Cloud Computing Trends: Where is the Cloud Headed Next?

Cloud adoption has been quick and painless at the consumer level. For instance, everyone’s on Gmail, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis yet most think nothing of the fact that they’re already using cloud-based services. Small businesses have also discovered how cloud solutions have raised efficiency in the workplace up a notch or two, while also bringing about significant cost savings. Cloud applications, particularly those for communication, file sharing, office software, backup and storage, and customer management, have rapidly grown in usage among SMBs.

In the same manner, large corporations are starting to see the potential of moving some of their IT department, whether its infrastructure or network management, to the cloud. By all indications it would seem that whether we are ready for it or not, cloud computing technology is here for the long haul.

So where is the cloud headed to next? In this post we examine the trends in the world of cloud computing and what likely lies in store in the near future for cloud users.

Focus on Security

Security has always been a key concern in the cloud computing industry and this will not go away anytime soon. If anything, data security in the cloud will only get to be in the limelight even more as cloud adopters grow in number. That’s why we expect professional cloud services providers to start implementing measures that will help slowly build up confidence in cloud security.

We should soon see more advanced security techniques and protocols that would increase the overall level of privacy and protection for cloud-stored information. Tighter security for login encryptions and prevention of unauthorized access are priority although there are a lot more issues that may need to be addressed. Now it remains to be seen whether these moves are enough for corporate clients to put their full trust in the cloud. But then again, they can always find ways to stay secure while making use of cloud computing where they can, which brings us to the next cloud trend.

Hybrid Approach

Large businesses are taking a longer time to get used to and actually use cloud services, and understandably so. After all, these companies have more at stake when it comes to dealing with such valid issues as security, compliance, outages, legacy systems, and more. However, they also cannot ignore the very appealing characteristics of the cloud. For big companies that have substantial IT needs, scalability, business agility, and faster deployment are listed as the biggest draws of the cloud.

This is why analysts predict that as as these businesses look toward leveraging the benefits of the cloud while at the same time maintaining control over mission critical data and systems, the use of a hybrid approach, i.e. putting some services in a public and at the same time opting to utilize a private cloud for other applications, will see enormous growth.

Mobile Cloud Computing

The BYOD or Bring Your Own Device business policy is another emerging trend that would not have been possible if not for cloud technology. This practice involves having employees bring their mobile devices to work, allowing them to access company files, data, and applications from their personally-owned gadgets in and out of the workplace.

As with any new business practice, the concept of BYOD can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. On the one hand, some believe it helps increase employee productivity and lifts their morale, while reducing overall IT costs. On the other hand, BYOD also opens up a whole new set of problems that are quite consistent with what many businesses take issue with with cloud technology: security. Do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? This much isn’t clear yet but what is evident is that more cloud apps are going mobile.

Efficiency, Innovation

While cost savings has always been one benefit that cloud proponents are quick to point out, its capability to improve and streamline business processes, thereby increasing efficiency and agility within the organization, is another key opportunity that the cloud offers. This is evident when you take a look at the most commonly used cloud services: backup and archiving, business continuity, collaboration tools, and big data processing.

Moreover, the cloud is making it easier for individuals to create new products and produce new lines of business. With access to higher IT capacity at lesser cost and at faster deployment rates, businesses can scale into more innovation without having to worry about the availability of computing resources.

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Becoming Nimble the Agile Project Management Way

In dictionary terms, ?agile? means ?able to move quickly and easily?. In project management terms, the definition is ?project management characterized by division of tasks into short work phases called ?sprints?, with frequent reassessments and adaptation of plans?. This technique is popular in software development but is also useful when rolling out other projects.

Managing the Seven Agile Development Phases

  • Stage 1: Vision. Define the software product in terms of how it will support the company vision and strategy, and what value it will provide the user. Customer satisfaction is of paramount value including accommodating user requirement changes.
  • Stage 2: Product Roadmap. Appoint a product owner responsible for liaising with the customer, business stakeholders and the development team. Task the owner with writing a high-level product description, creating a loose time frame and estimating effort for each phase.
  • Stage 3: Release Plan. Agile always looks ahead towards the benefits that will flow. Once agreed, the Product Road-map becomes the target deadline for delivery. With Vision, Road Map and Release Plan in place the next stage is to divide the project into manageable chunks, which may be parallel or serial.
  • Stage 4: Sprint Plans. Manage each of these phases as individual ?sprints?, with emphasis on speed and meeting targets. Before the development team starts working, make sure it agrees a common goal, identifies requirements and lists the tasks it will perform.
  • Stage 5: Daily Meetings. Meet with the development team each morning for a 15-minute review. Discuss what happened yesterday, identify and celebrate progress, and find a way to resolve or work around roadblocks. The goal is to get to alpha phase quickly. Nice-to-haves can be part of subsequent upgrades.
  • Stage 6: Sprint Review. When the phase of the project is complete, facilitate a sprint review with the team to confirm this. Invite the customer, business stakeholders and development team to a presentation where you demonstrate the project/ project phase that is implemented.
  • Stage 7: Sprint Retrospective. Call the team together again (the next day if possible) for a project review to discuss lessons learned. Focus on achievements and how to do even better next time. Document and implement process changes.

The Seven Agile Development Phases ? Conclusions and Thoughts

The Agile method is an excellent way of motivating project teams, achieving goals and building result-based communities. It is however, not a static system. The product owner must conduct regular, separate reviews with the customer too.

Succeed at Transformation

Despite the pomp and fanfare associated with launching corporate transformation programs, in reality very few of them succeed. According to a recent report by McKinsey the success rate is pegged below 40%. In addition, the same research indicates that defensive transformations – those undertaken as part of crisis management – have lower chances of success than progressive ones – those launched to streamline operations and foster growth. However, adopting certain strategies, like setting clear and high goals, and maintaining energy and engagement throughout the implementation phase, can really boost the project’s success rate. A key aspect of business transformation is IT transformation. This can be attributed to the fact that significant business change is either driven or influenced by technological change.

So what is IT Transformation?

IT transformation is basically a holistic reorganisation of the existing technological infrastructure that supports the company’s mission critical functions. In essence, IT transformation is not all about effecting change for the sake of change but involves systematic steps that align IT systems to business functions. To appreciate this approach, it is important to explore current trends in the business world where human resource, finance and IT transformations are being carried out in unison. This is being done to develop strong corporate centres that are leaner, agile and more productive that enhance greater synergies across all business functions.

IT transformation inevitably results in major changes of the information system’s technology, involving both hardware and software components of the system, the architecture of the system, the manner in which data is structured or accessed, IT control and command governance, and the components supporting the system. From this scope of works it is evident that IT transformation is a huge project that requires proper planning and implementation in order to succeed.

Tips to Improve Success in IT transformations Projects

1. Focus on Benefits not Functionality

The project plan should be more focused on benefits that can be accrued if the system is implemented successfully rather than system functionality. The benefits should be in line with business goals, for instance cost reduction and value addition. The emphasis should be on the envisaged benefits which are defined and outlined during the project authorisation. The business benefits outlined should be clear, feasible, compelling and quantifiable. Measures should be put in place to ensure that the benefits are clearly linked to the new system functionality.

2. Adopt a Multiple Release Approach

Typically most IT projects are planned with focus on a big launch date set in years to come. This approach is highly favoured because it simplifies stakeholder expectation management and avoids the complexity associated with multiple incremental releases. However, this approach misses the benefit of getting early critical feedback on functioning of the system. In addition, the long lead times often result in changes in project scope and loss of critical team members and stakeholders. IT transformation projects should be planned to deliver discrete portions of functionality in several releases. The benefit of multiple release approach is that it reduces project risks and most importantly allows earlier lessons learnt to be incorporated in future releases.

3. Capacity of the Organisation to confront Change

As pointed out, IT transformations result in significant changes in business operations and functions. Hence it is important that all business stakeholders should be reading from the same script in regards to changes expected. In addition, key stakeholders should be involved in crucial project stages and their feedback incorporated to ensure that the system is not only functional but business focused.

Uncover hidden opportunities with energy data analytics

What springs to mind when you hear the words energy data analytics? To me, I feel like energy data analytics is not my thing. Energy data analytics, however, is of great importance to any organisation or business that wants to run more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase productivity. Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to accomplish these goals.

Energy efficiency is not about investment in expensive equipment and internal reorganization. Enormous energy saving opportunities is hidden in already existing energy data. Given that nowadays, energy data can be recorded from almost any device, a lot of data is captured regularly and therefore a lot of data is readily available.

Organisations can use this data to convert their buildings’ operations from being a cost centre to a revenue centre through reduction of energy-related spending which has a significant impact on the profitability of many businesses. All this is possible through analysis and interpretation of data to predict future events with greater accuracy. Energy data analytics therefore is about using very detailed data for further analysis, and is as a consequence, a crucial aspect of any data-driven energy management plan.

The application of Data and IT could drive significant cost savings in company-owned buildings and vehicle fleets. Virtual energy audits can be performed by combining energy meter data with other basic data about a building e.g. location, to analyse and identify potential energy savings opportunities. Investment in energy dashboards can further enable companies to have an ongoing look at where energy is being consumed in their buildings, and thus predict ways to reduce usage, not to mention that energy data analytics unlock savings opportunities and help companies to understand their everyday practices and operating requirements in a much more comprehensive manner.

Using energy data analytics can enable an organisation to: determine discrepancies between baseline and actual energy data; benchmark and compare previous performance with actual energy usage. Energy data analytics also help businesses and organisations determine whether or not their Building Management System (BMS) is operating efficiently and hitting the targeted energy usage goals. They can then use this data to investigate areas for improvement or energy efficient upgrades. When energy data analytics are closely monitored, companies tend to operate more efficiently and with better control over relevant BMS data.

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