As we head into 2020, speculation, predictions and technology foresight are everywhere. But when it comes to cloud technology, we have a slightly different take.

Because cloud computing has become so indiscernible from our everyday existence, speaking about its future as a standalone technology, doesn’t always make sense. This is because no other technology has seen such rapid adoption across both the business and consumer sphere.

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Transforming society

What is the future of our society? What does it look like, and what does cloud have to do with it? Cloud will be a huge driving force in the futurisation of towns, workplaces, institutions and people, because it will provide the digital infrastructure of tomorrow’s smart cities (where an estimated 68% of the world’s population will live by 2050 ).

Our cities are becoming smarter, but each new connected device creates data which has to be stored and analysed. It will only be possible to support connected technology at this scale, with a combination of edge technology and cloud computing. With this digital infrastructure in place, smart elevators and parking lots, driverless cars and drone taxis, trains and subways, farms and power plants will all be part of the functioning fabric of everyday life.

The cloud will also support emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and help them to adapt to new platforms such as mobile. As example, while AI has already found its way onto mobile phones, these devices contain lots of unstructured data such as emails, text messages and photos. Analysing unstructured data takes time and processing power that most smartphones don’t have locally. With cloud powering the computing, we can expect our phones to become even smarter.

Transforming business

Cloud has become indispensable for businesses. One of the key reasons for this is how it has impacted innovation. Without the need for physical infrastructure, and the operational and labour costs that come with it, cloud technology removes the typical financial barriers to innovation and digital transformation. Smaller businesses who would traditionally struggle to come up with the upfront investment required for on-premise implementations, can access new technology through cloud delivery models.

Meanwhile, cloud has also reduced the risks associated with investment. Expensive, rigid contracts can be a barrier for many smaller companies. The scalability of cloud computing means offerings can grow or shrink back depending on the needs of the company, helping to manage costs and financial risk. These flexible, cloud-based models will continue to grow in popularity, with predictions stating that by the end of 2020, all new companies and 80% of historical vendors will offer subscription-based business models .

Cloud computing also encourages innovation because its speed makes it easy to experiment with new ideas, as feedback can be gathered quickly. If a strategy isn’t working it can be corrected quickly, rather than waiting until it has failed to take stock and learnings. This allows businesses to innovate more freely.

Meanwhile, if businesses spot opportunities within the market, a cloud infrastructure allows them to respond and harness these opportunities more rapidly. With so much opportunity in the cloud, businesses will continue to transition, with the worldwide public cloud services market projected to grow 17.5% in 2019 alone, with no sign of abating .

Impacting information

At the heart of every businesses is information. How we access it, harness it and share it is closely tied to how successful any organisation can be. And this is where cloud has truly made an impact. Thanks to cloud, business workers are no longer tied to the office and can access information and collaborate on projects from anywhere in the world, in real-time. This has revolutionised business models.

For example, European company OpenDesk, uploads furniture designs to the cloud and lets customers download the designs and commission a local manufacturer to build it in their region. This lowers shipping and inventory costs, while reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

Cloud-based platforms have also enabled businesses to be more efficient. As organisations grow they tend to become ever more siloed, with teams evolving idiosyncratic ways of working and ways of sharing information. Cloud helps companies bridge the gap, allowing all workers to access one place for everything they need. This also makes it more straightforward to create cross-company workflows, where before workers might have doubled up or lost sight of documents as they progressed.

Data deluge

An irony of all of this is that the more we use cloud solutions, the more we need them. The so-called ‘data deluge’ can be attributed to how much we access cloud-based services in our daily lives. Using online systems, social networking, sharing videos, capturing traffic flow, collaborating with colleagues – these all add up to vast quantities of data each person and each business generates for themselves and it doesn’t even touch on the data created by healthcare, education, science and the military. All this information needs computing power to manage, store and analyse it – for which we need cloud.

This is why talking about the future of cloud is so erroneous – what we really need to be talking about is the future of society and the future of business. The future of our cities, our workplaces and institutions are heavily dependent on cloud technology and this will only become truer, as more services go serverless and digital infrastructures become more advanced. It is not enough to say that the future of cloud is heading in a certain direction. Rather, it would be more correct to make predictions about the future of humanity, society and business and how cloud technology will rise to meet those challenges.

Source: Content supplied by Canon