To The Cloud: Is The New Microsoft Ad Campaign The Tipping Point?

The technology world is a funny place. Trends come and go, and create huge buzz within the community. You can attend different Tech events each year and everyone is talking about disaster recovery, or unified communications. And yet when the working day is over, you go home and you take on a slightly different persona – because people in the real world have no knowledge, and even less interest in what goes on in Technology land.

The vast majority of my time is spent talking in real business terms, because for all the buzz around Cloud, when I speak with MD’s, CEO’s, Sales Directors or Marketing Directors there isn’t the understanding of what this really ‘means’ for them and their teams.

I was watching the television with my wife a couple of weeks ago and in an Ad break a Microsoft commercial came on, featuring a lady editing and sharing photos online. Up came the strapline “To the Cloud – with Microsoft”.

My wife nearly spat her drink across the table. “What….is that Cloud as in your Cloud?”

I too was surprised and really excited to see this Ad campaign start. ”Yes, that is the Cloud as in our Cloud” (although we work with Google and Salesforce.com instead of Microsoft). Three days later I was driving through London to a client meeting when I saw a London bus with the same “To the Cloud” campaign plastered across the side of it. I nearly crashed the car!

It is really exciting for all of us that Microsoft are investing heavily in pushing the word “Cloud” out of the Technology class, and into the homes of the world. Into teenagers who want to manage their lives on line, into the older generations who want to keep in contact with long lost friends, into those using Online banking or online shopping. What you are doing is “in the Cloud”.

The Consumerisation of Technology

There is a big trend at the moment – the Consumerisation of Technology. Only a few years ago if you wanted to see the best of what the Technology market could offer you went to your office – there was a snazzy PC, a massive printer/copier, some Enterprise software and a big connection to the internet. At home you had an old desktop PC, big clunky keyboard, no cool software and either no internet connection, or a 56K dial-up which was no use.

But today the roles have reversed. At home you might have a 50MB cable connection, a new laptop and you access all your services from the internet – banking, Facebook, Internet shopping, YouTube.

When I was at Salesforce’s Cloudforce event in London in September, CEO Marc Benioff made a slightly tongue in cheek comment that if you want to see what technology looked like ten years ago you don’t need to go to a museum – you just need to sign up for a job at your local enterprise employer.

Businesses have been slower to adopt new technologies than their employees – and rightly so – there need to be checks and balances before rushing off to a new way of working. Additionally huge investments have been made in on-premise software and hardware – Microsoft, Oracle, Lotus, SAP – Companies aren’t going to bin these over night.

But with Microsoft now pushing the term “Cloud” into your home, the consumerisation of technology will only accelerate. Young people joining the job market are going to be coming from a Cloud world and when they walk into the office and get given a PC, with software on it, and a VPN connection they are going to look very bemused.

“Can’t I just access everything from the Cloud?”

The idea of building a data castle, with a big moat around it, and then bringing down a data drawbridge to allow your employees to work properly is not sustainable.

We see Microsoft’s “To the Cloud” campaign as a the tipping point, and believe we will look back to December 2010 as the time when the Cloud market moved from Technology to the Real World.

Have you seen the Microsoft Ad campaign? What did you think of it?

Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.