The reason I think the Cloud market will experience such a huge boom is that it will be accompanied by other equally powerful IT trends.
Indeed they will magnify the benefit of one another, and these overlaps are the ideal sweet spots to provide the context and opportunity for new start-ups.
The overlap between Cloud Computing and an Enterprise 2.0 strategy of ‘socializing enterprise apps’ is this type of focus for our ‘LiveWIRE’ Cloud Venture, a new toolset that overlays across Microsoft Sharepoint and offers the secret sauce potential to dramatically increase sales of hosted Sharepoint offerings.
Mastering Enterprise 2.0 – Socializing enterprise applications
On their own Cloud technologies are still very hot, but ultimately a technical proposition.
Yes virtualization can improve the efficiencies of IT operations, but this is an underlying technical improvement, it doesn’t enhance how the application itself is used to increase Business Value.
In contrast trends like ‘Enterprise 2.0’, the internal adoption of Web 2.0 social media, offers the potential to dramatically change how users interact with software and one another, how organizational structure is achieved and more, and hence offers the potential to drive change in this way.
However to date it’s proven more concept than day to day reality because tools like blogs and wikis still sit outside of the realm of what staff are familiar with or are what is integral to their daily work habits, and so it has remained restricted to a fairly specialist endevour.
The key to this, to maximizing the business benefits of both trends, is the process of ‘socializing enterprise applications‘.
One key activity of the Cloud market is ‘legacy migration’. All those old mainframes are running on very inefficient and obsolete hardware, and so virtualizing them into a Cloud system achieves a modernization that addresses this issue. However again this is a purely technical exercise, it tackles the hardware situation but doesn’t fundamentally improve the application for the user in any way.
Instead, as this SearchCIO article describes the hot trend right now is that the major IT vendors like Cisco are moving into this market with solutions based on “adding a “social layer” atop the spectrum of a worker’s business applications”.
It’s a universal trend happening outside the intranet too. This article explains how Dell is growing sales through ‘Social commerce‘, ie. socializing e-commerce apps the same way.
Sharepoint Private Cloud – Make your email 9x more productive
Other tools and the title ‘Sharepoint Private Cloud’ can further accelerate this uptake.
Andrew McAfee, who originally coined the term Enterprise 2.0, described in this older post the ‘9X challenge‘, which explains that the reason users weren’t adopting internal social media applications in a big way was quite simply they live within their email client and won’t budge from it to try other tools.
Outlook and Blackberries are what corporate workers are lost within 24×7, and any new application that wants to replace them has to be more than 9x better. What this new trend says is why try and take this entrenched position head on, why not simply ‘take the mountain to mohammed’?
The Outlook Social Connector provides a simple but powerful tool to address this issue. In a nutshell don’t ask users to give up email to use social media, integrate social media into their email.
For example like the diagram shows my colleagues can easily see my Linkedin activity directly from within their Outlook email.
As you can see this is embedding social media intelligence into their preferred tool, and it can be further integrated with other Microsoft apps like Lync for ‘Unified Collaboration’ to maximize our team productivity. This would add ‘Click to Collaborate’ options like firing up a VoIP call or desktop video session.
The choice of social sites you can connect to can include your own Sharepoint-based private intranet, so these benefits can be directly applied to your own daily project work, and furthermore with socializing of legacy applications so this could include data surfaced from your CRM, ERP or any other apps too.
This functionality also explains the role of a Sharepoint Private Cloud. Introducing the social connector on this blog they provide a high level overview of the technical layout.
The Social Connector can draw in updates from Linkedin, Facebook, … et al, and one of these social communities can also be your own internal Sharepoint site, so you can enjoy the same benefits but for your own projects and colleagues, within a private context.
Therefore one key point to highlight and explain a bit more on is this Private Cloud aspect.
While the above diagram shows the Sharepoint site is positioned alongside the other sites like Windows Live, Linkedin as yet another social site, in actual fact this as this simple diagram below shows a more accurate way to consider it is part of a tiered model where there’s varying levels of privacy.
Your immediate zone A is your own personal workspace, and while you’re drawing social content from multiple sites, it’s more accurate to understand that while your own company’s Sharepoint site might be hosted in the Cloud via a third-party supplier, it would integrated into your security systems as a Private Cloud. It would operate at zone B whereas all others are zone C.
This combination of tools shows the first dawn rays of sunshine of a new age of IT where user-centricity finally is king and all other apps are integrated and directed towards this.