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Modern Business

Business at Scale

Companies big and small choose the cloud to stay nimble and competitive.

By Aaron Lazenby

Summer 2018

In 2014, I interviewed economist Jeremy Rifkin on the occasion of the release of his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society. One of the main ideas offered by the book, he told me, is that technology is reducing the marginal cost of production to near zero, making communication technologies, energies, and goods and services nearly free. He said that this fact had “deep implications for the way we organize our day-to-day economic and social life.”

One of those “deep implications” came in the form of a disruptive thesis: the advantages gained through economies of scale no longer apply in the era of Industry 4.0. This squares with the argument in Hemant Taneja’s book Unscaled, which we featured in the “On Topic” section in the previous Profit issue (see “Surviving the Shakeup”). Taneja suggests that the advantages associated with economies of scale can now be rented at a low cost by an organization of any size—challenging the advantages of making capital investments in scale. Why spend money to build a factory when you can rent one?

Advantages associated with economies of scale can now be rented at a low cost by an organization of any size.”

This issue of Profit is about the way technology is changing our ideas about business scale. In “Setting Innovation Free,” Jason Williamson, vice president, Oracle Startup Ecosystem, links the idea of renting scale—in this case, in the form of cloud-based enterprise systems—to the capacity for an organization of any size to innovate. “Renting scale benefits enterprises by enabling teams of forward-thinking IT and business people to build cool stuff and keep their sights on generating new revenues for the company.”

All three of the features in this issue address the scale question in different ways. Our cover story, “The Best Medicine,” shows how autonomous technology can be used to process data and transactions faster than ever before—increasing the volume of business without scaling the size of the workforce, while scaling the business to compete with much larger players in the medical industry.

Speaking of players, “Match Fit” showcases Barcelona’s RCD Espanyol Futbol Club, a team that shares a market with one of the most dominant powerhouses in European soccer. By reorganizing internal processes around Oracle Cloud systems, the team is making a move to become a real threat in La Liga.

I hope this issue of Profit provides some concrete examples of how companies big and small are choosing the cloud to stay nimble and competitive in our rapidly changing world.”

In “A Matter of Minutes,” we look at the 21-person company iGeolise, which is based on the novel idea of letting people search digital maps based on travel time. The founders’ goal was to license their technology to B2B partners—but for that, they would need to scale their performance to match the requirements of much larger enterprises. Working with Oracle technology and the Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator Program, iGeolise has secured several lucrative deals and is ready for prime time.

For Oracle, the cloud is “The Great Equalizer,” as explained by Reggie Bradford, formerly the president of startup N2Broadband and now senior vice president, Oracle Startup Ecosystem and Accelerator. Of the cloud, he says, “We could scale up and scale down. It allowed us to operate as a startup with the scale and capacity to work with very large customers.”

I hope this issue of Profit provides some concrete examples of how companies big and small are choosing the cloud to stay nimble and competitive in our rapidly changing world.

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Photography by Bob Adler, The Verbatim Agency