A Look at Cloud Business Technologies, Past and FutureFebruary 28, 2014 No Comments
The cloud has been one of the most prolific buzzwords in business for several years, ever since the concept first debuted. Some detractors believed the cloud would be a passing fad, but the reality has cemented the remote technology-as-a-service idea as a staple of business implementation. Today, most businesses turn to the cloud for everything from document hosting to workforce management. A little over a year ago, Deputy published a blog listing essential cloud platforms. How right were the predictions, and what’s considered essential to businesses today?
Trello was hitting its stride at the end of 2012, with the million-user mark reached right at the turn of the year. The company has continued to expand, and during the last year introduced a business class set of features specifically designed for business infrastructure. It’s certainly a useful cloud service, so Deputy is right on the money.
Billed as beautiful accounting software, Xero has more than lived up to its reputation. The cloud-based accounting suite can hardly be considered a failure when Forbes cites it as a massive success. Xero didn’t just revolutionize a segment of the industry; it changed the way the industry was utilized.
Evernote has a very well defined niche as a general note-taking app based in the cloud. For some people, it’s near essential for daily life. For others, it doesn’t do a whole lot. The app is highly dependent on the needs of the person, so it doesn’t seem to be recommended as a business necessity very often. Even so, the app is an unbridled success. It’s just more successful in the public realm than it is in the business world.
Google Docs strives to supplant Microsoft Office as the leading word processor, and as a cloud-based solution, it gains some powerful use in business. As part of Google Drive, however, the app has received a mixed reputation. Some businesses love it; others prefer to use more traditional resources. Microsoft debuting Office 365 with connected SkyDrive power makes the choice simple for some businesses as well.
Deputy rightly predicted several powerful business cloud services, but what else is out there today? How is the cloud going to evolve over the coming year? Consider the five trends put forth by this article on Biz Technology Solutions.
Hybrid Cloud Solutions
No one app typifies this tread; rather, most platforms will tend towards a hybrid model. Large businesses can afford their own private clouds, but most small and medium businesses will choose from what’s available in the public and hybrid sphere. There will be a general move away from full public clouds for security reasons — too many high-profile data breaches have scared the industry in the last year. Online timesheet tracking, for example, is a good service to hide behind a private cloud.
Value Added Services
This one is already happening, though the line is hard to draw. What’s the difference between a cloud storage solution and a cloud storage solution with recover options? What should be considered standard for a type of cloud service, and what is an added value extra? 2014 will be a year of cloud-based arms races, with cloud providers looking to come up with extra value for businesses that their competitors don’t offer.
The increasing availability of cloud storage is more or less a given. Major hard drive manufacturers have announced compact six terabyte drives, which will bring down the cost on smaller storage devices. Cloud storage is expensive partly from the cost of hardware and partly from the upkeep. Competition in the field will lead to some expensive companies offering a host of added value services — such as Box.net — and some cheap companies offering little more than massive volumes of storage.
Of course the cloud is going to grow. There’s no real limit to the power of the cloud. Small businesses don’t have the space or the budget to do everything in-house like they used to have to. Cloud services, particularly cheap services with the right balance of added-value features, will become the foundation of new small businesses and a primary enabler for medium-sized business growth.
Targeting the Problem
The real change for cloud services in the coming year is going to be how they target their customers. Many cloud services, especially many of the earlier companies, market to a specific type of business. They say, “This cloud infrastructure is designed for mid-sized businesses and scales as your business grows.” Cloud providers are increasingly realizing, however, that the type of business doesn’t matter. What matters is the problem being solved. A company using the cloud to provide time and attendance records can work equally well with a new small business as with a large multinational corporation. It’s a matter of solving the problem for everyone.