It wasn’t that long ago when people used to say, “I left that file on my computer. I’ll have to send it to you when I get back to the office.”
In today’s world, nobody would ever say such a thing—not just to a coworker or manager, but even to friends and family. Everything we do is on the cloud. Our music is streamed. Same with our favorite movies and television shows. Even the notes we keep on our phones, most of which are about as important as a grocery list, are backed up and accessible on the cloud from anywhere.
Cloud computing has fundamentally changed the way we work and communicate.
In the business world, this improved level of communication has led to all sorts of new expectations—good and bad. Here’s what has changed the most:
1. When it lives on the cloud, work never stops.
If you thought work-life balance was hard before, the cloud just made that ten times harder.
Since everything is accessible, all the time, employees are finding it more and more difficult to separate work from everyday life. Especially with how integrated our mobile phones have become—both into our careers and our social lives—it’s the cloud that asks employees to constantly be on alert. If someone needs a file, or a quick edit, it should be no problem. Why? Because you simply pull the document up on your phone, swipe a few times, and then send it off.
While this might seem largely unobtrusive, the truth is the cloud is asking team members to constantly be connected to their work. In the same way your Dropbox account is constantly syncing in the background, employees are finding the concept of work always whirring in the background.
The cloud has made remote working exponentially easier. But it has also required a different level of commitment to work responsibilities.
2. On the cloud, everything is more efficient.
Everyone in the business world knows the pains of version control.
When you’re constantly dealing with documents and files being uploaded and downloaded, you’re never quite sure if what you’re looking at is the latest version. And as much as every team would like to believe they are responsible enough to keep things organized, human error is inevitable.
On the cloud, however, things can be edited and adjusted in real time.
Take Google Drive, for example. It is infinitely easier to make changes to a document (especially when there are five different people offering feedback) in Google Documents than it is to upload and download different Microsoft Word files.
3. If everything is on the cloud, that means more security is required.
While it’s safe to say cloud storage and computing has made life infinitely more convenient for Internet users, safety itself is becoming more and more of a priority every single day.
IT departments and security specialists now have to work harder than ever to ensure data in the cloud remains secure. Events like the Sony hack, all the way to the latest scandal between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, have shown us just how much data is stored on the cloud—and ultimately, how susceptible we are to having our private data exposed.
This is not to say that the cloud isn’t secure. Companies all over the world rely on cloud computing and storage on a daily, if not second-by-second basis. But to say the business world has the cloud all figured out would be a faulty statement. For as ingrained as the cloud has become in our working lives, there is still a significant amount of work to be done to protect all our data.
4. Cloud costs keep your overhead lean.
When you leverage a cloud service, it’s the service provider that incurs all the costs—not you.
For small, medium, and even large-scale organizations, the cost of housing everything internally can add up quickly. Between general maintenance and upkeep, to the cost of servers that host your data, doing all of that internally becomes an entire project in itself. Most companies don’t have that kind of budget.
On the cloud, however, these barriers to entry are reduced to a frictionless experience. Companies can use these cloud providers to perform all their necessary duties without needing to build any soft of internal infrastructure. Since they’re saving so much money, while simultaneously improving their own efficiencies, they are able to move faster, iterate, and innovate more effectively—ultimately allowing for all companies to flourish.
5. Cloud computing has the potential to become an entirely shared economy.
Building on the previous point here, what’s interesting about the cloud is its potential to become even more shared than it already is.
As it stands, cloud providers are centralized entities which allow companies and users at scale to utilize their platforms and services.