By Jeffrey M. Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies
Back in 1993, venture capitalist William H. Davidow, and tech writer, Michael S. Malone, co-authored a book called “The Virtual Corporation: Structuring and Revitalizing the Corporation for the 21st Century”, which proved to be way ahead of its time. Like many bold ideas in the tech world, it took about ten years to begin to come to fruition.
Today, the idea of using an army of freelancers housed in remote offices or operating virtually from the road all tethered together by a wireless network of increasingly powerful mobile devices is becoming the norm rather than the exception.
In fact, the growing fascination with smartphones and tablets among ‘prosumers’ has led to a ‘consumerization effect’ which poses escalating challenges for IT departments in organizations of all sizes, across nearly every industry.
Rather than continue to fight off end-user attempts to use their own mobile devices, a growing number of organizations are adopting ‘bring-your-own-device’ (BYOD) policies which permit end-users to select among a set of pre-approved mobile devices which have been chosen because they meet minimum corporate standards for performance, reliability and security.
But, what is compounding the wireless challenges facing organizations is the added element of the ‘on-demand’ expectations of today’s end-users, executives and ecosystem of business partners and corporate customers. Not only do they want ready access to corporate resources from anywhere, at any time, they want it with all the same performance capabilities of a traditional branch office, regardless of whether they’re working from home, their car, a Starbucks or another location.
And, because a key to success in today’s turbulent business climate is being able to quickly respond to rapidly changing customer demands and competitive pressures, being able to set up virtual ‘branch offices’ immediately, in an ad hoc yet standardized fashion is essential.
The ‘Cloud’ has set a new standard for utilizing virtual resources on-demand.
Organizations are becoming accustomed to taking advantage of enterprise applications via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, computing power via Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and even software development tools via Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS).
These same Cloud models can now be employed to address a wider array of business issues, such as the advent of the virtual branch office. And, today’s Cloud solutions also take into account that they may be administered by non-technical personnel with limited experience working with the complex systems and software of the past. As a result, the Cloud solutions are designed to be easy to utilize, yet still offer powerful monitoring, management and measurement capabilities which belie their simple elegance.
It is for these reasons, THINKstrategies is seeing a growing demand for Cloud-based solutions to help organizations better manage their IT environments in general and increasingly virtual office environments in particular.
Jeff Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies, an independent consulting firm focused on the business implications of the on-demand services movement. He is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.