Is the Heartland ready for the Cloud?

By - January 22, 2013

“Is the Heartland ready for the Cloud?”  That’s a question that was posed to me recently.  The question implied both cultural and physical readiness.  I’ve heard it stated other ways such as “Cloud ERP is fine for a Silicon Valley startup, but could a cloud ERP solution work for a distribution business in the Midwest?”

On the cultural side, there may be some general resistance to change, but that resistance quickly erodes when a business faces a competitive environment that demands cost effective, agile systems.  Once an organization is educated on the financial and strategic advantages of the Cloud, it’s not too hard to give up patching operating systems and replacing failed hard drives.  Plus any distribution business can benefit from a cloud ERP solution like NetSuite, regardless of the region.  Shouldn’t all CFOs be focused on the managing inventory controls,  demand planning and fulfillment rather than infrastructure upgrades?  This is not just a Silicon Valley issue.

That conclusion brought me to the question of physical readiness.  That may seem irrelevant since a Cloud strategy removes the need for extensive infrastructure.  However, the one key requirement is the availability of affordable, high speed internet access.  To understand if there really is a difference by region, I consulted Google’s public data records and compared internet download speeds for four central U.S. states to California as a benchmark.

Change in Average Download Speed for Selected States for last 2 years (kbps)

 

 

The changes over time are interesting.  While there were material differences in performance 2 years ago, the gap between California and the Heartland is essentially closed today.  The download speeds of 2010 certainly wouldn’t prevent a company from deploying a Cloud strategy, but the current near parity indicates broader and more cost effective internet access in the Heartland.  The key technology supporting Cloud ERP in Iowa increased from about 5,000 kbps to around 13,000 kbps.  That’s great news for the birthplace of McGladrey. It’s interesting that Missouri download speeds actually now exceed those of California – a possible impact of Google Fiber?  In short, Cloud technologies now make every bit as much sense in the Heartland as on the West Coast.

By:  Matt Kenney – Colorado NetSuite Solution Provider

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