Data Is Location-Agnostic

Thoughts on cloud computing, ubiquitous technology, and data quality.

Cloud computing is all the rage these days–and not just for newfangled startups. Even mature enterprise vendors are on board. Case in point: Microsoft’s latest version of its flagship Office doesn’t require CDs and 20-digit registration codes. You only need an Internet connection.

If that doesn’t signal a tectonic shift in technology, then I don’t know what does. Cloud computing is going mainstream. Deal with it.

Truth be told, many consumers are using cloud services and they probably don’t even know it. Netflix streaming services run off of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Google Drive, DropBox, and other non-Office productivity tools run off of “the cloud.”

So, just how big is cloud computing? Gartner Research reports that:

Consumers spend over $2 trillion a year on content, devices, and services, and the emergence of personal clouds reflects their desire to access content on any device without complications or restrictions. Business leaders must meet consumers’ cloud expectations in order to win customers in 2012.

Of course, most of us never give architectural considerations like those much thought. And, in a way, that’s the point of the cloud and mobility. Consumers don’t want to have to go home to read or send an email, look at a spreadsheet, and the like. We just want things to be easy.

Data Doesn’t Care

Now many consumers are also employees–or prosumers. When we go to work, we switch hats. We worry less about watching movies and more about work–or at least we should. In either case, though, we’re using the cloud more and more.

Organizations that fail to embrace new technologies can no longer expect customers to wait for them.

Professionally speaking, don’t for a minute think that the cloud is some type of elixir. Internal politics, broken business practices, and data quality issues don’t magically go away just because you moved from an on-premise CRM application to Salesforce.com. In cases like this, you’re just making your existing data and application more accessible; you’re not fixing underlying issues that make your business suffer.

In other words, data is location-agnostic. It’s not purified when it moves to the cloud. There’s no omniscient filter that prevents mistakes just because it comes from an iPad or iPhone, not a traditional desktop or laptop.

Simon Says

The Consumerization of IT means that businesses have to meet customers, not the other way around. It’s not 1997 or even 2007. Organizations that fail to embrace new technologies like cloud computing can no longer expect customers to wait for them. (Hence, Microsoft’s move.)

Once you “arrive” at the cloud, though, expect the same problems, especially with your data.

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I wrote this post as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program. It provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise, and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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