The cloud is all around us, it has revolutionised the way in which we communicate with each other and how applications operate. Everybody on the planet communicates across the cloud; it has encompassed our every discussion. Mobiles, ATMs and of course computers are all part of the cloud.
The cloud, quite simply, explains the internet. The connotation of the cloud describes the remote hosting of content which can be transferred to a range of devices. These could be tablet pcs, desktop pcs, televisions, smartphones, netbooks, etc. Microsoft hails this as the ‘three screen approach’. A central plan that devices of the future will all connect through the cloud and conveniently allow you to share your information between entirely different platforms.
In the future the process of transferring will become so fast that files will no longer seem remotely hosted. However the cloud means more than the remote hosting of data. It defines a phenomenon of applications no longer being installed onto hard drives but services which will be provided from the cloud onto your device. If you are a technophile you will realise that this is already happening in the realm of content but slow to develop in the realm of applications.
Imagine a time when you wouldn’t need to purchase Microsoft Word but instead it could be provided to you from the cloud. Perhaps even to a point that our favourite operating systems will one day not come on a DVD (or Blu-Ray if we consider the close future) but instead purchased remotely and used personally. The business implications of this technology are extraordinary and require licences fees to be adjusted.
As the UK steps closer to faster and more reliable network connections the reality of cloud computing as Microsoft sees it becomes a reality. Cloud computing in the realm of communication could easily signify something which is spoken too much across social networks – social media.
I read many blogs about Public Relations which talk about social media as if it is some sort of clever future concept. Well, those times have been and gone. Social media is no longer the future of the Public Relations industry. It will still play an increasingly important part of business and consumer communication but is not a mysterious future concept. If a company wanted to learn about social media then there are many newspaper articles and blog posts which were written a couple of years ago which would generally still be up-to-date. Social networks may adapt over time and allow for different methods of digital conversation but the platform of social media has essentially not changed.
In some ways social media has existed since the early 1990s when bulletin boards, forum systems and instant messaging met the consumer market. It was only a matter of time before businesses realised the potential of these networks and would create a leading conversation to raise awareness of their sales.
During the first year of my Public Relations degree it became clear that most of us in the class seemed to think the purpose of Public Relations was to raise awareness. Whilst this might be true for Not-For-Profit organisations (leaving aside the purpose to raise funds), in a corporate environment awareness serves as a basic back bone and for that reason should never be mentioned as an aim for a Public Relations campaign. It is an inevitable outcome that could not be avoided if wished.
The purpose of Public Relations might to change the perception of a brand to cause increased sales, to discuss and demonstrate the benefits of a new web browser (such as IE 9) to increase download levels. Public Relations can serve many purposes all of which rely on that foundational stone of awareness. Are you able to think of a Public Relations campaign which doesn’t involve awareness?
In a couple of years Cloud Computing will start to take the world by storm and this raises many interesting questions for the Public Relations industry. How is it possible to raise the sales of a product which can only be found online? As actual applications become remote, how will this change social media? How are the messages of a brand to be communicate in a world which is entirely digital?
The trick with discussing the future tends not to be with the answers but instead dependent upon the questions. I may have asked the wrong questions here but it is tricky looking towards a future which has not been properly constructed yet. Cloud Computing isn’t just a reality, it is also a theory, which leaves human beings around the world to potentially become the next Bill Gates of the Cloud. Essentially Cloud Computing will allow a company to take ownership of the internet. A bit like Google…
Whilst the internet plays host to an array of self-proclaimed ‘social media experts’ (Perhaps the CIPR should try to introduce accreditation in the UK for this title?), social media will change once Cloud Computing arrives. Currently social networks exist as a website; be that StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, Myspace, Digg it… some of these sites have 3rd party applications but still the host site exists. Imagine if these services became purely application based. Instead Facebook wouldn’t be a website but instead a service which explains a remote algorithms for social networking.
I comprehend that my understanding of Cloud Computing goes against the believed norm of websites becoming increasingly graphical. The new part of the browser wars will be for web browser to become hardware accelerated. Finally the Graphics Processing Unit on the web will be useful. IE 9 examples this and it won’t be long before Mozilla and Google catch up. Although of course Microsoft will optimize for Windows which will still leave other browsers behind.
What if application based Cloud Services became a reality though? It would make a lot of sense. Current trends seem to suggest the “applification” of the internet. A mark to signify the death of the web browser. This might happen but I doubt it. There is no reason to believe why an application and web browser cannot sit side by side peacefully with each other. Plus wouldn’t an era of “applification” be against the remote services which Cloud Computing offers? Imagine the smartphone of the future access data constantly over 4g or wireless connections.
I know that Cloud Computing does have flaws. For instance, network disruption would render all pure Cloud-Centric devices worthless. I don’t think this down point should distract from a cloud based future though. Technology will always have its problems because humans are fallible. Remember the GIGA (Garbage In Garbage Out) concept from basic IT studies? This is something which will always exist… until AI takes over.