Ask any IT or business manager what type of information would make their lives easier and they'll usually say benchmark data which allows them to compare their performance to their peers.
In the past, obtaining this type of data wasn't easy. I know because I helped to launch META Group's benchmarking practice back in the mid-90s when benchmarking was a gruesome, paper-based process. The truth is that it was almost impossible to collect the kind of quantitative data our clients were seeking back then because few organizations captured the data within their own operations and even fewer where willing to share it with others. They either viewed this data as proprietary or too embarrassing.
Today, things have changed dramatically. Not only is there a new generation of Cloud-based IT and business management tools which capture every keystroke and track every action, we also live in an era in which everyone appreciates the value of trading information to gain greater insight about how to address our common problems.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have reshaped our attitudes about sharing information, and the Open Source movement has educated us about the value of sharing innovations.
However, sharing common datapoints about how we manage IT would not be possible without using a common platform across a critical mass of organizations. This is the beauty of Cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) IT solutions. They are built on a common infrastructure or multi-tenant architecture, and the usage data can be captured by the service provider.
Of course, there is always a risk that the service provider might use this metadata for their own proprietary purposes. But, the leading service providers are smart enough to stay clear of these ethical traps and are increasingly using this data to offer a new layer of value to their customers.
So, the next time you ask why you should consider Cloud-based IT management tools rather than traditional, on-premise management systems, think about the powerful new analytics that you can access to better manage your operations.
Jeffrey Kaplan is the Managing Director of THINKstrategies and Founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace.
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