Aug 25, 2010 8:51:36 PM - Teemu Arina
Cloud has been used as a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud computing has been used as a metaphor for a technological paradigm shift in the way how we run and utilize software and information on the internet.
Software ranging from spreadsheets to online collaboration environments are moving from single workstations and servers to a geographically distributed platform on the web. What we are talking about here is a digital rainforest build by clever tech wizards from the depths of companies like Amazon, Google and alike. They are making server resources and service platforms available in a similar manner as you would receive electricity from a wall socket: you pay only for the resources you consume.
The services running on this digital ecosystem are not necessarily the work of a single vendor. A new generation of a service lends, combines and utilizes high-level features based on a mashup logic from multiple different sources. A good example would be combining a third party map service (e.g. Google Maps) with interesting data from elsewhere and releasing it as a new application for others to combine to their existing solutions.
In a similar manner, on top of this distributed technical platform networked information and the craftsmen working on it may as well be distributed on a network. The data could be combined from multiple sources and would operate as a central core for the service. Imagine a video aggregation service, that utilizes video content from multiple sources. Or a modern example of digital craftsmen would be a distributed workforce – a kind of a netforce utilizing agile collaborative practices – available on-demand as a resource, just as water would be to your house.
A connecting factor for technological and cultural development today would be the fact that both are heading towards distributed networks and principles of self-organization.
Technology, culture and their combination
This year Gartner predicts, that by the year 2012 about 20% of companies would not own their server resources. Alongside with the boom to outsource workstations, corporate IT services will move to the cloud. This would change the operational logic of organizations in a fundamental way.
Cloud computing is still a very technologically deterministic idea of how technology would steer our cultural development and social behavior in the future. An opposite view would see culture as a key driver for technological development: we develop web based cloud services because more efficient problem solving and better collaboration between people requires decentralization of technological resources for cooperation.
Personally I would rather see technology and culture as intertwingled together in a way, that reveals us an even more meaningful way to map what is going on in the midst of the current paradigm shift. In the words of Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, “we shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.”
The emergence of the Cloud Company
In the context of our culture, internet and cloud services are transforming our ways of organizing collective action: there are pressures to change the way how our companies, associations and government institutions are organized due to digitalization.
Several web based startups are born around the ideas of decentralization: team members, technology infrastructure, operational logic and customers are all distributed around the world because it is more cost effective and impactful approach to do so.
Internet dramatically lowers the coordination and transaction costs of cooperative action. As organizations decentralize elements of their infrastructure, service development, customer interaction, management, leadership and work related processes at the same time on the technological and cultural level, I would envision the emergence of a new form of organization: a kind of a Cloud Company.
This new organizational type would utilize latest advancements in distributed technology and organizational patterns grounded in digitally mediated social interaction. The boundaries between workers, customers and management becomes blurry and the logic transforms into something that is much more like a self-organizing, self-governing cloud.
networks, cloud company, service design, netforce, self organization, digitalization, social media, culture, organization, management