Could-based productivity services offered by companies like Dropbox, Box.net, Salesforce, and Google represent where we’re headed in terms of social interaction and productivity in business, education, you name it. After all, cloud-based services and products offer access to our content from anywhere we can find an Internet connection.
However, as cool as cloud computing is to me, generations Y and Z, and the more technically inclined individuals I’ve met, many of my friends and family haven’t embraced cloud-based productivity services. To them, these services seem to represent a concept that’s literally outside of the box, and in turn, outside of their grasp. Maybe that’s the problem, the cloud itself is essentially a virtual concept that differs greatly from the concrete computing hardware and software that they’ve become accustomed to, the ones they can hold in their hands.I recently read a white paper from IBM directed toward dispelling the vapor around cloud computing. It broke clouds down into three categories:
- Public – cloud-based services provided to the general public by governments, companies, etc.
- Private – cloud-based services provided to employees over a company’s Intranet
- Hybrid – cloud-based services and local computing applications share a more integrated role
It’s the 3rd category, Hybrid, that seems to represent what the general public can handle when it comes to being more productive in the cloud.
Earlier this year, Apple announced iCloud–a service that “stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all of your devices.” Basically, you have your data in your hands via an iPhone, iPad, etc., but your photos, contacts, calendar, documents, email, books, apps, and music are automatically synced with the cloud, making them accessible from anywhere–another idevice, a desktop or laptop computer, or even the Internet. iCloud is basically a hybrid service that allows us to be productive in two worlds.
It’s this hybrid app-to-cloud syncing concept that could help transition the general public into the cloud-based productivity as a whole; this is how it always is. Whether it be day-planners to Palm Pilots, print manuals to online help, or classroom training to elearning, people are generally slow to adopt new productivity concepts. They need a transitional period that will help them wrap their heads around a new concept in order to get comfortable with it. Cloud-based productivity tools are no different.
Web-based email proved to be a nice introduction, and business services offered by Facebook, Twitter, and now Microsoft have played key roles. Given a little more time (and a few more “to the cloud” ads by Microsoft), the general public will warm up to cloud-based productivity services and grab that concept that drifted outside of their box firmly in their hands.