The Business Cloud - It's Like Farming Sheep



By Don McLean

I hate the hype that goes with Cloud. In the IT industry we unfortunately make it harder (through the use of jargon), not easier for business leaders to understand. With so much technology and so many terms that the average person can’t comprehend, it’s no wonder people get confused and don’t know where to start.

Recently I was in country NSW (just west of Bathurst) and had a great discussion at a barbeque with Matt, a local sheep farmer. He was interested in computers, and in particular this “cloud thing” he’d come across. He wanted to know what it meant for him, his children, but mostly his business. He said he was very confused about it all and couldn’t really understand why it was important or what it did.

At this point I’d had a couple of beers, but– trying to make my language less computer speak – I told him that Cloud Computing was just like farming sheep… A strange analogy I know, but bear with me.

Sheep farming, from the outsider’s perspective, is about taking a ewe, impregnating her, and then playing the waiting game for 152 days until a lamb is born (I had to Google that). Much like in the business world, that process determines whether you make money at the end of it or not… but in the sheep world, a lot more external climate factors determine some of the outcomes. What the farmer is looking for is as much certainty as possible. He wants the confidence in his ability to say that the end product (the lamb or lambs), is a 100% definite outcome, and born safely with as little complications as possible.

I told Matt that Cloud Computing is no different. We try, as much as possible, to take away the possibility of chance/risk. We make it our job to remove the doubts and the worries that businesses have about IT security, uptime, resource availability and process certainty.

Matt was familiar with MYOB (Mind Your Own Business), so I talked to him about our leading product NetSuite, using it as an example of a native Cloud platform in order to compare it against his desktop version of MYOB. I explained the benefits of what the platform has to offer in reference to his business and his experience. That’s when the lights went on. Something clicked in his mind and he realised what it was all about, specifically to him.

The major benefit? “That means my accountant doesn’t have to traipse 60km just to see me to do my BAS!”

Sheep farming. Cloud computing. Simple really.

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