PricewaterhouseCoopers: Here’s What Makes The Cloud So Cool

In a guest editorial for Forbes Mike Pearl, the cloud computing leader for international professional services giant PricewaterhouseCooper, succinctly and clearly explained just why the cloud is so awesome. Okay, maybe he didn’t use the word “awesome.”

That editorial, more properly called “Looking At Cloud Strategy Through The Lens Of Value,” starts with a high-level view of cloud strategy, and how vendors that don’t market cloud solutions as such are falling behind. Pearl likens the cloud to the role of credit in financial services, insofar as it enables an organization to grow and move beyond their physical assets. But putting aside the technology itself, there are really four distinct ways in which the cloud can add value to a business, he writes.

Pearl’s four “value lenses,” in short:

  1. Cloud-enabled IT transformation: This is the kind of cloud computing shift that pundits like myself have spent years discussing, as IT’s role shifts from break-fix and general administration to service orchestration as customers no longer need to operate their own data centers.
  2. Transforming internal business operations, by which Pearl means the kind of new-age business process workflows on which companies like Salesforce.com have built a reputation. Cloud customers can take advantage of software as a service (SaaS) and attendant mobile technologies to accelerate core business practices.
  3. Innovate around new products and services - my personal favorite – refers to the kind of things that simply weren’t possible before the emergence of the cloud. Pearl uses the example of San Francisco’s cloud-built 311 non-emergency service request solution, but I’m thinking also of Dropbox and the like.
  4.  Energize broader and more diverse channels and communities - That’s a lot of buzzwords to describe how the so-called social enterprise, again with mobility, can use the cloud to deliver increased collaboration inside and outside of the enterprise. That includes enabling departments to communicate with each other, as well as promoting better lines of support with outside channels.
Pearl concludes his treatise by reiterating that the cloud is here to stay:

“Far from being the latest technology craze, cloud computing should be regarded as a strategic asset that helps organizations transform their business models by creating new products and services and new modes of engagement among employees and with customers. Is your organization ready to capture the opportunities?”

File this under “food for thought.” If you’re auditing a cloud solution, and it doesn’t fall under one of these lenses, chances are good it’s not going to meaningfully add value in a cloud transition. Cloud computing may be here for the long haul, but for the time being it’s still a buzzword – but it’s absolutely vital that a cloud transition actually adds value and isn’t being done for its own sake. What Pearl is providing here is a useful plan of attack for thinking along those lines.