their independent telcos customers have transitioned to Google’s cloud offering, with another 12 in the pipeline.
It’s not surprising that independents are beginning to leverage the cloud for consumer services, given that the consumer segment is typically their largest market segment and by a wide margin in many cases. Luckily, despite all the hype regarding business class services and the cloud, consumer services are no stranger to the benefits of the cloud.
“Consumer products are leading the charge with the cloud,” comments NeoNova Vice President of Operations and Customer Support Jason McGinnis. “Google Apps was initially a consumer app. Much of the demand is driven by consumers.”
McGinnis points to the growing demand by customers to access their services anywhere, anytime. “By having consumer solutions in a cloud environment, service providers can better meet this consumer demand,” said McGinnis.
Indeed, the trend of the cloud points to both consumer and business applications. The rapid adoption of connected devices including tablets, smartphones, and connected TVs is driving more consumer applications into the cloud. And it will only intensify, as more consumer focused entertainment, gaming, and productivity apps are proliferate. Small independent service providers will need to identify strategic partners to participate in the delivery of those consumer applications, or risk being bypassed and simply becoming a pipe provider.
Since independents don’t have the scale to develop these cloud apps themselves, finding ways to add value through managing the process and better serving customers in the provisioning and operation of these apps should be the goal. As McGinnis pointed out to me, “Google does a great job in developing these apps, but they don’t do a good job in servicing the end customer.” What’s left to ponder is this business model. Is there enough revenue and margin in this servicing role to build a long term business?