Friday, August 1, 2008

Google and Amazon as Benchmarkers

One of the most interesting aspects of cloud computing is the opportunity for benchmarking. Instead of paying market research firms Gartner or IDC thousands of dollars, industry wide benchmarking data would be readily integrated in the workflow offered by a cloud computing provider. SaaS, because of its single workflow focus, will be in the early lead to provide this added value to its customers. As a matter of fact, when I am evaluating SaaS providers and find out that they don't offer benchmarking, I discount them for two reasons.

  • The core functionality I buy from a SaaS provider is the best-known-practice for the workflow they offer. We all know that best-known-practices involve some performance based feedback mechanism. Thus if a SaaS provider doesn't have benchmarking, they don't have the best-known-practice.

  • Given that benchmarking is a core tenet of SaaS, if a SaaS provider does not offer benchmarking it is most likely because they don't have enough customers signed up to generate reasonable statistics and thus their longevity is in doubt.

  • The next innovation in benchmarking is when Google and Amazon jump in. Google has already started with Google Trends, but the real business value is held by online retailers like Amazon. Amazon as part of its own offering already demonstrates lots of benchmarking prowess in generating customer focused result pages that bring together your query and purchasing history and that of other shoppers that appear to be similar in context of your current query/purchase. For retailers this is so powerful. Amazon as a cloud computing provider has its platform perfectly positioned to attracked more specialized retailers that would not have the scale to do proper benchmarking. There is no doubt in my mind that Amazon will leverage this incredible information asset and make oodles of money.

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