Just a few years ago, some industry experts dismissed cloud computing as just the latest technology fad, good for generating a lot of buzz but offering little practical value. Today, the cloud has arrived and has been widely acknowledged by analysts and companies alike as a major force in significantly altering the entire IT landscape, from how data centers are built, to how software is deployed, to how upgrades are handled, and beyond.

Given the vital role that IT plays in today's business environment, cloud computing is also fundamentally changing the way that companies operate. Tens of thousands of companies of all sizes in a broad range of industries are utilizing cloud-based software, platforms, and even infrastructure to streamline processes, lower IT complexity, gain better visibility, and reduce costs.

With the pace of change accelerating even more, what will the future of cloud computing bring? Here are five cloud computing trends to watch.

  1. Adoption of cloud computing will continue to grow rapidly
    It's clear that cloud computing is anything but a flash in the pan. In fact, cloud computing is poised for dramatic growth—even on top of the incredible gains it has experienced over the past few years.

    Today, almost a quarter of companies already use cloud-based applications, and more than 10 percent plan to expand their use of cloud computing1. When measured in dollars, the growth is even more striking: In 2008, revenue from worldwide cloud services was $46.4 billion; in 2013, it is expected to reach $150 billion, a jump of just over 225 percent.2 Cloud computing is well on its way to becoming the preferred technology deployment model for companies around the globe.

  2. The future of cloud computing is mobile
    The popularity of mobile devices—such as smart phones and tablets—is also having a major impact on the business world. Instead of being tied to desks in an office, today's workers can use their mobile devices to do their jobs at any time from just about anywhere.

    The flexibility demanded by the mobile workforce is one of the key reasons cloud computing is on the rise. The anytime, anywhere access that cloud-based applications provide is ideal for workers who are always on the go. Rather than having to stop by the office to use their desktop computers, employees can simply log into an application with a web-enabled device like a smartphone or tablet and perform their task in the cloud.

    More and more companies are realizing the convenience and productivity benefits of using mobile-friendly cloud computing applications to manage business data. For example, experts predict that more than a third of business intelligence functionality will be consumed via handheld devices by 2013.3
  3. The cloud will become more global
    In many ways, the cloud is already global—after all, companies all over the world are using cloud-based tools every day. However, as cloud services continue to evolve, they will allow an ever-greater degree of communication and collaboration across organizations of all sizes. In practice, this will mean more systems will be able to operate seamlessly across multiple locations by providing local capabilities like multi-currency financial tools and multi-language interfaces, among many others.

  4. Companies become more "frictionless" thanks to the cloud
    By facilitating access to accurate information and making communication easier, the cloud is ideal for breaking down barriers, both internally—between departments or individual staff members—or externally, between customers and customer service employees, for example. When obstacles are removed, companies lose the friction points that used to slow them down. Automated supply chains and dashboards that display real-time data are just two examples of cloud-enabled tools that are on the rise and helping to make companies increasingly "frictionless."

  5. Social tools will bring increased collaboration to the cloud
    Cloud-based applications aren't just more flexible than traditional on-site software, they can be more social too. Why is this so important? Today, users expect to have social tools such as chat and micro-blogging to improve collaboration. As people become more accustomed to these tools—and start to prefer them to "traditional" tools like email—customers will want to use them to communicate with fellow employees, customers, and prospects.

    Cloud software will increasingly go social and it will become an integral part of the way companies manage business data. Because cloud computing is natively web-based and upgrades are automatically rolled out to cloud solutions on a regular basis, expect this capability to evolve quickly.

The future can be notoriously hard to predict, but cloud computing is certain to continue having a significant effect on business operations. Learn about the benefits of a cloud-based solution.

1. http://outbound-call-center.tmcnet.com/topics/hosted-call-center/articles/177198-23-percent-north-american-european-firms-use-saas.htm
2. https://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=920712
3. https://softwarestrategiesblog.com/2011/01/01/roundup-of-cloud-computing-forecasts-and-market-estimates-2011/

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