The internet has proved itself to be a revolutionary technology time and time again. The cloud is just the latest chapter in that story, and one that has yet to fully play itself out.
Although still a relatively young technology, cloud computing has already made a dramatic transformation to the way that we work. It’s happened so quickly, and so naturally, that it’s easy to almost not realize that it has happened.
The most obvious transformation is in access to data. Cloud storage and the devices that can access them, have made accessing documents and communications as seamless as in the office.
The up-shot of this is that being in one physical location – the office – is now no longer as necessary as it once was. That’s not to say the office will be abandoned entirely, most people aren’t suited to the social isolation of working from home, but it means that time traditionally viewed as lost time (in terms of productivity) such as travelling, no longer has to be.
Software as a Service:
The real growth area of cloud computing, and one that is set to revolutionise the entire IT industry is the SaaS industry (Software as a Service).
The traditional ownership model of software where a business must buy a certain number of licences to use in the office which it keeps permanently, will almost certainly go the way of the dodo.
SaaS means paying for access to software, usually in concert with related cloud storage. This gives anyone in the business access to the tools and data they need to do their job anywhere, with little more than a laptop and a browser.
Not only does this further encourage remote and flexible working, but as the dedicated servers etc. are shared amongst a number of businesses, drives cost down to an extent that IT tools once only accessible to big organisations with enough resources to run their own servers are now affordable to small businesses, potentially turning industries upside down by lowering the barriers to access.
One of the most interesting transformations to the way we work is in the combination of cloud and smartphones. Beyond the immediately obvious benefits of integration – updating your calendar wherever you are to remind you at work for example – there are the mobile specific apps that take advantage of the portability of smartphones and the flexibility of the cloud.
Electronic signature capture is a good example, removing the need for a dedicated device and cutting down on filing at the other end. A customer’s signature can be captured, along with any associated data (pictures showing the completed job for example) and uploaded to the appropriate folder in the cloud for immediate access by both customer and business.
Cloud computing is still a relatively immature technology. Its effect on work has already been transformative, and we can only begin to imagine what our work habits will be like in ten years time.
Image source: Wikipedia
Nick Lewis is a technology writer, particularly interested in cloud technology like electronic signature capture.