The Clouds Roll In


By Samuel Greengard

Amid all the noise and chaos about cloud computing and how it is transforming the enterprise, it's important to ponder how significantly the cloud is altering the way people work and interact on a personal level.

Over the last few years, iCloud, SkyDrive, Dropbox, Box and Sugarsync have created much easier ways to manage and sync data across different devices, including smartphones and tablets. Now Google has entered the fray with Google Drive.

It wasn't all that long ago that we were mired in USB sticks, clunky FTP sites and cumbersome email transfers. Keeping files and other data current on different devices and shared with a work team was next to impossible.

As personal clouds drift into our lives, along with mobility and social media, one thing is apparent: As time passes, it's less about a powerful enterprise application or device than the bits and bytes of data that can be assembled and reassembled in new and potent ways. The ability to instantly access contacts, calendars, files, photos, videos and whatever else we need at the click of a button or a tap on a screen takes our lives and our work in entirely new directions.

Enterprise business and IT executives might want to pay close attention to the growing popularity of personal clouds. In fact, rather than attempting to fight the broader IT consumerization and BYOD trends, organizations should view personal clouds as a blueprint for the 21st century enterprise.

Who knows where the next billion-dollar idea will come from or what combination of data creates a sum greater than the individual parts? Who knows what intelligence is embedded in the collective mind?

The disruption has only begun. It's critical to recognize that cloud computing remains in the early stages of maturity. What's more, as it becomes more sophisticated, streamlined and ubiquitous, the dividing line between the haves and have-nots will grow.

The challenge for business and IT leaders is to find ways to provide the level of support and security needed to fully exploit the personal cloud model and embed such a high level of data availability and sharing within the enterprise.

Unfortunately, there's no manual for this one. It's learn as you go.