Sunshine on a Cloudy Day!

Sing along time:

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May. I guess you’d say What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl) Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl).

I’ve got so much honey the bees envy me. I’ve got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees. I guess you’d say What can make me feel this way? My girl (my girl, my girl) Talkin’ ’bout my girl (my girl).

My Girl – The Temptations

A while back we covered  the topic “What is a cloud?”  For a refresher here is the link.

Since that time the term cloud has become quite pervasive in our society.  Apple introduced the iCloud and Microsoft’s Windows 8 commercials talk about why the cloud is very important to your personal life.  What exactly is the iCloud?  iCloud stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices.  iCloud automatically and securely stores your content so it’s always available to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC. It gives you access to your music, apps, latest photos, and more from whichever device you happen to be using. And it keeps your email, contacts, and calendars up to date across all your devices. No syncing required.  Here is a picture:

Why is this great for a consumer?  You no longer have to synch your devices to your home computer.  If you take a picture on your iPhone it is immediately available on your iPad or your Mac.  If you add a new contact, it magically appears on all devices.  Download a new song, movie, podcast or any other content from the iTunes Store and it is automatically stored in the “cloud” and accessible by you anywhere you have a wireless or networ connection.  Your stuff wherever you are. No longer a need for huge hard drive to store this stuff.  Put it in the cloud, access it on demand.  Very cool indeed.

What’s the big deal about cloud computing for companies?

Cloud computing makes it super cheap for anyone to access enormous computational resources. Rather than spending thousands to own your own computer and networks, you can rent all the power you want for however long you want, when you want it.  Companies can grow really big before they need to invest in their own data centers (Groupon started on Amazon), or they can quickly expand by putting a new service in the cloud. Examples include Pinterest, which uses Amazon Web Services, and LivingSocial, which uses Rackspace. Cloud computing is an internet-based model that does not bog down your server and no software installation is required.Some businesses offer cloud computing services whereby one may purchase only the services used.

What are the different technologies that are considered cloud?

  • Software as a service (SaaS): This is an application delivered over the Internet as a subscription. It is not installed on a company’s servers or on a person’s PC. When the term “cloud” is used for consumers, it typically means SaaS such as Dropbox or iCloud.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This is where you want to build your own cloud application but you want to rent everything you need including the platforms like Java, Ruby or .Net. Examples of PaaS include Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, and’s Heroku.
  • Infrastructure as a Service: Here you rent the hardware (server with operating system, storage, and networking) and upload your own applications.  You share the hardware with other renters. You only pay for the computer resources you use. Amazon AWS is the biggest.
  • Private clouds: This means a company has built its own version of a public cloud to use for itself. When enterprises remodel their IT systems to the cloud,  they can become more efficient.
  • Hybrid clouds: This means that a company is choosing to store some of its applications in its private cloud and using a public cloud for spill-over. A retail company could, for instance, rent extra space on an IBM retail cloud in December when transactions spike. In the old days, a company would have to buy more servers to be ready for those spikes, even though they would sit unused for 11 months.

What’s next for businesses?

As IT leaders become more and more comfortable with the security in the cloud, large companies will be able to dramatically advance their customer knowledge and be able to communicate with you in a much more personal way.  For example, over many years, large retailers have acquired many smaller businesses that had their own technologies and customer databases.  In many cases, based on costs and internal priorities, many of these systems still run as stand alones inside of these companies.  Meaning, they have never been able to learn if you as a customer has transactional or loyalty relationships with other companies that they may own.  One of the first things that can be done when moving to the cloud is to develop an integrated customer data base from all existing companies within their portfolio.  This will start the journey of the parent companies having a 360 degree view of their relationship with you, leading hopefully to more loyalty and revenue from you.

Talk about transforming a brand with a negative image “It is going to be cloudy today” 😦 to “Use your cloud today” 🙂 – Now that is great marketing.

Enjoy the day.


Getting the Deal – Part 1

Ah, the coupon.

As consumers we are always looking for a deal.  When the economy was better, many of us were not as diligent as we could have been and might not have been actively seeking coupons as a part of our everyday lives.  Given the downturn and the hardships faced by many of us today, a growing number of folks have made couponing an integral part of stretching our budgets and making ends meet.

Managing Your Budget

On TLC, there is a show called Extreme Couponing where people have made this their full time job.  They really take this seriously and some folks are saving hundreds and even thousands of dollars a month.  Can you believe it?  A televised show on extreme couponing as well as the supporting web-site, tips, social communities and other advice on how to maximize our savings through the use of coupons.

We are all very serious about saving  money. The days of paying bust out retail are past.  Regardless of how much money we make, our society has been transformed by the economic conditions, our lack of confidence in leadership and the ever changing global political landscape that impacts our daily lives at the gas pump, grocery store and overall cost of living.

Coupons can be found everywhere.  Coupons have been distributed through newspapers forever and can be found everyday in the printed paper as well as the traditional FSI‘s (free standing inserts) found in your Sunday newspaper from companies such as Valassis and NewsAmerica.  Many of us receive a weekly package in our mail box from Valassis/Red Plum, Val-Pak and other companies that provide us with grocery and neighborhood coupons.  When you check out at a grocery store, you are often presented with a receipt that is loaded with additional coupons from the retailer, the product manufacturer or local businesses.  These coupons are provided to you by Catalina in many cases.

Upon entering a grocery store we are bombarded with ways to access coupons or use new technologies to save money or be presented with deals on products we may or may not be interested in purchasing.  We can join a loyalty club, swipe our card and get money off automatically without showing any coupons.  We can use in-store scanners to be presented with coupon alternatives on products we have purchased or on related products somewhere else in the store. When we choose an item from the shelf, many times we are presented with an option to grab a coupon right there for that or other products.  There are also many other kiosks that can be used to access in-store coupons.

Digital coupons are also very prevalent.  We can  go up to any number of sites to download coupons.  Some of these sites are,,, and many, many others.  All of our favorite retailers provide coupons on their sites. We can access deals from companies like GroupOn and LivingSocial that provide smoking hot deals, provided the minimum number of participants are met.

When we purchase on a web-site today, we are always presented with the option of entering a promotional code.  If e do not have one, we can quickly search for one on-line, plug it in and get a discount on that purchase.  This has become just a standard part of our purchase process on-line.

Most of the in-store retail coupons still require a paper coupon for scanning.  The reason for this is that most scanners cannot yet effectively read the bar code from your smartphone.  One retailer, Starbucks, has created an application that enables you to use your smartphone to pay for your coffee.  In order to make this work in-store however, they needed to replace all of their scanner technology.  It is a great app and demonstrates where we are going with mobile payments and convenience.

Tomorrow I will give you a peak at what is happening with couponing on your smartphones.

Let me know what you think about this blog by providing your feedback below.

Have a great day.