The value proposition provided by the combination of cloud storage services and big data analysis is a potent one-two punch. Then combine that with the value that can be achieved through collaboration with your external partners and the value increases dramatically to a very compelling level.  There are two key areas of return on investment; the savings which are hard dollars and the value derived from the big data analytics opportunities.  The initial value derived through the reduction in storage investments will provide a very strong value foundation and then the value derived from the big data analytics will build that value to a compelling proposition.

Starting with the hard savings; the start-up cost savings provided by a cloud storage strategy presents a savings by allowing you to start small with a minimal investment to start the community.  This strategy then supports the thoughtful growth based on actual and forecast usage rather than a guess on future needs to make a large purchase that may not be necessary for quite some time.  There is a second area of hard savings that should not be discounted and that is the savings in surveys, focus groups and external market analysis consultations.  These can also become significant savings to eliminate external spending and replace with internal actual consumer response, not based on a biased survey or questionnaire but based on actual consumer interaction in the community and responses to the offers and requests and suggestions from other consumers in the community.

The savings derived from the analytic capabilities will produce the greatest long term value based on the research capabilities provided to the entire extended network.  This is not a savings that you can initially forecast and bank, however it is a savings potential that can produce tremendous increases in sales along with reductions in inventory costs and especially in overstock mark-downs.   The analytical opportunities have the potential for changing your market strategy and capabilities.  This has been the call of big data and this is especially true of the potential that can be achieved through the analytics of the consumer community data and especially sharing this data with your extended partners for additional network research.

You cannot, though, go into this plan without performing due diligence and contractually holding cloud service providers accountable for the safe storage and recovery of data.  It is critically important for the long term viability of your consumer community strategy and framework that you enter into this initiative with eyes wide open and define both the potential issues in storage and recovery of data. 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?