Enough with the bad news already. Enough with the plummeting TSX and the tumbling dollar and the soaring despair. What happened to the good stuff, anyway?
In fact, the looming cloud heralding the next stage of corporate computing, the same one that’s sent nervous naysayers into all manner of anxious fits, has a broad silver lining that these fretful types probably haven’t considered.
In a blessedly optimistic editorial published in late October, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Thomas L. Friedman makes the point that the oppressive economic climate currently shrouding the United States is actually conducive to bursts of creativity like no other time in recent memory. And this advancement will unfold, in large part, courtesy of the supremely affordable and eminently functional resource that is cloud computing.
The latest phase in the IT revolution, he says, is being driven by the convergence of social media with the proliferation of cheap wireless connectivity and Web-enabled smartphones—all of it operating under the facilitating miracle that is the cloud. The thousands of software applications stored in this cyber cell transform our handhelds into extraordinarily powerful devices that confer on their users the potential for unprecedented innovation. The cloud has lowered the barriers to entry like nothing else.
Specifically, goes the argument, this technology shift will clear the way for new companies of all stripes, from insurance brokerages to medical labs, to dip into a nominally priced technological asset and borrow its overarching infrastructure to create from within. With this exceedingly useful tool, entrepreneurs can find their feet more cheaply and easily than they could even five years ago. Where previous eras required serious commitments of capital toward promotion, real estate, labour and technology to establish an operation, the cloud has removed a substantial chunk from the imperatives. The savings to be realized from employing a cloud solution rather than the traditional means and their attendant call for application servers, database servers, various on-premise applications and a slew of expensive IT personnel are genuinely meaningful for a startup. The cloud’s arrival in our midst has delivered supercomputing powers to the masses and, said Friedman in an earlier column, produced a “DIY economy.”
As Friedman describes in this editorial, Marc Benioff, the founder of cloud-based software provider Salesforce.com, this phase of the IT revolution might be summed up with the acronym SOCIAL: S for “speed,” O for “open,” C for “collaboration, I for “individuals,” A for “alignment” and L for “leadership.”
“The emergence of the cloud,” goes the piece, “means than anyone can have the computing resources of Google and rent it by the hour. This is speeding up everything—innovation, product cycles and competition.”