Tech for Commercial Property - Megatrends No 2: The Cloud…. Free at last!

May 2013

What do we want?….Freedom! When do we want it….Now!

Like Megatrend No1, No2 is all about freedom;

1. Freedom to work where and when we want
2. Freedom to compete on a level playing field
3. Freedom from the tyranny of IT departments
4. Freedom that comes from being up to date…always

Freedom to work where and when we want
The real value and indeed the real importance of Cloud Computing is the effect it could have on the way work is conducted and how we all manage our businesses.

There has been talk for years about the rise of the knowledge worker, the remote worker, the teleworker and the growing changes or pressures we all deal with in maintaining a life/work balance. Twenty years ago it was supposedly obvious that ‘the death of the office’ was nigh. Until recently though, not a lot actually changed. Offices remained the default workplace for nearly everyone. And nearly everyone worked from a fixed desk with a desktop PC set up specifically for them.

The Cloud will finally bring about the disruptive change that has been talked about for so long.

The OED defines Agile as ‘able to move quickly and easily’ . That is where business is going.

Make the most of your workplace, wherever that may be.

This does not mean the end of the office, as for many areas of work it will remain so that the office is the best place to get things done. But frankly, whilst sometimes it might be nice to be fixed to a desk, with a fixed line phone and a hard wired large monitor I believe for an increasing number of people breaking those permanent ties to a desk will be a strong desire. Particularly amongst those most skilled workers who will gravitate to employers that set them free.

Freedom to compete on a level playing field
The Cloud is the delivery mechanism for SaaS, Software as a Service. And what Software as a Service enables is for any company, big or small, to run the highest quality, most up to date software. And pay for it on a rolling per user subscription basis.

a) No large setup costs
b) No upfront licensing fees
c) No hardware requirements
d) No IT support

You simply want a service and you subscribe to it.

And if you don’t want it, you stop paying.

Such services include:

a) Backup/Storage (Amazon S3 etc)
b) CRM (Salesforce, Glasnost21 etc)
c) Accounts (Sage, Quickbooks, NetSuite etc)
d) Project Management & Collaboration (from simple Glasnost21 up to MS Project)
e) Sales Pipeline Management (Salesforce, Glasnost21 etc)
f) Email (Gmail etc)
g) Word processing, spreadsheets (Google Docs et al)
h) Increasingly your own business applications

Freedom from the tyranny of IT departments
Steve Jobs coined the term ‘the Post PC’ world. But he said that before it actually existed. Now it does. Globally more smartphones are sold each day than PC’s. And for the first time ever it is consumer technology that is leading the way over business tech. It used to be the case that the tools we had at work were better than we had at home. But now we are in the age of BYOD – bring your own device. And employees can now see great software is available on demand as well, and they want it. Just look how many people skirt around clunky Sharepoint and sign up for Dropbox instead.

And that will free you from the tyranny of the IT department. They will have to follow the desires of employees rather than dictate the archetypal ‘take what your given’ policy.

Freedom that comes from being up to date… always
With Cloud based services you always have the latest version of any software. No more using software from 3/5/7 years ago. And because you are not working with your own limited hardware but the mass ranks of sheer computational grunt available via SaaS suppliers you have access to a whole new world.

Not least of all you have access to everything, everywhere. We’re all used to having Google to hand as our ultimate pub quiz friend, but what if ALL the information you EVER dealt with at work was ALWAYS available to you, wherever you were? People have talked about ‘Information Overload’ for many years but that is the wrong way to see things. The real issue is Filter Failure. The inability of your software to filter out what information you actually need. Who would not want the perfect answer available on demand? That though requires great filters. And it is these that swarms of developers are now working on providing via the cloud. Think of Apple’s Siri software on the iPhone. You ask it a question, it goes off to a monster data center, parses all the information available and returns you an answer. All in milliseconds.

And this sort of cloud based service is coming on leaps and bounds.

Summary
These four broad advantages of The Cloud act as an introduction to why the Cloud is important and I hope intimate the affect widespread adoption could have on the way people work, and by implication the type of real estate that will be needed to support them. The Cloud will affect the amount of space required in the future, how it is configured, and where it exists. It will also save you money and it will transform your IT setup. It is transformational so do keep an eye on developments.

A stepchange in attitude to the Cloud was made last week when the UK Government announced its ‘Cloud First’ Policy – this calls for a presumption in favour of Cloud based services when procuring IT. Yes, from the ‘Bureaucrats’ in Government.

Now, who wants to be behind the public sector?

Antony

PS. Full disclosure. Glasnost21 is our CRM, Sales and Project Management SaaS. We wouldn’t recommend it to manage building The Shard but for small teams up to about 50 participants (Clients, Colleagues & Suppliers) it really does work well and adds great ‘openness & transparency’ to aid in getting things done.

We’d be delighted to show you around.