Cloudy days…..

Back in 2009 I penned a piece for the User Group about cloud computing. That was 8 years ago and some of the same discussions are still being held.

The fact of the matter though is that cloud computing is being provided to all of us every day in nearly everything we do today. It’s interesting how things go through cycles – fashion being one of the most obvious ones. But in computing we had the mainframe, essentially a screen connected to a central computer somewhere, then we went client server where some of the compute was taking place on the client machine with server largely being a data repository. And now we have cloud where there are 2 schools operating – the browser to cloud, and the app to cloud. The browser to cloud is so similar to mainframe!

But the obsession with cloud computing obscures what is really going on. The digital revolution. It’s as big as the so called “Industrial Revolution”. What is the Digital revolution? The best way to describe this is to consider the concept of analogue television to digital television. In analogue days you watched it now, if you didn’t you missed it and there were 4 channels. In digital days you can watch it now, replay it, store it – watch it on tablets, phones, computers and TV’s on hundreds of channels. And therefore the choice moves from the provider to the consumer.

So there is a digital transformation underway, aided by ever cheaper and more powerful technology. The internet has provided a backbone to connect everything, and I mean everything. And this digital capability is no longer confined to business, it’s in the home, it’s in your school, it’s everywhere. In fact the digital transformation is being demanded and shaped by the consumer, not business.

This key change, where the consumer leads, is sadly not understood by everyone. Businesses can no longer drive, they have to predict. They have to establish intelligence that sets them up in the way the consumer demand is going to go. Only the very lucky will be able to pull the customer along with them.

And this is now 365/24 – the always on and available culture that is becoming the norm. There will be some brakes in the ecosystem – internet availability – cabling and fibre are likely to be surpassed by mobile with 5G on its way giving mobile 1GB per second speeds along with 5ms response speed. And then people – and this is the part that seems to get overlooked.

For some areas people will actually not want an always on culture – most likely in the work arena. All work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull people, so expect some legislation starting to segregate work and home life.

This people culture change is the largest of the black holes in the digital transformation roadmap. No longer can companies dictate to their staff that this is what is going to change from upon high if they want success. It has to be a hearts and minds approach, so if you are starting your digital transformation then you need to have proper people change management strategies and processes in place. Ignore this at your peril.

Now remember I said that the consumer was leading this transformation? That is also something you have to understand. The consumer is split into many groups, by ability to change, willingness to change, and fear of change. These are not always age related but can be……… So you have several streams to contend with which is why I believe there will be hybrid solutions primarily adopted out there. The same inevitably applies to your own workforce.

Some companies get it….I’m quite impressed with the Digital Eagles campaign. So yes Barclays are being nice to their customers to help them get digital, but it’s really about them having recognised that to get their consumers through their (Barclays) digital transformation they need to help them. Change management!

This Digital Revolution is the biggest change to our world since the Industrial revolution. And it offers so much to so many….if it is done properly.