There’s a lot of confusion about the cloud: who it’s for, where it’s most useful, how secure it is. Often the descriptions of a cloud enabled world sound like something out of a science fiction movie. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at the cloud (what it is and isn’t) through the lens of some classic sci-fi.

“Bones” McCoy: Original Cloud Sceptic

Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan, you’re probably familiar with Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy and his distrust of technology. “I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine,” he famously quipped, “not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this [transporter] gadget.”

Given how novel the concept of a transporter was at the time (digitizing and distributing an entire human being, then perfectly reassembling that complex set of information at a precise set of coordinates) you can’t really blame his scepticism. When you consider that they’re asking him to trust technology to distribute his most vital and personal possession – i.e. his existence – you can understand why Bones is so reluctant to beam. Similarly, when it comes to trusting their company’s data, you can see why many executives have reservations about moving to the cloud.

The gap between: the risks vs the potential of the cloud

Surveying CEOs shows a key challenge of the cloud. 81% of CEOs said that technological advances will have the greatest transformative impact on their businesses (more than demographic shifts and changes in global economic power). Looking further, according to entrepreneurial CEOs, the technology at the forefront of this trend will be cloud computing.

Do CEOs feel as though their companies are ready to capitalise on this transformation? By and large, the answer is no. Among functional areas, Finance performed best, with only 56% of CEOs feeling that their Finance departments were well prepared for transformative change. Among Marketing, Sales, IT and HR, only one in three CEOs felt that these groups were well prepared. Put another way: companies recognise its tremendous potential, but for a variety of reasons don’t want to have their critical data scattered back and forth across space by this cloud thing.

For companies that get it, the cloud is transformative

For those Star Trek crew members who embraced the transporter, they were able to boldly go on all sorts incredible journeys (unless they had red shirts of course). Bumpy rides? Near catastrophes? Sure: all pioneers face some degree of risk, but the payoffs are tremendous. Similarly for those companies that have embraced the cloud, the results have been transformative.

Take global manufacturer ThyssenKrupp Elevator for example. Their top priority is keeping over 1.1 million lifts running safely and reliably 24/7 each year. To improve uptime and reduce costs, they connected sensors and systems in their lifts to the cloud allowing them to collect rich data on lift performance. The cloud has also allowed them to analyse that data to better predict performance and service needs. The cloud has even allowed them to share that information with technicians in the field and in corporate control centres in real-time to anticipate and respond to an issue before it becomes a problem. By embracing the cloud, ThyssenKrupp has been able to significantly improve the reliability of their lifts while reducing the costs of service.

Another example comes from entrepreneurial shoemaker Vivobarefoot. Their innovative off-road shoe designs allow hikers to explore strange new worlds. Vivobarefoot uses the cloud to connect their global team to accurate real-time sales and operational information. They’re also able to provide their global team with a connected suite productivity tools and devices. And as they grow, their cloud-based infrastructure can scale as quickly as they need.

Demystify (no pun intended) the cloud and the benefits

So if the cloud will truly be a major transformative force, as many executives recognise, and companies such as ThyssenKrupp and Vivobarefoot are starting to realise the potential of the cloud, then what can be done to reduce the distrust of the cloud that’s limiting transformation?

Part of the solution, we think, will be helping managers and executives understand what the cloud is, and what it can become. As such, we’ve published a new e-book, The Trustworthy Cloud, designed help demystify the cloud for non-technical business decision-makers. If you already have a good understanding of the space, many of the concepts already will be familiar to you. It still may serve as a quick refresher for you. If you are working with managers and executives who are cloud sceptics like Bones McCoy, this can serve as a guide. We encourage you to share it with them.

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