Bridget van Kralingen, a Senior VP for IBM said “Data will be the source of competitive advantage, the cloud will be the basis of business models, and engagement will be the way in which companies get customers and employees.”

We are moving into a form of Cloud 3.0, where it is more than a place to store our documents, Instagram our pictures or snap our chats. The cloud will be the foundation on which business models are constructed; and the predominate delivery system for products and services.  The cloud reduces time to market and provides unparalleled scale[i].  It may be the most disruptive of technologies because it has the potential to unleash the true promise of the internet, the opportunity to channel all of the world’s people and resources in ways that have been unimaginable.

It has been suggested that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 12 months. Data is ubiquitous; and its power is only now becoming understood. Yet most entrepreneurial companies have a significant disadvantage, they do not have the capabilities to synthesize and analyze data combined from multiple sources (big data).

From Airbnb to Zillow and Uber, the examples of disruptive cloud technologies are almost tiresome. But within these examples we can find a stark realization; that in every market the technologists are going to win, because their platforms and networks are so robust that most old world models are going to fold like a bad tent. Even if your business is not big enough to disrupt a market, you had better know where the disruption is coming from.

Yet the majority of American businesses (and consumers for that matter) don’t have a clue how to leverage the confusing network of data points available to us on a daily basis. It is for that reason we must invest in technologies that integrate data. Imagine the world when the disparate systems (such as Salesforce and QuickBooks) in such companies can talk to each other, and provide useful information from which managers can make real world decisions.

For example, employers are starving for talent. Large employers have already implemented bots to search resumes for desired phrases and eliminate the pretenders. The cloud will allow such technologies to search social media for other insights, and conduct background checks in real time, at low cost, before a candidate is even considered. The confluence of this data will provide a leg up for employers who can pivot faster.

There are similar efforts to combine accounting, sales and marketing, engineering and production data points in small and mid-size businesses, attempting to close the gap on large businesses whose powerful ERP systems provide them access to streams of data.

As we unearth the promise of cloud technologies, companies will have to think of IT as an investment and not a cost. We must stretch out thinking in the construction of new business models that garner the power of data, and provide the opportunity to redefine engagement with customers and employees.



[i] The Cloud Drives a New Wave of Disruption by Charles Cooper