First, to clarify: it is quite common for the terms “Web”, “Internet”, and “Cloud Computing” to be used interchangeably. They are indeed related, but they are also different. When we talk about the Internet, we are describing a network of networks. The “Web”, on the other hand, is a layer on the Internet, and is a user interface technology that makes the Internet usable. And finally, cloud computing, which has many definitions, is best described by Gartner as a style of computing where scalability and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are provided “as a service” using Internet technologies. These services are tracked and metered by use, which allows enterprises to pay for what they need.
In a recent webcast, Gartner says we are entering the age of the cloud and the mobile web. Here’s how these technologies are driving the enterprise IT strategy:
Cloud Computing and the Mobile Web are enabling technologies
Through the cloud, enterprise IT has multiple abilities to bring things in from different places. Think about the power of mash-ups, which takes data from different sites and brings them together in a unified way. Just look at Google Maps and think about how enterprises can use the same model. Add in the power of the mobile web, and the way we do business is being transformed.
The Mobile Web refers to the use of Internet-connected applications, or browser-based access to the Internet from a mobile device - such as a smartphone. While devices, applications and operating systems are not always interoperable, mobile web content and applications are themselves becoming more user friendly. The good news too is that cloud computing is device agnostic. Anyone can access the cloud with any mobile device connected to the Internet, and this is a powerful enabler for business. Cloud computing and the mobile web are also the ultimate enablers for unified communications (UC).
Consumer behavior is an indicator of the future of the enterprise
Enterprises should pay attention to the consumer world – not just devices, but especially their behavior. Most often, disruptive behavior begins with a change by consumers, which enterprises later adapt. Think about social networking. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were once a consumer phenomena. Today, most corporations have a social networking strategy for marketing, PR, branding, and community-building. Even more, the consumerization of the public Internet has taken corporations by storm. What once began as consumer niches are now embraced by enterprises: email, Google apps, blogs, etc.
The cloud captivated consumers without them even knowing. Furthermore, consumers are becoming expert users with mobile web technology. By focusing on the needs and behaviors of the various end-users (employees, customers, fans, friends, and other constituents), IT can empower the entire enterprise through Web, Internet, and cloud computing technologies. Above all, as the cloud delivers its technologies, applications, and services through the Internet, the opportunities for the enterprise are boundless.