Yes, cloud computing enables cost savings — as companies can access technology and applications on-demand on an as-needed basis and pay for only what they use. And yes, this fosters greater agility, with less reliance on legacy IT assets. But the changes go even deeper than that. Consider the ways cloud computing is altering our business landscape.
We are seeing an increasing trend – perhaps thanks to social media that is encouraging companies and local business communities to interact for a mutual good – that when businesses co-operate as well as compete, success ensues. Corporations have learned that a comprehensive service is attractive to the consumer. This is why freelancers band together and we are seeing an increase in inter-organisation referrals.
Furthermore, the link between creator and consumer is being blurred. Poststructuralist Roland Barthes famously said “the death of the author (auteur) is the birth of the reader”. Ever heard of the term “crowdsourcing”? Cloud computing is a part of this blur. Amazon.co.uk now sells excess server space alongside books. Businesses are helping each other and there is no longer a language of “us” and “them”.
The sharing of services also allows new business to thrive. Not everybody can afford the thousands it costs to buy a server, design a full website, or develop a full database. But thanks to companies selling off their excess wares, spaces can be rented for a fraction of the cost. Even big companies like the Guardian – who were are the forefront of digital newspapers a couple of years ago – use Amazon Web Services. Here are a few more.
McKendrick states, “Designing new products, without the need to go through corporate finance and IT approvals definitely is a great way to instill entrepreneurial spirit”.
Cheaper start-up costs mean more time spent on creativity. This leads to innovation, and allows even the smallest firms (perhaps someone who creates iPhone apps) to create tools we may never have seen before. E-publishing is also an attempt at reaping a higher percentage of profits for the inventor. This has been especially topical in the case of the music industry, where many artists are trying to break free from archaic and stifling contracts and sell their music independently. Everything from Tunecore to iTunes has shown signs of this.
Cloud-computing also facilitates outsourcing. From collaborating on projects with someone in India to monitoring the work of a contractor, the Cloud allows for a continuous workflow that is independent of the workplace. Companies can quickly adopt services for the short time that they are required. This again presents an excellent opportunity for the start-up.
Isn’t it time to start thinking of Cloud computing as less of a fad and more as the trademark of a forward-thinking business?