The concept of elasticity implies that business is not naturally bounded in any traditional sense. Not bounded by an employee base, by limits on communications, or by intellectual resources which are often the most important resource for new online businesses, or by their traditional place in one industry or market.
Of course no area of human activity is totally unbounded, something will always pull us back or limit our activity.
Elasticity though implies organizations that are more free to expand than they were in the past, and more free to roam, to stretch themselves through radical adjacency into other areas of the economy.
Cloud infrastructure is an essential part of that capability and Apple’s iCloud is a good example of what it will mean for individuals.
iCloud has finally brought the discussion about Cloud computing to a level where it has meaning for the majority of us. To date it’s been a discussion for people with technical know-how.
On a technical level it involves understanding how computer processing resources,software and software services, can be created and utilised by any company, anywhere, securely and with the maximum degree of efficiency. That is different from conventional computing power – which companies bought in the shape of servers, desktop devices and packaged or customised software and it is transformational. However many companies are heavily invested in their existing systems and will only migrate to the Cloud, if at all as their systems come under strain or come up for renewal.
On the other hand the Cloud offers an opportunity to move quickly into new radical adjacency business opportunities, as we illustrate in the book through the example of USAA’s Home Circle and Auto Circle services.
iCloud on the other hand gives us an insight into how individuals might benefit from the Cloud. As a recent Forbes.com article put it:
iCloud enables people to simply turn their screens on and there are their apps, services and data, all ready to go… the logical end goal of iCloud is, of course, replacing the operating system itself. No more iOS, no more OS X, no more Windows. There are just the devices you turn on or off, and the data they store. iCloud is computing without the computing.
Many users will recognise that experience from their smartphone. What it might mean is that we no longer rely on older ways to organise information.
As individuals, we will not have a desktop full of hierarchical folders. Instead we will fire up an app that is designed to help us with specific types of information. So for example in place of a set of excel files we might have a number of apps that deal with monthly account reporting, sales lead visualization, expense reporting etc. The app becomes the medium that we use to navigate and use our data.
Envisioning how that will work with text documentation is a little more difficult. As a writer I don’t imagine many apps will help me with my documents, though on second thoughts why not?
It might be for example that an app will locate all current documents – ones that I haven’t signed off as finalised, or all documents emailed to a particular client or co-worker, or all documents with a preponderance of terms relating to science or elasticity.
For as long as I see documents in a conventional way I won’t see the app advantage. But if I think of this new computing paradigm – my documents are all stored with a service provider who has the processing power to conduct semantic analysis of my text data then a lot more becomes possible.
And with the processing power residing more at my service provider I can probably do those processing tasks on a feature phone. That’s the power of the Cloud.
And its impact is to make me more efficient in critical creative tasks that I perform. That in turn has consequences for the enterprises I work with. It means not only they get the chance to be elastic but I get the chance to be a lot more effective – at least in theory.