While the majority of conference delegates we interviewed told ZDNet's impromptu focus group cloud was highly important to their business, a couple of interviews see it as less strategic than other technologies.
Jonathan Bent, senior commercial manager at AMP was among the majority: "Cloud is very important to AMP…we've invested heavily in it, and on a scale of one to ten I would say cloud is probably eight or nine. We're doing more and more, it's the future, it's helping our business to transform, and we hope to take that journey successfully."
Bent's colleague, AMP commercial manager, Claire Thomson, says the importance of cloud is: "definitely 10 for AMP, it's a big focus area for us. We do have a cloud program that's been implemented, and implemented in way that we didn't foresee when we first went into the project."
"We had an idea in our heads of what it would look like when we went into the RFP, and then we had suppliers come to us with their bigger, broader ideas of how they could develop it…and we ended up going down a track that would allow us to grow and flex a lot more than we thought was possible."
National IT manager at e.law international, Imran Khan, agrees. Cloud is "very important…for our business." Khan reckons some early limitations of cloud, like security and reliability, are being addressed. He says one of the most important cloud capabilities is it lets you: "increase your infrastructure on the fly and you don't have to spend a lot of money on that."
Sandeep Baruah, sales director at customer engagement outfit 7 says for his business cloud is "very, very important…I'd put it on a scale of 9 out of 10…it really changes the game from what it currently is, it can be a big disruptive influence on existing business models as well…it allows companies to be innovative, to be flexible, and to move quickly, and to meet their customer needs."
Amidst the cloud-love at the conference, some delegates offered dissenting views.
Joe Mizzi, infrastructure & contract manager at Boral, is one who is less gung-ho about cloud: "Cloud just gives us a different way of doing infrastructure IT…mobility is the real disrupter because it means people can get stuff wherever they are, they can be…sitting in a movie and getting information…sitting in a dinner with their partner and getting information."
However, Mizzi also thinks businesses need to be better able to exploit disruptive technologies in a more controlled manner: "We need to work out how to actually control the disruption these technologies get to be effective. I think we're losing effectiveness."
Tom Higgins, head of onetech direct insurance, part of IAG, reckons we're not thinking nearly far enough ahead in planning for new technologies.
Reflecting on the importance of technologies like cloud, mobility and data, Higgins reckons another technology has potentially wider impact: "If you said in the long-term, I think you missed a key technology, which is robotics. And analytics…between both of these two things you're going to get a completely different response in the future. We sort of know that somewhere between 2021 and 2025 autonomous car is going to arrive. People talk about Uber, but Uber is just a transitory stage…people aren't really thinking about the future, they're thinking about the near future."
"If you said today what's the most important technology I'd say it's digital," added Higgins "but I don't think it is the most important. Robotics is the next game-changer, it's the thing that's going to really change everything…the future is out there, it's around us, it's about us pulling the signal out of the noise."