Is Cloud Computing a Game Changer?

By Marc Emmer

Super freaks, geeks and techno-groupies — they’re just a tiny part of the picture these days.

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011, held at San Francisco’s Moscone West (a.k.a., Northern California’s largest venue), sold out in two hours. Attendees awaited the keynote delivery by Steve Jobs like giddy little kids on Christmas Eve.

In technology parlance, Jobs is Michael Jackson, JFK and Kobe Bryant, wrapped up into one guy in jeans and a black T-shirt. Of course, Senor Jobs always has a rabbit up his sleeve: Past speeches have unveiled the iPod, iPhone and iPad, among many other product innovations.

In this year’s speech, Jobs did not disappoint. But the star of the show was not an iProduct, it was iCloud; Apple’s revolutionary cloud computing solution. While product innovations such as the iPad garner all the hype and media attention, it’s Apple’s service innovation platforms such as the App Store and iTunes that have enabled an extraordinary shift in our computing experience.

The layman views cloud computing as a “hard disk in the sky,” an extension of the Internet infrastructure where he or she can store documents and photos. But to minimize the promise of cloud computing, and Apple’s brilliant application of it, misses the point entirely.

iCloud might be the next game changer.

In the recent movie Limitless, the lead character finds a magic pill that allows him to tap into every area of his brain instantly, resulting in an extraordinary IQ and productivity. Imagine a world in which every stream of data you ever possessed was instantly available to you — and picture a framework where all of it was pushed to every one of your devices, instantaneously.

No more manual syncs, no more cables, no more transferring files (including music and movies) or looking for documents. What would it mean to have real-time information, everywhere?

One might think that similar thinking is already employed in web-based B2B solutions like SharePoint or on corporate computer networks. There are two things that distinguish iCloud — and both mean big, big news and cost-savings for small business.

One is that the information (both personal and professional) is automatically pushed out to every device, wirelessly in real time. The other, is that iCloud is FREE (and far more functional than products like Dropbox).

Apple is in effect taking on the burden of storing all of a user’s information (or up to 5GB) virtually; at zero cost. Want to talk about disruption? Entire business models will be destroyed by Apple’s new mouse trap. Moore’s Law is on steroids.

In my travels around the country giving speeches and working with entrepreneurs, one observation I would make is that adoption of tablets (and in particular iPads) is extraordinarily high with business executives.

iCloud (and similar cloud technologies) will enable a spectacular shift in the way highly mobile executives utilize technology. While technology traditionalists (including IT departments) remain loyal to the stability of MS operating systems and infrastructure they know, the people they report to are dragging them to the party.

Regardless of who the players are, cloud computing presents us with a new frontier where systems can integrate quickly and cleanly. The implications for small businesses are profound. Imagine a world where disparate systems (such as QuickBooks, ADP, SalesForce, etc.) act as one.

iCloud could be the domino that changes the game, permanently.

Marc Emmer is a President of Optimize Inc. a California based management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning. Marc is the author of the book IntendedConsequences. Marc can be reached at
Originally published: Sep 2, 2011

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