Workplace Train Wreck in the Cloud
By Mike Anderson
In each major era of workplace technology evolution there has been a significant discontinuity. The discontinuity tends to be characterized by a period in which multiple competing approaches align toward a common target, and wind up speeding for a collision along the way. For enterprises making decisions about architecture, product, and provider, the path forward becomes more complex as a steady evolution gives way to fragmented and irregular change.
The cloud era brings another trainwreck in the workplace. Microsoft and Google are at the leading edge, and the disruption is already being broadly felt. Users face big challenges, incumbent providers are under pressure, and upstarts have both big opportunities and large hurdles.
For users, the increased level of change and expanding number of choices fuels uncertainty. Although cloud approaches are increasingly being accepted, the decision about when and how to jump on the bandwagon is a big concern. The promises of cost savings, improved agility and new capabilities are attractive, but must be balanced with costs to migrate and potential loss of functionality.
Incumbents, like Microsoft, are under pressure from new competitors. Google has established a strong position forcing Microsoft to respond, but others are in the wings. Enterprise social networking and cloud storage are hot applications, and momentum is in the hands of upstarts not heard of as little as two years ago. Even as Google threatens the Microsoft Office franchise, both are facing assault for cloud storage from Box, Dropbox and others.
New providers face significant challenges of their own. Although starting fresh provides advantages and flexibility, they have little margin for error as there are other competitors ready to take advantage of any opening. They have to be on target with their strategy and agile in execution to prevent the incumbents from delivering new capabilities, or acquiring one of the leading upstart providers.
The race is on to respond to the demands for cloud apps while at the same time handling coexistence and providing competitive functionality. Enterprises making workplace technology decisions face a period of unsettling change that we’ll be analyze closely as colliding approaches compete, collide and converge.