Cloud computing is a term like many before it such as ‘broadband internet, ‘3G’ and even ‘social networks’ where many profess to know what it is yet it takes years for them to really understand it.

So much so that a recent survey for Citrix by Wakefield Research revealed that 51 per cent of Americans questioned said they believed cloud computing was affected by stormy weather. It also reported (somewhat less dramatically) that 95% didn’t even think they used the cloud even though most of them were.

While such confusion reigns it’s no surprise that the onset of cloud computing is going through something of a storm itself.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) means people are using their own smartphones (and tablets) for use at work as the company phone becomes as effete as the company car. But it is no longer about the device, now it is about the apps that the employee uses. Some have dubbed it BYOA (Bring Your Own Apps).

The Citrix report says that in the UK more than 90 per cent of organisations are seeing employees downloading their own apps for business use with almost two-thirds of these companies concerned about unmanaged app usage in the workplace and the effects it has on the privacy of that organisation’s data.

“Where the use of employee-owned devices is permitted, the employer must be conscious to ensure that the introduction of the employee-owned device into its network does not lower the standard of data security beyond the level required.

“At the same time however, employers must also think about their obligations to their employees. It may be that a ‘Choose Your Own Device’ policy, where employees can select what devices they wish to use for work purposes, could be a better solution,” said Luke Scanlon, Technology Lawyer at Pinsent Masons.

Bring or choose, the trend is for employees to use such tools for storage note-taking and free apps such as Skype for voice communications. The numbers are already impressive. Yammer has more than five million corporate users, Google apps has 40 million active users and Dropbox has more than 50 million users.

Kevin Freedman is CEO of SaaS company Kaboodle, which is a marketing project management platform that ‘plans and tracks, shares and collaborates, reviews and approves.

Moreover it is an example of a specific app that focuses on marketing campaign management, allowing multiple users to manage a large number of documents, approvals and content across territories and between brands and agencies.

“Over the last few years we’ve seen BYOD have a huge impact on organisational control of data and tools. Ten years ago the thought of unsanctioned software entering the corporate network would have sent IT departments into meltdown.

“BYOD has broken down the barriers and pushed Software as a Service (SaaS) to new levels and in effect created BYOA with tools such as Yammer, Huddle and ourselves working in the cloud, providing faster, better alternatives to traditional ‘command and control’ enterprise software,” he says.

Innovation is coming from customers and employees as they demand apps that work better for them than the prescribed software and processes offered by businesses historically. Already it seems clear that Cloud-based apps, while creating a clash of cultures in many organisations, are the future.

This view is iterated by Diana Easley, Director of User Insights at Skype who emphasises the multi-platform element of BYOA.

“Employees want to choose the devices and applications that are right for them, and that’s why we have invested in building Skype around the mobile platforms people are using every day: Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

“In our view, ensuring that apps are able to work across multiple platforms and available to all employees both at home and in the office is the next step for BYOA and BYOD,” she says.

So, whether Cloud Computing will suffer in a thunderstorm or if the phrase itself is over-used, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it will have a profound impact on the way we use our devices and live our working lives. Like its predecessors of broadband internet, 3G and social media, it is not only here to stay, it’s also here to change.

Source: The Telegraph