The personal computer is no longer the preferred medium for doing business. The cloud is starting to overtake desktop-based devices, along with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Consultancy firm Gartner says that cloud applications will replace PCs in both the enterprise and consumer market as the preferred means of accessing content by 2014.
This trend means that users get more flexibility from their mobile devices, and cloud computing enables the strength of each device to be leveraged. For example, smartphones are best for communications while on-the-go. Tablets, meanwhile, can be used when making client presentations.
In all of these, cloud computing will be the glue that binds web services and devices. Gartner says the so-called “post-PC era” ushers in not only the advent of new devices, but rather a new way of working and thinking.
There are a few major trends that are becoming the driving force of this post-PC era, and small-to-medium enterprises should take heed.
- Consumerization of IT. Corporate IT has increasingly become consumerized due to the increasing technology savvy of its users. Mobile devices have become more and more affordable, which has brought about the trend in “bring your own devices” or BYOD in the workplace. Users have likewise been able to harness social media in both improving their personal and professional networks. As such, IT is no longer just the expertise of the corporate IT department, but everyone can now pitch in.
- Virtualization gives security and flexibility. Virtualization of processes has given organizations flexibility in implementing their computing environments. This lets IT departments run applications without being constrained by the differences in devices and platforms that users are running. Virtualization lets users have a standard and consistent environment regardless of the device they use, whether these be notebooks, desktops, tablets or even smartphones.
- Apps take center stage. Applications – or apps – have changed the way users do computing today. Apps have had a dramatic impact on both the consumer and enterprise market, especially with their cross-platform portability. The portable user experience has likewise made users more productive and efficient in communicating and processing data. Apps also play an important part in cloud computing, given their portable nature, and the prevalence of mobile broadband access.
- Self-service cloud. The cloud is not just for enterprises and businesses. The cloud has increasingly become self-service, with consumers having a plethora of options, from email, to collaboration, to storage, and other functionalities. As such, there are benefits from individual users shifting to cloud-based services, which can include a culture of self-service that lets users become more in-control over their digital experiences and online identities.
- Mobile devices have prevailed. The so-called “post-PC” era has come. Mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and hybrid devices have become more and more popular in the enterprise and consumer setting. In the emerging markets, access from mobile devices will overtake desktops, which can be attributed to the lower barrier to entry and easier access to mobile devices. Mobile devices also give enterprise users more freedom. Workers can communicate with colleagues from virtually anywhere, and no one has to be stuck at a desk anymore. Aside from mobility, these devices also offer interesting user experiences, which include touch- and gesture-based control, which is a deviation from the keyboard and mouse that users have been used to for decades.
Cloud computing is changing the way organizations run their applications and processes. Because the cloud is flexible and scalable, these benefits can be achieved by both SMEs and big businesses. Applications, virtualization and mobile devices have led to a change in organizational culture, with a new preference toward mobility.