Cloud's silver lining: The economic impact of cloud in the UK

Over the last 15 years alone, we have seen a huge shift within the wider world of technology. Lower prices, coupled with ubiquitous wireless access, have transformed the concept of personal computing. No longer a piece of hardware sitting on a desk, it’s become a selection of apps in the palm of your hand – and it’s accessible to billions of people around the world.

Today, we are connected wherever we go, whatever we are doing – we can see the world around us and we can run our personal and business lives, right from our phone. And because we no longer have to rely on a desktop, an office, or any formal 'work' space, cloud technology has unlocked a whole new realm of possibility, for all of us.

The impact of the cloud

The cloud’s impact on consumers, non-profit organisations, and businesses cannot be overstated. Look at the most popular digital services available today, which are all cloud-based. Gmail, iTunes, and Spotify offer consumers convenience and efficiency.

For organisations, cloud computing allows them to unshackle themselves from the weight of managing on-premise IT – storage, hardware, computers and servers that take up vast amounts of space and cost a lot to build and maintain are no longer the bane of every company. Today, every smart company is running their business right from their phone and reaping the benefits of the incredible speed, as well as the convenience of keeping customers satisfied – even excited.

The success and ubiquity of Facebook and even Uber are witness to the benefits to all parties. They are also witness to our app-based lifestyle – pretty much whatever you think of, there’s an app for it. It’s second nature for us to reach for our phone and plan out our day, order our dinner, or book a cab; all of these services are rapidly becoming app-based. What most people forget is that these are all delivered through the cloud model.

The app economy

In fact, an entire app economy is emerging as startups and nimble SMBs look to deliver tomorrow’s apps to businesses: apps designed to help these customers thrive in an increasingly competitive, always-on world. This hunger to innovate isn’t unique to the startup world either; the smartest CIOs are tapping into this and recognise that the advent of apps has the ability to greatly improve services. It used to be the big fish eating the smaller fish – now it’s hundreds of small-to-medium size fish chomping away at the big fish – and doing it quickly.

That’s what cloud computing has created.

Embracing the cloud

It really is remarkable that the cloud has become so widely embraced, so quickly. Less than a decade ago, cloud computing was met with hostility, with many people viewing it alternately as an on-the-cheap threat to governance and security, a plague on hardware providers, and a threat to highly-skilled jobs. As recently as 2011, cloud computing drove the kind of distrust that was captured in headlines like 'The Cloud vs. IT: Is Your Job in Jeopardy?'

With today’s app economy, the balance of opinion has clearly tipped in the direction of cloud as a creator of opportunities. In fact, a recent study from analyst firm IDC, which has been covering the tech industry for 50 years, found that the cloud has an enormously positive economic impact today, generating millions of pounds sterling in GDP and a huge number of new jobs and new opportunities for people to take advantage of – and will do for years to come. Cloud computing has already become a global macroeconomic success story – and it sports a silver lining for UK Plc and beyond.

Andrew Lawson, UKI MD, Salesforce