Clouds Are Coming, Followed By Blue Skies

Historically, the word 'cloud' was a term that strictly described the mists of water that cover the sun and often times lead to rain, if not snow -- especially in New England, but not anymore! Today, the cloud is being used to define the vast array of software, applications, and data storage tools, as well as business processes that reside outside your organization and not on your computer but on the Internet. The cause for the move to the cloud is clear -- it offers numerous benefits including lower costs, operating efficiencies and reduced capital expenditures. The result is that over time, especially for those companies that are cloud providers (including Mzinga, SalesForce.com, IBM, Netsuite, Google and Amazon) and users, success will bring costs savings, productivity gains and information sharing capabilities to organizations that were previously unavailable.

Given these benefits -- cost savings, productivity gains, and capital efficiency -- organizations of every size and shape, everywhere, are beginning to deploy cloud-based computing in their day-to-day operations. In fact, I see the cloud as a means for the crowd to connect and exchange information (e.g. networks of people interacting in open and informal ways) and therefore improving business processes from sales to marketing to finance and even customer support. However, to make cloud computing a reality in organizations, different firms are attacking their migration to the cloud in different ways – from using their own IT departments to outsourcing their entire efforts.

As Ray Ozzie (former co-CTO of Microsoft and one of the original Lotus Notes founders) writes in his departure blog when he left Microsoft at the end of October, "When I look forward, I can't help but see the potential for a much brighter future: Even beyond the first billion, so many more people using technology to improve their lives, businesses and societies, in so many ways. New apps, services &scenarios in communications, collaboration &productivity, commerce, education, health care, emergency management, human services, transportation, the environment, security – the list goes on, and on, and on."

Ozzie continues, but, "we've got so far to go before we even scratch the surface of what's now possible. All these new services will be cloud-centric...As such, cloud computing will become pervasive for developers and IT– a shift that'll catalyze the transformation of infrastructure, systems &business processes across all major organizations worldwide...Today's PC's, phones & pads are just the very beginning we'll see decades to come of incredible innovation."

The good news is the cloud and crowd (social) revolution is and will continue to develop at exponential rates over the next five to ten years. The result: the cloud will 'open everything' to everyone in businesses, government, science, healthcare and education so that we can all realize our full potential.

With the cloud, and its ability to effectively hold all of us and all of our knowledge and interactions in a new way, I believe we will see a shift in formal job titles where one day, CTO's will become chief cloud and crowd officers responsible for all the formal and informal interactions, connections and knowledge of their communities. The transformational nature of the cloud and crowd is not to be understated. It is the dawn of a new day and, yes, there may be clouds in the sky, but the blue skies of growth and potential that shines behind those clouds and crowds is even brighter.

Cailin Darcy