In an earlier post, I offered one explanation as to why the cloud has not achieved great adoption by industry. Basically, technological change is not simply a matter of the technology’s capabilities but of people’s willingness to make the change. However, outside industry a culture has developed complementary to cloud technology, which has already begun, and will continue to, sep into the corporate culture.
It is the consumer who will motivate such a change: remember that consumption usually requires employment and so employees bring their consumer expectations of technology to their desks and aged desktops. Consumers, whether or not they realize it, inherently trust “the cloud,” even if they do not use cloud technology per say. The cloud essentially provides a way that a person need not store the file on a piece of hardware in her possession to access said file at will. For example, before the cloud became a ubiquitous term, people emailed files to themselves to serve as a backup, knowing they could access it from anywhere. This is essentially the brilliance of Evernote and Google Docs: no more emailing and files are nicely organized.
Consider someone familiar with computers and the Internet, call him Doug, who moved to a cove rather than face Y2K and so is unfamiliar with any developments after 1999. Now Doug has decided to return to general society and hears that a great way to just just that is by going to http://www.facebook.com. While hard at work creating a profile he remembers the imperative to “save often,” and jokingly chastises himself for the oversight. His good-natured self-deprecation, though, soon turns to annoyance, then panic at Facebook’s oversight of incorporating a saving functionality: if he leaves the site for any reason, accidentally or purposefully, won’t he lose his carefully selected interests and proudly displayed friends?
We know that such a worry is hardly necessary and slightly ridiculous, but Doug doesn’t know that everything is saved “somewhere else” and wouldn’t expect so. So much of the social online activity depends on this implicit trust that the site, not the user, will save the work. Consumers rarely ask “how,” but the cloud very nicely fits with their expectations. Companies recognize this unarticulated demand, and so leverage the cloud to provide services never previously possible. Again, Evernote and Google Docs allow a person to work anywhere: finally free of the USB!
Consumers then, when they transform into employees, bring their understanding of technology into the workplace and so would likely be very comfortable with a move to the cloud. So comfortable, in fact, that they might pass through it unawares, or perhaps they have already made their transition with their land-lubber boss oblivious.
As slow as the rise to the top may seem, the boss today will eventually begin to collect pension, allowing new leadership into the cockpit. In this way, new or previously overlooked ideas can have their day, including a shift to the cloud. New leadership seems particularly likely given how easily a company’s best can obtain another offer: promotions provide the incentive to continue employment.
It is as though industry takes the economic abstraction seriously that employees and consumers comprise two separate entities, which assumes that technologies for consumption and those for employment are mutually exclusive. Fortunately, when industry does finally decide to come out of the sand and into the cloud there will be, unlike on a hard-drive, plenty of room