If we set aside for a moment, as far as possible, the marketing and the hype around the Cloud: what does this technology essentially mean? I am a great admirer of Antoine de Saint Exupéry and one of his many quotes strikes a particular chord: "all human action develops from the primitive to the complicated to the simple". This maxim can be applied to everything, from evolution to technology. Even in private life, it can be applied directly and consistently. What does this have to do with Cloud Computing and what does it imply? Very simple: the Cloud is no more or no less than the next natural stage of IT evolution. And there are good reasons for it.
Let us pause to examine IT costs, for example: customers no longer want to pay for license costs in advance but only in direct proportion to their effective use of the technology. This phenomenon does not only concern the IT sector. Think of the car market: fewer and fewer people are willing to buy a car. They lease them or, more recently, use them only when really needed – through car-sharing. Sales of music on vinyl or CD have also suffered a sharp decline. Songs are downloaded from the Internet or, more recently, streamed to devices.
Customers everywhere need the same thing: technology must be simple. At the same time, complexity is constantly increasing, and this trend will not change. Currently the development activity of almost all high-tech product suppliers boils down to a single question: how can I present increasingly complex technologies to customers as clearly as possible? The answer: manufacturers must invest more and more in the "dumbing-down" of their applications. They must concentrate on the crucial points, the most relevant aspects.
In the field of IT: the CIOs of many companies must resolve this equation. The simplest way to save on IT budgets and keep the IT scenario transparent and efficient is through standardisation. Yet this leads to a genuine conflict of interest in highly specialist sectors where individualisation is still a mantra. Irreconcilable? Not when Cloud technology is used appropriately and correctly.
Consider the analogy of your smartphone: would you say this is a highly standardised industrial product, an undifferentiated commodity, of which millions of copies exactly like yours are sold around the world? The answer is "yes". But is it not also, at the same time, an extremely personal tool that meets your own very personal needs due to its high level of configurability and the use of apps? The answer is "yes" in this case too. Sophisticated and complex technology has become both more user-friendly and more customisable for individual users.
This evolution is reflected in the IT world through the development and spread of Cloud applications. What are the repercussions of all this on corporate applications? To understand this, it is useful to consider how great application developers, such as SAP, operate these days. A fundamental dictat for developers is "mobile first", meaning that applications must be designed primarily for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Primarily does not, however, mean exclusively, but simply that the applications studied must also be usable on mobile devices.
This might not sound particularly revolutionary, but it marks a huge paradigm shift, because the usable area is much smaller and should ideally be controllable with fingers and without too many text commands. For developers, transferring this usability to corporate applications is a tricky challenge. It forces the app-developers from SAP & Co. to see things in a new light.
The consequences are positive for their customers: they can obtain, use and change all relevant new information faster and more easily, even when they are on the move. A good graphic interface also helps speed up information compression. This way of processing information also makes it possible to save on IT infrastructures. It ensures a high level of scalability, which can only be good news for finance managers.
If a corporate management pins its expectations on a new Cloud solution and introduces it correctly, the company can derive significant benefit in terms of flexibility and IT cost planning. Last but not least, its employees will be much more motivated to use new applications instead of the old ones.
We should see Cloud computing for what it is: the natural next evolutionary step in the path from the primitive through the complicated to the simple. Or in the words of Antoine de Saint Exupéry: “Do not give me what I want, but what I need”.