Every Company is a Cloud Company: The Relationship Between Technology and the Future of Business


People first. That’s where this discussion begins.

My guest on this episode of Revolution is NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson. For running one of the leading companies in the cloud business software game, Nelson is among the more grounded and sincere technology executives I’ve sat down with in quite a while. We didn’t discuss innovation, speeds and feeds or key differentiators of NetSuite versus other companies, instead we looked at people, why and how they run businesses, and how technology enables them to chase their dreams and goals.

In our discussion, Nelson walked us through the migration of mainframe to PC to cloud computing and in the process, through technology, brought us closer to people (customers, partners, and employees) than ever before. His point is that the complexity of technology slowly vanished giving businesses the opportunity to focus on the “why” and “how” of business. More importantly, he also believes that every company is now becoming a cloud company. He’s not just referring to the Netsuite’s or Salesforce’s of the world. He’s talking about cattle companies, florists, you name it. Running a business should not happen because of technology. In his view, technology should just work so that you can prioritize attention on the things that matter to your business today and tomorrow.

If every company is a cloud company and the complexity of using technology is gone, Nelson believes that companies can act more holistically, not departmentally, to invest in strategy, products and services, and customer relationships.

“How can people be missing from the equation!?”

Nelson emphasizes that this is the time for leaders to listen and learn. Technology becomes an enabler to change how business is done.

“I’m about to give you money and you don’t know who I am,” Nelson shared in the voice of a customer. His answer is to consider the balance between “internal automation versus external learning and engagement.” Customers expect you to know who they are, where they are, and not to have to conform to your old models in place today. They’ll simply move on if they have to.

Please take a moment to watch this invigorating conversation.

His vision and observations are at the very least…refreshing and inspiring. As he notes, we stand at the “intersection of the technology and telephony revolutions, which has brought businesses closer than ever before to customers and employees.”

Said another way, people first.

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  • http://36creative.com/ 36creative.com

    I think we are definitely at a cross roads moment when it comes to technology. We have more choices to be efficient now than ever before.

  • http://www.ecollarcloud.com George Mylonakis

    Spectacular interview, Brian… related question to one I just posted on your other article… do you think small businesses, who have spent decades being out-matched by big businesses with superior technology, are actually at an advantage now with the cloud revolution? Given that they do not have these legacy systems (most small businesses don’t have ANY system), isn’t it easier for them to move to the cloud and become more in-tune with their customers?

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      Thank you and interesting question. I wonder if this isn’t an opportunity for small businesses to innovate as well. Certainly they are nimble. It’s not so much about technology. It’s more about the culture, decision making, and processes that allow you to innovate and move.


Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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