Cloud computing seems like an incredibly obvious idea. But as is so often the case, the best ones are.
Instead of keeping all your data in a lumpen machine in your office or on your (probably outdated) laptop, you can have your data backed up at various locations, potentially all over the world.
This means that if your office burns down, your data is still safe. Similarly, if you forget your laptop, you can access your data from any computer with an Internet connection. You and your boss can breathe a sigh of relief.
Slowly but surely, we’re switching towards seeing our devices and the data they process as taps we can open and close at will, instead of seeing them purely as more rigid, inflexible machines of process.
But if you think this is just going to mean having your data well backed up, you’re not quite seeing the bigger picture.
Here are some other by-products you may not have considered which cloud computing will introduce into working life. If it has not begun to do so already.
The World is Now Your Office
If you can access your data from any computer that means you can work from anywhere too. Now don’t get us wrong, a fundamental part of keeping any team of people working well together is that they see one another face-to-face on a regular basis – so don’t abandon the office completely just yet.
However, people often work more efficiently when they’re able to work on their own terms. Cloud computing means staff can work wherever they are and at times of their own choosing, while still allowing you a degree of oversight. The companies that make the most of this are going to thrive.
The week I am writing this the police turned up at the head office of the Guardian newspaper and smashed up a bunch of their computer equipment to destroy documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The Guardian wasn’t really worried by this as those documents are backed up in various places across the world and, really, the UK government was showing a startlingly misinformed understanding about how data is now stored and transmitted.
If you are an international whistle-blower, this is one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing; your data is no longer a bunch metal boxes that can be destroyed by fire, theft, clumsiness or government intervention.
If you are, on the other hand, a business looking to manage and store your data in a more agile way – this does help too.
Businesses Get Greener
Cloud computing isn’t just good for your business; it could also have wider benefits for the planet and society as a whole.
By storing data remotely and forgoing the need for serious server capacity within the confines of your work space, your IT system can be used more economically. It means less wastage, a more streamlined infrastructure and a smaller burden for your systems to have to carry.
Of course, this has a knock-on effect for companies that are trying to, for reasons of good publicity, government regulation or just sound practice, reduce their carbon footprint.
After all, it is always handy when the ethical, environmentally friendly business decision is also one that is cheaper and more effective your business.
Cloud computing and specific cloud-based tools (like this one for example) which enable remote administration are going to make much of business a lot easier. They’ll save you costs on hardware, do away with traditional security-related expenditure and allow your staff to work flexibly, too.
With those changes come new demands for different skill-sets.
IT companies are going to need more business analysts who can quickly and effectively analyse the user requirements of their clients. More project managers are also going to be needed because they will have to collate a wider range of external resources rather than doing everything in house.
Data integration is going to become a growth industry as businesses struggle to keep the various back-ups of their data synchronised while infrastructure specialists will be needed to make sure the whole system hangs together.
This sea-change is already well under way. Better set a course.