Cloud Computing

Aaron Levie (North America) - Why the Cloud Will Tip for Content Management and Collaboration in 2011

The technology demands of today's workers have changed dramatically in recent years. Thanks to consumer applications like YouTube, Facebook and Flickr, knowledge workers now expect business software to help them share and collaborate with the simplicity and usability of the consumer internet. The workplace itself has also evolved significantly, having exploded beyond the traditional boundaries of the office walls and into coffee shops, airports, and homes. Workers need to be able to connect with geo-dispersed colleagues from anywhere, on any device, and also collaborate with external parties such as vendors, partners and customers.

Here's the problem: legacy software solutions disable rather than enable this new worker and workplace. Traditional on-premise services keep business content locked down and behind the firewall, driving workers to look for outside tools to help them get their jobs done. They're finding and implementing freemium and low-cost, cloud-based content management and collaboration services to solve their sharing and communication challenges, sometimes with the knowledge and blessing of the IT department, but most often on their own. And because tools used to share are inherently viral, these workers are driving unprecedented bottom-up adoption of cloud-based solutions within their organizations. Thanks to the cloud, we're finally seeing the democratization of technology adoption.

Eventually, these renegade deployments, or "Shadow IT," come under the radar of the enterprise IT department. And whereas a few years ago the default would have been to shut these new tools down, today many IT professionals are sanctioning them, and even considering them for broader deployment. Why? Because IT departments recognize that these tools are fundamentally helping workers be more productive, and they also understand that achieving security for today's enterprise is rapidly changing. Firewalls and information lock-down exist because they were once the best way to keep content from getting in the wrong hands. But with web-based alternatives only a few clicks away for end users, the restrictions that IT put into place to create a more secure environment are ironically actually pushing frustrated employees to use external platforms beyond IT's visibility. And this is not sustainable from a security standpoint.

Everyone wins when workers have software they want to use, rather than software they have to use, and IT departments have the oversight and visibility they require. A new generation of cloud-based business solutions is beginning to make this duality possible. Intuitive services like Yammer, Jive and Box give employees the flexibility and mobility they require, while also providing enterprise-grade security and visibility for IT professionals. These solutions are already present in most large enterprises today, implemented by end users and project teams, and in some cases by IT departments. 2011 is the year that we'll see large-scale adoption of these next-generation enterprise software solutions, as these platforms continue to mature and the productivity and security costs of not empowering knowledge workers with tools that help them move more quickly and strategically become increasingly apparent.


Aaron Levie is co-founder and CEO of Box.net



« Gabriel Cogo (Brazil) - The Future of the IT Professional in Brazil


Axel Pawlik (Middle East) - The Future of Internet Development in the Middle East »


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?