There are two sides to cloud computing. From a technical point of view, it changes the way IT is provisioned. From a business point of view, it changes the way users work. Much has been made of the technical changes, highlighting cost savings, scalability and agility.
However, if you talk to early adopters, its clear that the real value for them has come from the business innovation and transformation enabled by new cloud collaboration applications.
According to Tom Austin, VP at Gartner Group, cloud email and collaboration services (CECS) have reached a tipping point based on projected enterprise adoption by 2014. He states ultimately, we expect CECS to become the dominant provisioning model for the next generation of communication and collaboration technologies used in enterprises. Gartner's position is a strong boost for cloud providers such as Google but it is interesting to see collaboration being marked out as a new standard alongside email.
As we have helped companies move to the cloud many have been surprised by the ease of the technical migration process and how quickly the users have adopted new ways of working. The real challenge for IT departments has been changing the mindset of the business as a whole and educating business executives about the strategic business benefits and opportunities presented by enabling a collaborative culture.
We are starting to see a trend, even in conservative organisation not actively considering cloud adoption, of the viral use of the free versions of Google Docs for group workspaces and collaboration. This suggests that the personal productivity tools of old are no longer meeting the needs of teams in our increasingly tech savvy workforce. Is this a problem for IT or is it an opportunity to demonstrate business value?