The opportunities presented by adopting Cloud computing are manifold and transformational for many organisations. The flexibility, scalability, and agility, not just of the technology, but the business processes that the Cloud can enable, have proven invaluable and go some way to explaining the escalating popularity and the rapid pace of adoption of this IT delivery model. From our 2015 UK research project, UK Cloud adoption snapshot & trends for 2016, we know that 84 per cent of UK organisations have adopted at least one Cloud service (up from just 48 per cent in 2010), and that penetration within businesses is increasing quickly. Moreover, 96 per cent of UK large enterprises have already deployed some Cloud services and most are now broadening their deployments.
The same can’t, however, be said for the phenomena of the Internet of Things (IoT and Big Data). Although they are being applied in the world of business and have the potential to drive profound changes in the way that we work, they are yet to reach critical mass in the same way that Cloud has. In a sense, the links between the three make this inevitable; you can’t begin to explore the value of Big Data without Cloud, and the Internet of Things depends on being able to analyse and sort vast amounts of data (in other words, Big Data).
More accurately, you can’t begin to explore the IoT and Big Data in a way that is economically viable without Cloud. We have been speaking about the IoT and Big Data for quite some time and while businesses largely recognise the value of these technologies they have been, up until very recently, the reserve of only the largest enterprises with enough available capital to invest in the computing resources needed to power them. Cloud, which grants the opportunity to successfully rent these flexible and scalable resources, while avoiding the need for big up-front capital investments, effectively democratises the IoT and Big Data and lowers the barriers to entry for all organisations and SMEs looking to exploit these technologies.
As an aside, the industry may be better served by dropping the “Big” as all data must be at the core of customer engagement and business processes in large Enterprises. The Cloud has a role to play here, particularly as the power of analytics enables all businesses to have access to enterprise class technologies.
A few years ago it was difficult to have a conversation about Cloud without someone immediately asking the question, “But is it secure?” I’d contend that we’ve somewhat moved on from that. Yes, people are concerned about the security of their data, but Cloud isn’t seen as inherently less secure than on-premises IT; more something that should and can be managed. Indeed, if Cloud weren’t secure, it wouldn’t have reached its current heights.
But ultimately this is not strictly a Cloud security issue, but a data security one, and it’s important to get the fundamentals right. Our advice with any Cloud deployment is to understand what is needed, and why. Is local sovereignty important, purely for confidence or for regulatory requirements? What accreditations are important to you? Make sure you are asking the right questions of your Cloud provider: Where will the data be stored? Who has access to it? What security mechanisms are in place to protect it? Have you certified against a relevant code of conduct to demonstrate your credentials? Good Cloud security starts with choosing the right provider, which is why we established the CIF Code of Practice for CSPs to help in the selection process.
Arguably, businesses pursuing IoT technologies should prudently consider security to ensure they are managing vulnerabilities. More internet-enabled devices and end points equates to more avenues from which to harvest data. Manufacturers of IoT devices, and users of them, will need to take a ‘belts and braces’ approach to security if these technologies are to take off.
As with any IT delivery project most time should be spent on the planning and design phase but only once there is a clear end goal in mind. Big Data, IoT and Cloud are unquestionably the next generation of technology that many businesses will be moving towards, but as with all technology projects it has to be based on solving a real business problem in a service driven environment. Don’t look to shoe horn a solution into place, rely on your accredited service provider and work collaboratively. 56 per cent of end users we surveyed said Cloud brings them competitive advantage, so when further combining with Big Data and IoT there is real differentiation available to deliver new and innovative solutions.
Coaching and mentoring as styles of leadership and management are buzz words at business schools all around the world in the twenty first century. Good leadership used to be thought to exist in the character of the leader. Contemporary thinking holds that it resides only in the quality of the relationship between the leader and the led. Received wisdom now believes that great leadership listens and responds to the aspirations and concerns of employees. It understands that true engagement cannot be ‘pushed’ down the line, but has to be ‘pulled’ together with the individuals involved. This does not make leadership skills any less important in the steering of a company to success – only that those skills must be different and tailored to the demands of gen flux if the value that they can create is to be harnessed.
Leaders who do this well create a culture that allows ambiguity, is excited by change and allows mistakes. Most importantly of all they create a culture in which learning is an everyday occurrence, where organisational agility provides dynamic competitive advantage keeping both gen flux individuals, and investors happy.