2014 forecast: cloudy, with a chance to reign
There will invariably be a wealth of articles on IT predictions and trends for 2014, with cloud being a focal area. The time of cloud and particularly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is now. Adoption growth is accelerating as companies who have experienced their first cloud successes are more rapidly accepting their second and third, with companies not yet making the step realising that those around them are moving forwards quicker and more effectively by being receptive to this new innovating form factor.
In 2012 spending on cloud services by small and medium businesses topped $45bn worldwide and this is expected to exceed $95bn by 2015. Cloud is giving the smaller business access to computing power, applications and services that before were too expensive or complex to utilise, limiting them to the enterprise client.
Concerns around security will prevail, worries about the unknown – and there will continue to be resistance from many traditional IT people who favour the ownership, control and hands-on of the on-network solution in the belief that cloud threatens their existence. Public cloud is likely to extend its growth over private cloud as businesses realise that the perception of private cloud giving them cloud with all the old self controls, also brings with it the same in-house challenges; that it is deployed, developed, managed and updated by the same service organisation that typically delivered the under-utilised, under-maintained and less than agile historic systems. This is particularly true of the small-to-mid-size firms where many continue to run on older operating systems without the latest patches and are burning extended use from often even unsupported platforms and versions.
Cloud is not a fully cooked market yet as we have a wide spread of knowledge from those using it in anger to others still questioning and needing education on the form factor itself and not understanding the nuances and differences it brings. Continued generic cloud education is needed, where the audience is informed of the form factor and not a vendor’s biased technological slant.
2014 will see cloud as a more standard consideration in IT projects and refreshes; it will become part of the formal IT portfolio; and an increasing number of companies will realise benefits from using it. The small to medium business is the powerhouse of the cloud market as they have the most to gain, from flexibility, computing power, resilience and price advantages and with around 98 per cent of all UK firms meeting this criterion we can expect to see continued rapid adoption as this market matures.
Many firms are now born in the cloud, new companies who jump straight to utilising Google Apps, Cloud CRM, Dropbox and the like to empower faster more agile business success with less worry on IT issues, costs and giving employees more flexible intuitive working environments. Many of these will threaten their historic counterparts with the capability to be nimble, fast-changing and more cost-efficient.
Cloud technologies are not bleeding edge: they are in widespread use and are mature enough for companies to feel comfortable to take benefit from the options available. Those adopting new form factors where appropriate will enable, empower and accelerate their business and staff to their benefit. Take the emotions and understanding aside and cloud is a business enabler, used correctly giving flexibility and business advantage to the point of competitive edge. We have seen businesses across industries fail to adjust and embrace utilising new technologies to their detriment. Take Blockbuster video, devastated and now gone due to Netflix and Lovefilm; Tower records and the like hit by iTunes and online e-tailers such as Amazon; and Kodak a household name ripped from existence by the digital photographic medium.
Now is the time to reflect, consider how your own business and market may change, how your competitors are utilising new technologies and what you can do to ensure you are a have and not a have-not. A great number of markets are evolving fast, customers are engaging differently and have new expectations of reduced prices and better service and new competition is threatening existing businesses with more adaptable and agile business models.
Cloud is not a solution to all, nor a one-stop shop, but it certainly presents a viable option for consideration. Do not believe by doing what you have always done you will get the same outcomes: outside factors are changing the world you operate in. Make acceptance to change your edict for 2014 and ensure you never catch yourself saying, “but we have always done it that way”…
About the Author
Ian Moyse has over 25 years of experience in the IT sector, with nine of these specialising in security. For the last eight years he has been focussed on cloud computing and has become a thought leader in this arena. He now holds the role of Sales Director at cloud CRM provider Workbooks.com. He also sits on the board of Eurocloud UK and the Governance Board of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and in early 2012 was appointed to the advisory board of SaaSMax and as Cloud Advisory Director to the board of Evoco. He was named by TalkinCloud as one of the global top 200 cloud channel experts in 2011 and in early 2012 Ian was the first in the UK to pass the CompTIA Cloud Essentials specialty certification exam.