Every business may benefit from a 'cloudy' future

Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

It won't be long before organizations have access to powerful information technology solutions at low, incremental costs -- that used to only be available to companies with multi-million-dollar data center budgets. But as with any technology shift, it takes smart, adriot management to make the most of the new opportunities that arise.

I recently had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address for ebizQ’s latest Cloud QCamp, which explored the impact of the growing convergence of various information technology initiatives on today's organizations.

In my talk, I explored the four main forces reshaping the way we compute -- and thus increasing the capabilities and agility of our businesses. These include:

1) Cloud computing, in which applications and compute power is drawn from anywhere on the Web;

2) Service oriented architecture, in which complex systems are broken down into digestible shared services;

3) Total enterprise virtualization, in which any and all resources are abstracted into an enterprise service layer for end-users; and

4) Enterprise 2.0, in which businesses benefit from a growing network effect, and engage in online communities.

See the common thread in all four of these?  Systems and applications, anywhere across the globe, are made accessible to end users as they need them. It can be systems within the enterprise, or an application hosted across the ocean. It's all about moving to a service-oriented way of doing business. It's about moving to a Web Oriented Architecture, where goods and services are managed, tracked and provided via connected applications and connected people. Applications and systems are lightweight, and can be assembled, as required, by business end users with little or no technical training.

I also made some predictions in my talk, which I called "half-baked ideas," or HBIs, a term borrowed from management guru Tom Peters.  Looking ahead over the next 12 months, we're clearly emerging out the other side of the recent economic downturn, and business psychology will shift from "hunker down" mode to new growth mode. In this renewed economy, businesses will be looking for ways to reach out to new markets and better understand their own. Web Oriented Architecture and the social network effect are turning business intelligence into “collaborative intelligence.”

There will be plenty of outsourcing of new work to service providers. But outsourcing will also take on a more intelligent cast. Because the Web Oriented Architecture levels the playing field, making technology and resources available at low cost, there will be huge opportunities for small businesses, as well as units of larger organizations to offer new services.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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