#Digital #Disruption #Cloud and the plethora of these similar hashtags seem to be thrown around just about anywhere - whether its on social media, your average business conference, newspaper article and in most tech-related discussions I've had in recent years. With confusion as to what is disruptive today versus what is not, it is difficult for businesses to ask the right questions and more importantly, invest in their respective answers.
Forbe's Greg Satell does a fantastic job in stating why the cloud is a disruptive technology. However, he focuses on differentiating cloud services from traditional IT technologies like hardware or packaged software. What I would like to highlight is there are many reasons for why the cloud is actually not as disruptive as most would imagine because of the many management-related skills and resources that are required. In order to use the cloud successfully, firms must match the cloud services to meet their existing needs, find the right provider and deal with security and reliability issues making the cloud a lot less disruptive as Satell claims.
Matching cloud services to meet existing needs
Just like with more traditional IT technologies, such as, packaged software, management is responsible for aligning cloud services to meet existing needs. As stated in “Cloud Services for SMEs”, a challenge that the cloud presents is aligning existing needs to standardized cloud services[i]. Cloud services are thus not that different from most traditional IT because standardized products must be managed in a way that still helps firms. The alignment can be done with cloud services, just like it has been able to be done with packaged software or hardware.
Finding the right provider
One of the steps required when brainstorming on using cloud services is shared with more traditional IT technologies: Finding the right provider is crucial. This step is shared with purchasing packaged software and hardware. Finding the right provider comes with asking trusted sources for referrals, creating a short-list of a few providers who you already know and thinking about renewing with the incumbent[ii]. However, the same can be said for packaged softwares. For example, before purchasing Microsoft Word, management must decide whether it should purchase it from Microsoft directly (through its distribution channels) or if it should purchase the packaged software from a third party. Management will have to ask trusted sources for referrals and create a short list of third parties and Microsoft’s distribution channels. It would also have to think about speaking to past providers of packaged software to see if it may be worth purchasing the service from them.
Security & Reliabilities issues
Lastly, security cannot be a more pressing issue for both the cloud and more traditional IT technologies. The cloud can raise the problem of security because it could be hacked into or information can be stolen from it. In terms of reliability, sometimes servers crash and so there could be temporary or permanent loss of information. Therefore, it is not as simple as most would think. While this sounds elementary, cybersecurity is the main reason for why banks and those in financial services are lagging behind in the cloud trend. Let's get a little creative here:
Before the iCloud by Apple, racy pictures of celebrities stored on software and hardware would surface because people would share the images on social media, television and news sites. Many celebrities are known to have had nude photos or racy pictures surface on the internet. For instance, in 1990, Geri Halliwell or “Ginger Spice” from the Spice Girls (a female British pop group) took racy pictures and resurfaced in 1992 and 1995 in both Playboy and Penthouse[iii]. The pictures must have been stored in a hard-drive and secured there. They still managed to resurface because either a hard-drive was acquired or landed in the hands of the wrong person. The same can be said today even though the iCloud is supposed to be secure and reliable. A few weeks ago, actually, Apple’s iCloud was subject to a password hack and a security breach[iv]. This led to Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence and about 100 other celebrities to have their racy or nude photos leaked. Though times have changed and many have switched from more traditional IT technologies to cloud services, it does not mean that the cloud is completely different or more disruptive. Management skills are relatively the same or at least similar for cloud services compared to traditional IT technologies.
There you have it folks, a racy picture comparison illustrating how the cloud isn't truly as disruptive as we think. Who else would have thought the Spice Girls could help banks reconsider their IT strategy. #Spice up your lives financial services! A little too much? I digress.
[i] Cloud Services for SMEs, p.41
[ii] Cloud Services for SMEs, p.42
[iii] Wikipedia – Geri Halliwell – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geri_Halliwell
[iv] Apple’s iCloud Security Breach (Jennifer Lawrence)