Follow or Fail: 5 New Cloud Trends a C-suite Executive Should Watch

The cloud computing technology can easily be considered the most important platform for enterprises in the 21st century. The age of digital economy has put enormous amounts of data as drivers for many business decisions, activities, and processes. With cloud, companies have realized a number of competitive advantages such as cost efficiencies and data flexibility, putting them in the same league with many larger multinational corporations.

Now that cloud computing has gone mainstream with public cloud spending to exceed $52 billion by 2019 according to IT analyst company, IDC, in its last year’s research, the competitive advantages are beginning to diminish according to a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

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The benefits are starting to flatten out.

— Abbie Lundberg, contributing editor, HBR

Experts say that the reason for the cloud’s coming of age is because leaders are no longer applying cloud in strategic ways. A strategy is never a substitute for operational effectiveness as pointed out by Harvard strategy guru, Michael Porter.

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Operational effectiveness (OE) means performing similar activities better than rivals perform them. Operational effectiveness includes but is not limited to efficiency. It refers to any number of practices that allow a company to better utilize its inputs by, for example, reducing defects in products or developing better products faster. In contrast, strategic positioning means performing different activities from rivals’ or performing similar activities in different ways

— Michael, E. Porter

This means that for company executives to reap the rewards of cloud computing on a sustainable level, they must invest in untapped markets and areas that can provide them with a sustainable competitive advantage. Here are five areas company executives must keep a lookout for.


Cloud computing has mainly been perceived for achieving significant cost efficiencies. However, a new direction among companies lies in collaboration. According to a report from HBR titled ‘Cloud: Driving a Faster, More Connected Business’, from a survey of more than 450 business and IT executives worldwide highlights that more than 70 percent of companies perceived collaboration as a major driver for cloud usage this year.

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Business agility has been the number one driver for so long, but this time collaboration was just as high in terms of a benefit coming out of the use of cloud. That includes internal collaboration and collaboration with business partners and other stakeholders.

— Abbie Lundberg

Cloud collaboration is perceived very highly to allow various departments to work more closely together and strengthen cross-functional teams in diverse markets. The benefits of sharing data a lot quick across different departments can be instrumental in speeding up business processes and allow organizations to react to fluctuations in demand in real time.


Analytics is another area that is attracting considerable attention from organizations. With the breadth of analytics opportunities pertaining to business intelligence and Big Data, business especially in the middle market sector are increasingly placing a lot of emphasis.

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We’re seeing a continuing increase in the strategic importance of technology for middle-market companies. A lot of companies are starting to realize that technology is a fundamental way to reach out to their customers.

— Stephen Keathley, national technology leader, Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services

According to research from Deloitte, more than 60 percent of firms say their company executives have become interested in the implementation of next generation technologies while more than 40 percent are actively engaged. The rising spending on analytics is anticipated to make it the second most invested technology after cloud computing.

Cancer treatment

When we think of data analytics, we usually think of cracking numbers and extracting valuable insights to make better decisions for marketing and business strategy. However, with the scale of opportunities available today, analytics has important applications for the treatment of cancers. The Human Genome Project, the alternative to chemotherapy, was launched a number of years ago that involves tailoring treatment plan in accordance with a person’s specific disease by looking through the genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

The downside of the project is that the precision treatment plan takes up to multiple weeks and months to formulate. Studying and analyzing the human DNA is very time-consuming, but with the help of data analytics software, the length of time can be reduced significantly. OSHU and tech giant Intel have announced a Collaborative Cancer Cloud, an open PaaS, that lets medical institutes to share genomic data about their patients that can be used to develop precision cancer treatment plans in just 24 hours.

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The challenge now is that as more and more cancer genomes and more genomes for all diseases get sequenced, we’re facing a huge amount of data that’s getting generated. We need to be able to share this data in a way that allows us to decipher what it’s trying to tell us in a timely fashion.

— Brian Druker, Cancer Knight Institute director, OSHU

If emerging new analytics technologies can support the research, it will prove to be an important milestone for cloud computing in healthcare.

Hybrid clouds

Due to the rising concerns about data breaches, companies will be keen on switching to hybrid clouds. Hybrid clouds are, in essence, a combination of private and public cloud models in an attempt to keep confidential data on the former and non-essential data on the latter to keep a balance of both security and faster data accessibility. Hybrid cloud models are not simply an amalgamation of private and public models. In fact, it is a unique configuration between the two that allows companies to gain access to a number of tools for maximum leverage.

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It’s better to be proactive and establish a framework for hybrid cloud now, so as new cloud services are introduced to the environment they have a home.

— Ed Anderson, Gartner Analyst

Growth of specialized cloud networks

Apart from hybrid clouds, specialized clouds are also gaining traction. As businesses mature and operate in specific industries providing specific products and services, the cloud models they base their operations on also change.

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Because of government leadership in the specialized cloud sector, we’re starting to see many more traditional systems adopting specialized clouds. This is so they’re better prepared to provide an increased variety of cloud services.

— Wing Kin Leung, CTO, Huawei

Organizations such as the government, for instance, require a hybrid cloud network with a specific requirement of storing data locally. This plays an important part in making the cloud model specific for government organizations as opposed to a multinational corporations.

End note

Cloud, as with any technology, is bound to lose its competitive edge unless company executive find more strategic ways of leveraging the technology. This requires anticipating future cloud applications, market projections, and most important of all, a continuous search for doing things differently.


5 Tips for Improving Your Business Continuity

Today, any company needs to plan disaster recovery around cloud-based solutions. In the digital landscape, you must protect your organization from unplanned downtime or, worse, loss of critical data. Luckily, IT and cloud technologies help you to better manage your teams and data in scale.

Get Executive Buy-in

Before any IT or cloud-based technology can help you recover from data disasters, you need to purchase and deploy it first. For this, you need support from top-level management. However, executive buy-in is only the beginning of the process. Support from relevant C-suite executives ensures harmonious interoperability, which is essential for business continuity solutions that usually cut across departments.

Manage Traffic on the Cloud

For businesses that rely on traffic, global traffic management and server load balancing are critical operational considerations. Just minutes of downtime can cost the company not only lost revenue, but also lost customers.

IT and cloud-based disaster recovery allows operations to continue by switching between a number of redundant infrastructures. This allows you to maintain uptime while your tech team identifies and addresses the problem.

Virtualize for Agile Solutions

Share, replicate and back up workloads and images using virtualization to minimize the risk of data loss. Virtualization can span departments, locations and compatible technologies. Better yet, you can align virtualization with your company’s compliance policies by giving access and data rights to only specific personnel. This keeps your disaster recovery and redundancy fail-safes agile and flexible enough while maintaining data privacy.

Customize Company- and Process-Specific Practices

As downtime occurs, the IT department tracks down the problem while the customer-facing teams minimize brand damage. Meanwhile, the company shifts from standard operations to disaster recovery policies. Business continuity is an orchestra that cloud-based technologies not only assist in making more efficient, but ultimately empower to become as company or process specific as possible.

The Tech Solution for Business Continuity is Not Just an IT-only Issue

You need to get rid of the mindset that any technological solution belongs solely to the IT department. This creates barriers to more efficient reactions to downtime and hinders departmental cooperation. Any cloud-based solution that your company adopts needs to have a responsibility matrix aligned with your business continuity plan. This ensures that only the valid personnel execute the proper procedures that safeguard your company’s sensitive data.

Business continuity relies on the fact that everything fails eventually. Cloud-based technologies allow you to recover from data disasters and grow your business in scale in spite of them.

Cloud Will Be the Norm by 2020

cloud2As businesses continue to hear about the many benefits of cloud hosting for applications and files, they constantly seek to learn how many other businesses are adopting the technology. While the business world currently operates in a stage between complete cloud connectivity and on-site applications and servers, this is rapidly changing.

The Growth of the Cloud

A new report from Emergent research states that the number of businesses using cloud computing will likely double within the next six years, going from only 37 percent to an astounding 80 percent. This means that by the year 2020, those few businesses not using the technology will be by far in the minority, leaving them looking outdated by comparison.

This likely means that these few businesses will have a difficult time competing in the new cloud-dominated environment. From the largest corporations to the smallest, accessing files, websites, and apps on third-party servers for a monthly fee will be more affordable than on-site options. Additionally, these services will mean businesses of all sizes will be able to accomplish more with less using cloud technology.

Cloud in Part or Whole

Very few players aren’t using some form of the cloud for daily operations, whether it’s for HR, budgeting, or accessing email. Although some businesses may have priced solutions and found that on-premises was more affordable at this time, in the coming years, businesses will rapidly begin to find that is changing. Purchasing and maintaining equipment, in addition to employing staff to support software and hardware, will increasingly be seen as a burden.

For the many businesses considering cloud computing, now is the time to start making the shift. By beginning to replace your current applications and file storage to cloud service providers, you’ll be positioned to remain competitive as the rest of the world begins to realize how valuable cloud technology is.

Will a Hybrid Cloud Solution Work for Your Business?

As businesses work hard to decide between a public and private cloud solution, industry experts are noting the emergency of a trend. Many businesses are choosing a combination of both technologies to enjoy the benefits of each.

What is Hybrid?

Several studies are touting the popularity of hybrid clouds, stating businesses’ desire to maintain control over their infrastructure while still utilizing the affordability and reliability offered by cloud service providers. With a hybrid cloud, businesses outsource some operations to the cloud, while still maintaining on-site storage of data and/or applications.

Many businesses are already using cloud services, if only through apps supplied through third-party vendors. But concerns about security and compliance have some businesses uncomfortable with entrusting their entire infrastructures with a cloud service provider, even when that provider has strict policies in place to safeguard that data.

Understanding the Challenges

A hybrid solution isn’t without its challenges, though. When data is housed in two separate places, while still working in cooperation with each other, incompatibilities may occasionally occur. It’s important that businesses seeking a hybrid solution pick the right service provider to ensure both environments will work in harmony.

For businesses that deal in applications that work better in an on-premise setting, a hybrid solution can allow those businesses to utilize cloud services while still maintaining a stable environment. Eventually, that business may consider upgrading to a newer version of that software, but in the meantime, a hybrid solution will allow that company to continue to operate as it has been.

A hybrid cloud can give a business a smooth transition into the cloud, allowing them to gradually ease in to the technology. But the hybrid cloud can be a good long-term solution, as well. Before a business makes a final decision, experts can review its infrastructure to determine the best architecture for its data and applications.

Is Google Going to be Everyone’s IT Department?


Article first published as Is Google Going to be Everyone’s IT Department? on Technorati.

You know those computers from the 1950s you’ve seen pictures of? The ones that filled whole walls and ran on punch cards?

Well, to the 14-year-old who you’re going to be hiring in 10 years, that’s kind of how the computer setup in the standard modern office looks. From the Windows operating systems on the screens to the computer towers set awkwardly on the floor below the desks, the whole thing seems absurdly clunky.

Of course, right now, that 14-year-old’s use of technology centers on text messages and Xbox games, but when she joins the workforce in a few years, she’ll expect a work machine that exudes power while taking up almost no space.

Google is doing its best to make that vision a reality with the Chromebox and Chromebook, machines that are not so much computers as portals into Google-land.

After years of racing to give businesses and individuals bigger hard drives with more memory, Google and other technology companies have decided that’s not what we need at all. Instead, the expectation behind the Chrome devices is that we’re online all the time, so we can work and play in the cloud.

With the Chromebox or Chromebook, you have instant access to everything you’ve saved on Google Drive, which Google hopes will be all your documents. The company markets its Google Apps to small businesses as a way to replace their servers with effortless cloud storage, documents that offer access to multiple employees, and shared calendars. Of course, Gmail and Google Chat are also part of the package.

Aside from getting rid of all that old hardware, the attractiveness of this model lies partly in escaping the hassles of administering your own IT systems. Google archives your documents and email based on your retention settings and offers options to help keep you protected from audits and lawsuits. It also makes sure your data is backed up and that the roof above your server isn’t leaking.

It also makes your documents accessible from any device, which means that in 10 years that 14-year-old will be able to use whatever technology is current then (Computer watch? iNecklace?) to work from anywhere.

Is the Desktop Dead?

Sounding the desktop death knell as mobile devices edge them out of the market

In the past, a cost chasm separated the laptops from the desktop. Mobility, it seemed, came at a price. Businesses opted to buy the more pricy laptops for those who needed it most, furnishing the rest with the more reasonably priced desktops. The dropping prices of laptops reduced the gap in price to a mere $50. A mere $50 it seems, that most companies are finding it easier to justify.

It’s not just the competitive pricing that’s contributing to the untimely demise of the desktop; a growing trend to bring your own device to work (BYOD) has seen companies save on hardware costs as employees prefer to utilize their own devices instead of the trusty old desktop. Cloud technology provides centralized functionality that helps to promote the use of personal devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

This year’s sales figures reflect the changing landscape with laptops taking 68% of the market, up from previous years which saw a more even 50/50 split. There are several inherent advantages to owning a laptop:

  • Mobility: the smaller, thinner and lighter the laptop gets, the more portable they become
  • They take up less desk space
  • Increased productivity as employees are able to take them home to work
  • Negates the need to work late at the office which increases employee satisfaction
  • Telecommuting is possible as the employee does not need a computer at home and at the office

The laptop is not the only device that is giving the desktop a run for its money. Tablet sales increased by 150% over the last quarter, making it one of the fastest growing hardware markets in the business. Microsoft will be developing Office applications for the iPad which will bolster support for this emerging technology. Cloud technology negates the need for large software purchases or large volumes of information to be stored in giant desktop hard drives.

It’s not only the emerging technologies that threaten the denizens of the desk; it’s also their old nemesis, the Apple Mac. Apple Mac sales have increased by 20.7% while desktop sales dropped by 5.9% overall. This means that Apple managed to take a large bite out of the PC pie. Those who love their desktops need not fear. The good old desktop isn’t dead just yet. It still has its advantages over the new devices which include:

  • Large screens which are important for those who spend lots of time on the computer and like to see all the little details
  • Ergonomics; good office chairs and desktops are far more comfortable than hunching over a laptop
  • Storage on a desktop can’t be beat
  • Typing on a real keyboard is much easier than a laptop’s often cramped keyboard can afford

It seems the days of the desktop dominance are numbered, so enjoy them while you can.