09 Feb 2016David Richards, LinkedIn

The cloud and the working revolution

Record numbers of people in the US and UK now work from home. Automation is threatening jobs. More and more workers are being monitored with trackers. We are all likely to need to work for longer. It is clear that the industrial revolution, when successful businesses were built on economies of scale, standardization and a strict hierarchy, is over. We are now in the digital revolution whereby technological advances are fundamentally changing the way we live.

Many of these changes are being driven by the cloud – it is no coincidence that the fastest growing company in 2016 will be Amazon Web Services, a cloud computing platform. Many of us use the cloud on a daily basis checking Facebook, sending emails and using Dropbox. The cloud puts the power of technology in our hands by enabling anyone to access vast computing power at the touch of a button. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area I can access virtually the same type of information as someone who is living on a remote island. Today, where you are located is starting to matter much less when it comes to being able to do your job. As long as you can access the internet it is likely you can access the same people and resources as if you were working in an office. We are connected anywhere and everywhere we go.

We increasingly work in a world where boundaries do not exist. The language you speak and your physical location are starting to matter less and less. In order to operate in this global environment, companies must embrace the cloud and all it has to offer. It removes big upfront investments in technology. It allows businesses to scale up or down quickly providing much needed flexibility when responding to changing customer demands. It enhances external collaboration with partners and customers.

Yet for all the benefits of the cloud there are practical issues of getting data to and from where you, your office, or your data centers are located. How does one move petabytes of data that are transactional and hence continually in use? Technology such as WANdisco’s Fusion active replication make it easy to move large volumes of data to the cloud whilst continuing with transactions enabling companies to move critical applications and processes seamlessly.

FINRA, one of the largest independent securities regulators in the United States has now moved a significant portion of its operations to the cloud through Amazon Web Services. It estimates it will save up to $20 million annually by using AWS instead of a physical data centre infrastructure. For more and more organizations like FINRA, the greater number of points of data they can grab, store and analyze, the more they can predict how we will behave. As a result mountains of data are being collected and yet for many businesses this data is being stored in a variety of different ways. Transferring these different silos of data to the cloud to run real-time analytics or gain a full 360 perspective of performance is invaluable. 

By sifting through mountains of data common patterns can be identified leading to actionable intelligence. In the world of work this means it is becoming easier than ever for employers to keep an eye on their staff. Low cost GPS systems are already used to record the progress of delivery drivers. Earpieces given to warehouse employees track their performance and downtime. With increased sales of wearable technology such as Fitbit and Jawbone tracking exercise, food intake, sleep patterns and other health related information soon companies, rightly or wrongly, will know how much we sleep and our levels of anxiety and stress both in and outside the workplace.

While the cloud may have started out as a ripple in a sea of data solutions and business technology, it has become essential to working life. Whether you are part of a small start up using the cloud to create a technology infrastructure or a multinational providing secure access to company data for employees around the world it is clear the cloud is changing the way we work and live. Those who don’t embrace it now will be left behind as it continues to revolutionize society in the years to come.

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