DECODING THE BASICS OF CLOUD COMPUTING

“The cloud has become the next-generation supercomputer, and the smartphone has provided the revolution to spur its use.”

Jerry Yang, Founder of Yahoo!

The world of Information technology is constantly bursting with innovative and upcoming ideas of cutting-edge technologies. With this rise, it becomes overwhelming to constantly be updated on the latest technology. Most of us are not fully equipped to understand the nitty-gritties of every launch.

Cloud Computing can be one such technology that has emerged as the next big thing in the IT world. Most of us are unknowingly using cloud services like online banking, social networks, Dropbox, emails.

Cloud computing in simple terms is defined as a type of Internet-based computing, where different services including servers, storage and applications are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the internet. Google’s Gmail is one such Cloud Computing provider. Gmail clients can access documents and applications facilitated by Google through the web from any gadget.

Gone are the days when data was simply stored on a computer’s local hard drive. The data in the cloud is stored on numerous physical and additionally virtual servers that are facilitated by a third-party service provider. The most common cloud computing file storage provider is Dropbox. Dropbox files can be accessed from any device via the Internet.

To understand this technology better, let’s have a look at some of the key features of Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is an on-demand service like pay per click (PPC) that has secured its position in corporate data centers. The cloud enables the data center to operate like the Internet and computing resources to be accessed and shared as virtual resources in a secure and scalable manner.

There are some important concerns that one should not avoid before relying on the service. One of them is choosing the accurate form of Cloud Computing:

Cloud Computing Service Models:

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) allows developers and organizations to use business specific applications developed by third parties allowing vendor to host both the application and the data, making the end user free to use the services from anywhere.

Types of services provided – email, inventory control, data base processing.

The service level coverage provided includes – application uptime and performance.

Some examples – Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Netflix.

  • PaaS (Platform as a Service) provides users with software development tools that are hosted on a cloud provider’s infrastructure.

Types of services provided – cloud storage, integration.

The service level coverage provided includes – environment availability, environment performance and non-application coverage.

Some examples – Google App Engine, Windows Azure, Force.com, AWS Elastic.

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provides users with networks, storage, virtualized servers and systems software that gives all the functionalities of an entire data center.

Types of services provided – cloud storage, virtual server.

The service level coverage provides includes – virtual server availability, time to provision and no-platform or application coverage.

Some examples – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco Metapod, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE).

Major Cloud Solutions:

  1. Public Cloud Solution is shared by thousands of customers worldwide and is available to anyone on the Internet. Benefits include – easiest and most cost-effective cloud strategy to employ.
  2. Private Cloud Solution is either propriety network or a data center that provides hosted services to just a single customer. Benefits include – no restrictions of network bandwidth, security vulnerabilities and legal concerns that utilizing a public cloud might encompass.
  3. Hybrid Cloud Solution allows you to keep all of your secure data in a private cloud setting, while getting high usability of mobile and web-based access to corporate applications. Benefits include – combination of a public and private cloud, has advantages of both so considered best of both worlds and it is ideal for a bulk of businesses.

“I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.”

Steve Jobs, Late Chairman and Co-Founder of Apple

As stated in 2016 ITA Cloud Computing Top Markets Report, India boasts of 250 million people with web-connected devices, which generally rely on cloud services for applications and other functionality, the key drivers are faster internet penetration and smartphone adoption rates.” It is also expected that high rates of spending on cloud services in India will continue through 2019 when the market is expected to reach $1.9 billion.

Cloud Computing can therefore, bring out a new ray of hope for Indian SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises). But before an organization decides that it will embrace cloud computing, it needs to make sure that it understands all the implications of this new offering.

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of Cloud Computing that will not only aid individuals but also the business sectors:

Along with understanding the benefits, the business risks must also be evaluated. There are some shortcomings to cloud computing, specifically in online storage and client applications. For instance, an organization operating cloud computing to host its email, calendars, document editing and other applications can be shut down, if a cloud hosting company experiences downtime. The other aspect to lookout for is security, that could be breached. As in the case of any other technology, cloud computing is also not foolproof.

Barring some of the limitations, cloud computing has the potential to change the way organizations view and deal with IT needs. As the private and government sectors incessantly look for ways to cut expenses, cloud is an approach that needs to be evaluated.

With the new cloud technologies growing exponentially, there will be a day when we will all be using Cloud Computing and In-house IT hosting as well as desktop computing may become a thing of the past.

Is Social Media an Answer to All Our Communication Woes?

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”

David Alston

Gone are the days when social media platforms were meant to be used as a form of entertainment or simply a recreational activity. Now social media is a platform through which people do business, organizations use it to promote their brand, it’s a medium through which people voice out their opinions, interact with each other on both personal and professional levels. But is social media a key to resolve all our communication problems? Is it feasible?

Social media has completely transformed the system of doing business. Each and every industry, however big or small are using various social media applications and websites to promote their business. Product and service launches, CSR, PR have acquired a brand-new look because of the social media platform. A lot of instant publicity is garnered through this medium.

“Social Media puts the PUBLIC into PR and the MARKET into marketing.”

Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, chrisbrogan.com

Here are some of the popular social media platforms that are widely used across the world.

  • Media Sharing Networks – Instagram, Youtube, Flickr
  • Relationship based Networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
  • Social Publishing Platforms – Twitter, WordPress
  • Discussion Forums – Quora, Reddit, Digg
  • Bookmarking Sites – Pinterest, Flipboard
  • Interest-Based Networks – Goodreads, Soundcloud

These diverse forms of social media platforms have given a new face to the modern-day communication. Businesses from varied sectors are thriving and reaching newer heights because of these applications and websites. Networking and socializing all over the globe have not only become immensely popular but also a convenient tool.

Social media has undoubtedly brought about a huge change in the world of generic communication, bringing news and knowledge from around the globe, connecting people from everywhere, but unfortunately it has still not paved the way for regular interaction on an individual level and has a very generalist approach.

The other major factor in demoting social media is privacy. Most organizations have very sensitive data, marketing plans and strategies, tender quotations, etc. which are highly confidential and they follow a confidentiality norm with their respective clients. So, in such a scenario, the use of social media is very limited.

Sharing any confidential information on social media platforms either on a professional level or on a personal level becomes a huge source of risk as privacy is often violated. Privacy and interpersonal relationship, both professional and personal still thrives on face to face interaction.

“Privacy is dead, and social media hold the smoking gun.”

Pete Cashmore, Mashable CEO

Social media also poses a curse in disguise by creating a sense of addiction for people to have an active presence on social media either through constant uploading of status messages and pictures or tweets or sharing their opinions on forums and blogs. Having a large number of friends and followers on social media platforms give a sense of false pride but in reality, how many of us actually interact with them on a personal level?

Social media platforms have come very close to facilitate interpersonal communication. But the need for physical presence, privacy, face to face interaction outweigh all the new-age features and functions like Virtual Reality (VR) and video calling that these applications and websites offer.

 With the advancement of technology, we hope that it would bridge all the gaps and end all our communication woes. But as of now social media does not provide a fool proof solution to end our communication glitches.

DIGITAL DISRUPTION IN PROFESSIONAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

“There is nothing constant except change and this change is inevitable.”

The only thing constant throughout diverse industries is the ever-changing digital technology. Every industrial sector especially, Professional Services Industries are witnessing an emerging trend of innovative digital platforms. For various sectors like IT consulting firms, banking, finance, retail or even legal sectors, the challenging time is the increase in the use of new age digital freelance platforms and the cumulative use of Artificial Intelligence.

Root cause of inequality is the mass scale digital disruption advantage as means of wealth creation is concentrated.

Ziad K. Abdelnour

The term ‘Digital Disruption’ is not only applicable to consumer-facing or asset-intensive industries, it implies to various other professional services industries. These days, most B2B industries come forward to implement digital technologies that transforms their business, from consumer engagement to operations to enterprise processes. They also feature prominent illustrations of digital disruptors making incumbents irrelevant in a short span of time.

B2B service industry segments, have traditionally always been labor-intensive (Consulting, Audit & Tax; IT & BPO Services; Multi-Services; Engineering & Technical services; Staffing, Temporary Labor). That makes them far less exposed to disruption. And yet, major change is happening in that industry, with newcomers prompting established players to reinvent the way they do business.

As digitalization and increasing competition witness markets across the world becoming susceptible to disruption, the services industries are often engaged by clients to best harness disruptive tendencies. However, the sector is no exception to this unpredictability and several factors are responsible in causing disruption in these industries.

One of the major contributor in triggering disruption in the service industries is globalization. The world has become smaller due to globalization leading to a surge in adoption of outsourcing. Organizations all over are leveraging technology to create models that provide value to customers at affordable rates. In a bid to tackle their shortage of human resources, some firms are resorting to using flexible work conditions and outsourcing the talents of independents for individual cases.

Customers now expect more value, higher quality of work, and a faster delivery of solutions and services. They are also asking for more transparency and accountability in work delivered. This leads to major competition in the digital world.

In today’s B2C sector, customer service functions have been extensively automated. Individual customers have the convenience of using applications and websites all on their fingertips. In comparison to that, the B2B services industries are still lagging.

Numerous professional service employees in the B2B sectors, assess their workforce structure as a hindrance to success in relation to the steadily extensive workload of these organizations. This requires a transformation in resourcing models. Due to the dearth of vital resources and skills required to deliver that work, many organizations had to turn down work.

In the Professional Services Industries, there a few glitches and obstacles currently that include the complexity and criticality of problems to be solved, as well as the perceived importance of a human connection. With further advancement of technology, the existing scenario would be modified immensely. But then again it is not possible for any product or customer experience be digitized with little or no negative impact on customer satisfaction.

Globally, most clients of consulting firms have a more practical understanding about assessing the jobs they need done, which is driving humongous transformation in professional services industries. The outdated mode of compensation to employees, wherein the number of hours performed by the employee were taken into consideration has become almost obsolete. In today’s current times, B2B clients are increasingly expected to pay for immediate outcomes. Consequently, many professional service industries have started outsourcing their workload as well as hiring freelancers for specific work projects.

The “industrialization of services” driven by technology enables providers to dramatically reduce costs and cycle times for their services. Technologies such as Machine Learning will likely impact services activities the same way as automation and robotics impacted manufacturing. Even though the extent of human labor involvement is not completely ruled out, it promises a scope of human labor replacement.

Along with cost optimization, digitization also permits new revenue streams as demonstrated by technology-based analytics and tools that consulting firms can embed at a client, providing ongoing engagement outside the traditional project-based model. Hence, digitization or automation aims at substantially undercutting the cost model of the traditional business.

To gain entry in Professional services industries is not that difficult as they have negligible barriers. In these industries, manpower is the foremost production input that make it possible to enter the market instantaneously.

Technology is altering the very nature of the business all over the world. That is the chief reason behind digital disruption in professional services industries. Irrespective of their sub-industry or scale, incumbents need to change as new competitors come in the market.

There is cut throat competition in the digital world, as technology is ever changing and reforming. With newer ground-breaking technology developments like Machine Learning, Big Date, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) posing a possible threat to professional services industries, most of the professional services firms are undergoing a major transformation. These new-age technology developments on the rise are gradually enabling the reinvention of older business models and traditional industry offerings.

The totality of these major trends mean that the professional services world is undergoing a period of the utmost important renovation. While customers are more demanding of speed, quality andagility from service providers, new, lean, digitally capable challengers are emerging in the sector and resourcing models are being disrupted. These compounding pressures are driving significant transformation, pushing professional services providers into a new era of services delivery.

Digital disruption has now become an unfortunate reality for Professional Services Industries globally. This segment is directly affected by competition from digital and data-savvy companies in the markets leading to a change that is inevitable. With data driven products and services or by collaborating with digital-savvy firms, many organizations in the professional services industries can fend off the disruption by becoming disruptors themselves.