The Journey of a Product to Become a Service

Source: Flickr-Dick Thomas Johnson

Harry Chan

Hi, I’m Harry, a new product

I hope I’m still human. I look like one. I sound like one and I suppose I still technically am one. I’m the product of my parents. They raised me. Sure, I deviated and pivoted like all newborns, I eventually found my way into society — as a product.

In 2006, Like everyone out there I had education, training and then ventured into the working world — into offices (physically ones, mind you). We had a server room that made more noise than a Boeing 747. Whenever something failed we’d walk over to the IT administrator (or MIS) and tap them on the shoulder. “Hey, our task tracker doesn’t work. I can’t seem to lodge my requests.” I’d get told to wait 15 minutes, expect some magic and all would be good again.

I remember when I started my first job and seeing a senior colleague, Tom, installed Oracle Database and was changing DVDs. It just had a very tangible, traditional and warm feel to it.

What happened to the world?

Suddenly I could no longer see the piles of DVDs and Office (software) packaging around, and I no longer see these IT administrator colleagues. Where are they? What happened?

It’s 2016 now. These days instead of waiting for code to compile we want for software to download. Sometimes I miss the physical media.

What was wrong with this business model?

It’s mostly a result of outsourcing. Things are moving to the cloud. We, as a company no longer need to manage things ourselves. It’s shifted to a wholesale and centrally managed model. In essence, software as a service (SaaS) manages the maintenance, updates and other work your old IT friend used to do. He’s now out of a job. Poor Tom.

When Product becomes a Service, what should we be aware of?

As a worker, I provide a support service, answering phone calls, replying to customers and yes I serve and only serve. I have a hotline and an on demand availability. I get home and my wife tells me she’s been providing us a housekeeping service. Our child does community services.

I’m not sure what the world has become. My family used to sell elegant construction material. There were some great ceramic products, but the world product no longer exists in any of our world — at work or at home. I don’t open any products I buy from the shop. It’s all delivered monthly as a service.

The industry has changed. It’s been “revolutionized”. We now have a lot of apps — phone apps that are subscription based. We have a lot of online subscription based software that define themselves as services. To us, there are two major changes that are happening to the world:

1. To SME: It brought awareness and a greater knowledge to the general public. Similarly, I do think SAAS has made the barrier of adoption easier for SME in general.

2. To all business: The important thing that has changed and for all businesses to be aware of is shifted responsibilities. As a company, we no longer live in our own world. We don’t have ultimate control of where the software is installed, who manages it and how we configure it all. These are all in the hands of 3rd parties. Life is made easier and more flexible but at the same time we need to be aware of the consequences and challenges involved. It’s about a change and adapting to the change. Staff now call support — a different helpdesk per software and not someone that reports to your company. What are the SLAs of these services? Do they meet your business needs? What if they don’t?

At the end…Everything has become a Service, life still goes on.

Very true and I feel this is marketing and propaganda more than an innovation. Everything has become a service. We have:

Software As a Service, e.g. Salesforce
Platform As a Service, e.g. Heroku
Infrastructure As a Service, e.g. Amazon AWS
And many more other services.

Akin to the cloud movement I don’t agree that they’ve been major changes to the industry, but rather more marketing and buzzwords. Cloud existed way before our times in the form of virtualisation. VMWare solutions have been around for many years and so have other open source technologies. Did the “cloud” bring something to the mass market? No.

Nowadays, what defines a Product vs a Service? Most of the differences have been blurred over the years. Content and media is delivered digitally (read: online). What is the difference of paying for a product once (like DVDs) vs monthly (like Netflix)? In the beginning, we just want to enjoy a great movie in Friday night, don’t we?

【About HyperConnezion

HyperConnezion is a cloud and managed services provider. Our focus is tailor-made, custom solutions in Asia Pacific. We cater to individuals, small businesses and all the way to large enterprises that need simply the best. No matter the complexity or scale, we’re here as your IT companion to guide you through any hardships in technology. Follow us on:

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【About the Author】

Harry Chan, the founder of HyperConnezion, was born in Hong Kong and raised and educated in Sydney, Australia. Have nearly 5.5 years in managing IT startup, and 6 years experience as a developer, consultant, and system administrator.