The future of cloud

The future of cloud

With the explosion in the use of smartphones and tablets and the number of internet-connected video devices set to exceed the human population by 2017, the Asia-Pacific region is acting as the engine room for this growth.

With the explosion in the use of smartphones and tablets and the number of internet-connected video devices set to exceed the human population by 2017, the Asia-Pacific region is acting as the engine room for this growth.

There has been a change in the way we interact with this type of technology, with cloud enabling end users to access this content remotely. Young tech-savvy consumers – dubbed Generation Y – have grown up surrounded by technological innovation and are unaware of how the connected and online experience is shaping their lives.

The changing human interaction with the cloud and its importance in our day-to-day lives has created a golden opportunity that businesses can capitalise on, using insights to increase customer satisfaction for both corporate entities and consumers. Organisations across Asia-Pacific are embracing the IT transformations within cloud, Big Data and mobile, and are using them to better serve the needs of their customers.

The opportunity of cloud

Cloud has transformed on an unprecedented scale, with the public/private cloud storage market predicted to be worth $46.8 billion by 2018. Networks are increasingly being defined by dynamic functions and the introduction of business process service level agreements (SLAs). For example, cloud platforms are being linked with traditional on-premise applications, such as Customer Relationship Management or Supply Chain Management environments. This enables the network to reshape itself and categorise its applications based on current activity levels, so that network traffic and the needs of remote workers can be easily managed and prioritised.

Innovation in the cloud

Cloud providers are trying different approaches to supplying companies and consumers building private or hybrid platforms, and are expanding their services accordingly. We are also seeing a growing number of applications developed in the cloud by business customers, who are more willing to develop their own as they are educated on its flexibility.

The idea is simple: buy relevant computing space to test an approach, then shut if off again when the activity has run its course. This reduces the risk for the business when compared to the previous options available.

With the cycle of applications gathering momentum, the enterprise app store has arrived on the scene. CIOs are providing employees with a selection of applications endorsed and supported by the organisation. This approach has had limited success until now, however, but with the widespread adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and publicly hosted secure applications, it is becoming more widespread as a way of enhancing productivity.

How can businesses maximise the opportunity?

To maximise the opportunity of cloud, businesses must remain flexible and agile, tailoring cloud platforms to offer solutions designed around individual customer needs. As providers recognise their strengths, they will also identify partnership opportunities with vendors, offering technology complimentary to their existing portfolios.

For example, businesses that deploy application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing developers to design products based on an organisation’s services, will achieve greater success. Companies can build their web-conferencing capabilities into another web-based application, such as instant messaging, enabling seamless collaboration and communication between individuals.

The reality is that organisations rarely use applications in silos, meaning that those vendors offering API solutions which increase collaboration with complementary products and markets stand to benefit from increased sales.

Intelligent insights deliver results

In recent times, Big Data has been more akin to trying to drink from a fire hydrant – we can access a lot of it, but have little time to digest it. However, businesses will start applying different lenses to data sets, so that they can identify what is relevant to them and what is impacting upon their business. By focusing on actionable data, companies will be well placed to optimise their services and customer experience.

Looking further ahead to 2015, the use of data will become key to risk management and predicting future activity. This will be driven by “smart data” platforms capable of assessing patterns to enable improved business planning. For example, if a customer pays for their movie tickets via near field communication (NFC), the mobile operator could identify the most frequent days the user visits the cinema and send them discount codes for these days. This approach to data analytics is increasingly becoming the norm in terms of how businesses operate.

Driving change
Confidence will drive changes in the cloud. Businesses across Asia-Pacific have access to large amounts of tools and services from a variety of IT vendors, and have a greater knowledge and trust in new ways to address business challenges using the cloud.

Proactivity is another catalyst to change. Businesses will become increasingly pragmatic, as they understand how the technology is making a real difference to their operations. Ultimately, the approaches being adopted will introduce increased elasticity addressing the two biggest ongoing business challenges: risk mitigation and profitability.

Almost every business function can be delivered from cloud as a service, meaning departments are becoming able to take control over their own IT spending, rather than leaving it down to specific IT divisions. For cloud businesses to stay ahead, they must offer flexible and catered business models – with mobile becoming an exciting area of growth – as consumers become more comfortable with the concept.

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