Last Updated Jan 24, 2011 3:12 PM EST
(11 minutes 24) It seems that the rate of change in technology is increasing all the time, but there's one trend that has been emerging for some time. It's the concept of cloud computing, which is nothing more than a fancy term for using applications online.
Research by Avanade back in 2009 showed that 64 percent of companies saw a shift to the use of cloud-based applications as a strategic investment, while 36 percent saw it as a cost-saving measure. The reality is it's a bit of both. It saves on capital investment, but the real benefits come from the flexibility it provides and new ways of working.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, gave a talk in 2010 where he outlined how intrinsic the cloud is to their future direction. Practically every project in the company is now driven by cloud technologies. You just need to see the enhancements in their Office suite and their move to on-demand software to understand how their approach has changed.
We hear from Steve on this edition of BTalk, as well as salesforce.com's Doug Farber, who explains how companies are now working together to enhance application offerings in the cloud. Using salesforce.com with Google's applications is a great example.
The only stumbling block seems to be security --- the often cited reason for companies to be reticent about embracing the cloud. But, says Avanade's Craig Dower, it's been raised as a concern at each stage of technology development --- from the first PC through to the rise of the Internet. We always seem to adapt and overcome these issues.
So what does it all mean for your business? On the one hand it will drive productivity improvements. But the bigger impact is in how it will change business models. Telstra's CTO Hugh Bradlow gives the example of how we are still planning road infrastructure on a 20-year time frame, with assumptions that technology will change nothing. In reality it can change everything. As Hugh puts it, the Internet will increasing impact our physical world.
The question for you is, how will technology change your business? Not just from an internal operations perspective, but how will it change your fundamental business model? If you're not continually asking that question you could come in for a nasty surprise, one of these days!
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