The path to exploitation and sustainability

Frank Bennett, iCloud Limited 
European projects face a number of challenges when defining and implementing their exploitation plans. To define the right route to market, projects need a proper understanding of the cloud market and supply chains within it. Projects not only need to start planning early, but also plot their outputs as the project evolves. 
The software industry is a hive of creativity that is undergoing four disruptive drivers of change:
  1. Cloud Computing
  2. Move from licensed software to subscription software services (SaaS)
  3. Increased competition due to low entry point for developers and globalisation
  4. Open Source Software
Customers look to suppliers to advise them how software can support their digital transformation. In turn software vendors need to understand who customers turn to for advice and how their products get to market. The software industry supply chain has many actors and the primary sales models are:
  • Sell TO - Direct to customer with a direct sales force
  • Sell THROUGH - Indirect to customer through partners to include Distributors and Marketplaces
  • Sell WITH – vendor and partner combine their respective value to customer
More recently Co-Creation has gained popularity in response to change in customer buying behaviour and customer’s expectations of their suppliers. Co-Creation is applicable to the work of the EU and it’s project partners and subject of a book with the title ‘From Selling to Co-Creating’. Think Uber and AirBnB as examples of co-creation where software creates a mutual valued outcome for consumers and providers and sits at the heart of the sharing economy.
The sales model is a product of the business model and talks to the core discussion of exploitation and sustainability. The business model is the reference point in any organization that talks to how an organization creates, delivers and captures value. For that reason it is something that everyone in an organization needs to know.  Online resources are available when you Google ‘business model canvas’ although many engage an external facilitator for the development of the canvas to challenge and provide objectivity.
Upon inception, or even in the process of a grant application, projects should develop a business model canvas to understand its exploitation and sustainability potential. That will evolve over time and the canvas is the enduring reference point to record the evolution for project reviews and discussions with other stakeholders (e.g. industry partners, other project owners).