Back in 2011, the Harvard Business Review published a piece on the benefits of the cloud. Cloud computing, they predicted, would take over businesses and the world. And it would quickly become the platform of choice for many businesses. They pointed to some substantial benefits that couldn’t be ignored.
For starters, cloud computing would make it easier for people to collaborate. Experiments at the time showed that people were receptive to cloud-based collaborative software. And experiments showed that cloud uptake was welcomed by participants. Second came the idea that the cloud would actually make us more productive. Remember, back in 2011, there was a significant movement that said the computer technology hadn’t really made all that much difference. People wasted as much time as they saved using computers and it all averaged out. The idea of having a single repository where people could access the data was groundbreaking.
The third big revolution was to be in so-called “mining the data.” Today we just call this big data or even machine learning. But way back in 2011, it was thought that the cloud would be what would drive most of these data. Businesses owners would soon get tools, it was argued, that would help them combat age-old problems like shrinkage.
But in amongst the conversation about all the benefits was little discussion of the costs. There were a few skeptics who, from the beginning, were worried.
One problem that they foresaw was with integration. They knew that the cloud services market was wide open for anybody to participate in. But they argued, that would lead to a lack of standards and difficulty sharing data across platforms. Granted, it was a problem in the early days. But thanks to cloud data integration services that has all changed. Companies realized that other companies wanted to integrate their cloud platforms. So they begin designing systems that would help them do that, all in digital space. Today, most experts regard this problem as being resolved.
The skeptics also argued that cost would be a concern for cloud services. And this belief soon spread to CEOs. The press began reporting that cloud costs would start to rise substantially, and this put a lot of entrepreneurs off the idea. But, in reality, costs came down considerably. In fact, most CEOs now know that moving to the cloud has significant cost advantages. What they didn’t see was how the economies of scale and learning curves would bring the costs down. Running cloud infrastructure was once expensive. But now so many servers are built and installed, the process has come down in price dramatically.
Finally, skeptics worried about the reliability of the cloud. There was a concern that a third party company wouldn’t look after a company’s data as well as the company itself. CEOs accepted this message and put off transitioning to the cloud.
Cloud companies soon saw this as a major impediment to sales. So they invested big money in making cloud services reliable. Now many CEOs accept that cloud services are more reliable than in-house.