April 4, 2013 | Written by: Maamar Ferkoun
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Cloud computing is changing our lives in many ways. While the technology has been described and commented on at length technically, very few studies have focused on its impact on everyday life. We are, as never before, seeing cloud technology impact our world on many levels. I want to reflect on the effects of these systemic changes to our lives by highlighting some of these areas in this blog post.
The likes of YouTube and Google are testimony to a shift in how people are now interacting with others. From remote locations to the global center stage, an event can reach the four corners of the planet by going viral. Global has reached its true significance, and we’ve seen the emerging of the “citizen journalist” on this global stage. Anyone can turn into an instant reporter, and live news feeds are constantly streaming the media, at times sparking social upheavals.
It has never been as easy to look out for long forgotten friends and classmates with the explosion of social networks and websites proposing ways to connect and relate through online communities. Facebook is of course a primary example.
Public figures and politicians, too, are now turning to engines such as Twitter to get a feel of the community and convey their views while bearing the pressure and influence from the groups they are looking at leading.
Taking advantage of developments in cloud technology and the social media space has allowed these different actors access to sophisticated analytical abilities. As an example of that, businesses are now increasingly using data from social media platforms in combination with cloud-based information resources to get better insights on potential services, innovations and customer requirements.
Educational institutions have been quick to realize the advantages of cloud technology and have been eagerly adopting it for several reasons, including:
- Ability for the students to access data anywhere, anytime, to enroll in online classes and to participate in group activities
- The value of combining business automation processes to streamline subscription, class enrollments and assignment tracking, thus reducing expenses significantly
- Ability for the institutional body to leverage the storage cloud to store the daily 2.5 quintillion bytes of data securely and without the need to cater to a complicated infrastructure
- The benefit of process billing and charging for education and non-education related activities
While these are probably most obvious in a mature and developed market, cloud computing technology also offers benefits to students from developing countries. Access is now instantly available and in many instances free thanks to the proliferation of websites dispensing educational material and cloud knowledge-sharing communities. A simple internet connection can go a long way.
Cloud technology also offers other benefits to developing countries since they no longer have the burden of investing in costly infrastructures and can tap into data and applications that are readily available in the cloud. I briefly mentioned the education sector above, but the same applies to other areas, such as banking, agriculture, health and science.
Take as an example the telecom industry, whereby these developing countries have been fast embracing the smart mobile technology that accelerated development by leaping over the traditional wire and copper infrastructure.
There are many reasons why using cloud technology in the healthcare industry is gaining pace. Some examples include: managing non-siloed patient data and sharing it among different parties such as medical professionals or patients checking their own status and treatment follow-ups; reducing operational costs such as data storage; accessing this data through pervasive devices such as mobile phones and going beyond the traditional intranet; implementing a quick solution in a secure environment that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations.
While there may be challenges in integrating old or current tools with new technologies and the corresponding level of services, the benefits will outweigh the inhibition to move to the cloud. According to the industry, healthcare will be a growing market in the coming years, running into the billions.