Dreamforce conferences, put on by “enterprise cloud computing company” Salesforce.com, are always incredible events. Not only are they some of the best-executed shows put on by any software vendor, but I always leave them with new insights regarding the future of sales and marketing, enterprise applications, the Internet, and computing in general. The show this year was no exception.
The major thought I left with, this time around, was that cloud computing truly is one of the major drivers behind the advent of compound marketing practices. Bear with me while I build out this thesis a bit.
Now I realize that most of my readers are marketers, not technologists, and may not have a strong foundation in what cloud computing is, so let me digress a bit. Wikipedia defines cloud computing as “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, as with the electricity grid. … Details are abstracted from consumers [marketers], who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure ‘in the cloud’ that supports them.” If you have a bit of time on your hands, read the entire Wikipedia entry – this is the future of computing after all!
So, in a nutshell, cloud computing combines the simplicity and power of applications on demand, in a highly connected fashion. Here is a conceptual diagram of a cloud computing ecosystem (source: the wikipedia article):
Notice something interesting here? Doesn’t this diagram look conceptually similar to the concept I introduced in my recent blog post “Mapping the Compound Marketing cloud”? By powerfully interconnecting disparate web services and applications, cloud computing enables the effective interconnection of multiple marketing channels. That’s what compound marketing is all about.
For those that are interested in a slightly more technical take on the components of cloud computing “layers” and why it is ushering in an era of smarter, cheaper, more abundant applications, I recommend this recent blog post by venture capitalist Mark Suster. It’s fairly short and very readable.
The bottom line is that cloud computing will, by its very nature, enable the connections that compound marketers (and knowledge workers in general) increasingly require. Simultaneously it will alleviate the need for these marketers to become “marketing technologists” – more on this topic in the future. For now, I recommend you pay attention to cloud computing and insist that the systems you use are as connected as you require your marketing initiatives to be.
UPDATE 1/2/2011: Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.net, recently wrote a great article on the future of IT and cloud computing. Very readable and highly recommended.