The year of the cloud
I was asked last week to join a panel on a competing website reviewing the year that was in technology. One of the things that came out of the session was much of what happened in the tech world over the last year was really a continuation 2010.
That’s certainly true and the biggest buzzword in business tech for the last two years has been “the cloud”.
Over the last year we’ve seen a lot more providers getting on the cloud bandwagon with Microsoft responding to the Google Docs threat with their Office 365 product, MYOB launching Live Accounts, to respond to threats like Xero Accounting Software and Saasu and a whole range of vendors proclaiming they are ditching the desktop and moving onto the web.
Despite the hype businesses are slow to respond as they evaluate the various risks with moving to web-based services. Partly this is due to suspicion of the more outrageous claims such as “saving 80% of your costs by going onto the cloud” that have been peddled by some vendors.
A lot of that suspicion is fair enough, too. Many business owners – along with CEOs and government ministers – have been burned over the years by IT salespeople claiming big savings available if the gadget or software of the day is purchased.
Unlike corporate leaders and government minsters, the managers and owners of smaller businesses tend to learn from their mistakes and so they are waiting to see if the cloud services really deliver.
Eventually businesses will move a lot of their computing applications to the cloud as the cost-benefit equation is better for most services than running it in your own office as it eliminates the overheads of buying computer hardware and hiring some geeks to look after the things.
Given the real advantages of cloud services – not just in terms of cost savings but also in business flexibility, productivity, security and reliability – it’s worthwhile using the quiet January period to have a look at where your organisation can benefit from moving online.
Some of the other buzzwords like social media, collaboration and site optimisation are worth having a look at too. The holidays are an opportunity to see where these can be used better in your business.
One thing is for sure – next year you’ll be hearing more about cloud computing as vendors are gearing up for some big marketing campaigns next year. So knowing what you want for your business may well pay dividends.
This is the last column for 2011, I’ll be back next year talking business tech and I hope you have a relaxing Christmas break. For my sins, I’ll be talking doing a radio spot on Christmas Day on ABC Local Radio so tune in if you have any questions about surprises under your Christmas tree.
Paul Wallbank is one of Australia's leading experts on how industries and societies are changing in this connected, globalised era. When he isn't explaining technology issues, he helps businesses and community organisations find opportunities in the new economy.