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April 29, 2009

McKinsey, the cloud and thought leadership

Recently McKinsey released a report that struck out against the hype and hysteria of cloud computing.

Their main themes seemed to be:

1) Undoubtedly cloud computing is a wave of the future, a concept whose time is coming...but not quite yet.

2) Cloud computing is more style than substance, in fact nobody really agrees what the definition of cloud computing is.

3) It does not scale to enterprise levels very well

4) (And most importantly) It distracts attention from other areas where tangible value can be unleashed.

Their report was almost immediately followed by a counter statement from Booz Allen Hamilton questioning their figures, stats, claims and assertions - they also named several large scale organizations who had successfully transfered to the cloud. This counter claim, as far as I know, went unanswered by McKinsey.

This is an absolute masterstroke. McKinsey, who are fantastic to watch from a consulting standpoint, have in one fell swoop declared themselves at the vanguard of thought leadership on the subject.

By coming out against an overpowering industry trend they have claimed the high ground and are able to take the stance of thought leader.

They didn't slam the entire concept, but stated it was a cost effective move for many enterprises, but it was not yet ready for prime time.

So - in favor, but not change at any price.

They also made it quite clear that there were other initiatives (which they no doubt deliver) that could add even more value right now.

And they did this via, of all things, Moving away from the corporate worlds fetish with 40 page reports and into the space inhabited by the rest of us. (A trend that is sure to continue)

By speaking about exactly that message, and transmitting it in exactly that way, they captured the 24 hour media in that minute. Getting news coverage, inches in web columns and blogs, and having their Slideshare presentation viewed and downloaded by over a thousand people.

More importantly, they got others (Booz Allen Hamilton) to point at them and compare their own ideas with those that McKinsey had just stated.

In effect this sets them up even further as the thought leaders, and as the benchmark for others to compare themselves with.

How are you breaking into your market as a thought leader? What invaluable areas can you fight against with a fact based, exceptionally delivered, and concise argument? What areas can you come out for, while supporting more cost effective and rapid alternatives?

In closing it is fair to say I have very little actual idea what cloud computing is, how it works and whether they are right or not. But I loved the event...

Check out the slideshow below...