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The evolution of the office

May 2, 2012 / Scott Kinka

International Data Corporation, in conjunction with Microsoft, recently announced research that suggested that by 2015, the cloud will add 14 million jobs across the globe. It’s safe to say that we’ve crossed the chasm (thanks Geoffrey), at least in terms of acceptance of the cloud as the way businesses will use technology in the future.

The question is no longer, “Are you in the cloud?” But rather, “What are you using it for?”

Unfortunately, just when we think people are starting to “get” the cloud, a new level of confusion is being introduced by the cloud providers themselves. This is particularly true of new entrants to the market and traditional companies changing their model to be more cloud-like (feel free to read between the lines).

As soon as the industry settles on terms to describe itself (like public, private, and hybrid clouds), its members use those terms against each other. I want to assure you that Evolve IP is not adding to this confusion.

As the name implies, Evolve IP is focused on evolving business technology to be delivered and supported over IP. In executing that mission, we describe our products in terms of how the products are used. Our Evolved Network services focus on how businesses connect to the cloud. Evolved Data Center services help IT departments cloudsource their back-office infrastructure. The Evolved Office suite focuses on the applications and services that end users need to conduct business.

I confess that the latter might create some of its own cloud confusion.

When people say “office suite,” they’re typically referring to Microsoft Office or a competing product from Apple, Google, or an open source project (OpenOffice, LibreOffice). With any one of these products, you’re likely looking at a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, picture editor, etc.

When folks at Evolve IP talk about an office suite, we’re talking about more than desktop software. That was revolutionary 25 years ago. What’s revolutionary today is a cloud platform that actually IS your office.

Before you say that Microsoft is already doing that with Office 365, let me preempt that by saying that Microsoft is simply moving its traditional collection of apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook with Exchange) to the cloud. Office is delivered as a web application (like Google Apps) or installed locally with the license managed from the cloud. It’s not virtualizing the user’s Windows desktop; in fact, it’s not all that different from what you use today.

Evolving your office means more than Microsoft Office in the cloud. Evolving your office means evolving the way you work. Users need access to a full Windows desktop with their line of business applications, communications and mobility, email, voicemail and fax, calendaring and collaboration, end user security, and backup. Try that with Office 365.

Most importantly, users don’t use these applications one at a time. They use them at the same time. They add new contact information to their phone that they find in their email. They take phone calls and then reference the interaction in their CRM or Outlook Journal. They leave the office, take phone calls, and need access to data on their office PC to assist clients or make the sale.

And they’re figuring out how to do it on their own. They’re leveraging public cloud apps, like Dropbox on their personal devices, to access critical business information. They’re using Google Talk and pointing it to their mobile phone and office line. They’re trying to leverage the convenience of consumer applications to solve business problems. Why? Because the office suite (as they know it) has yet to truly evolve.

The consumerization of IT has begun. Users demand access to their data, applications, and communications wherever they are. It’s time to accept it and start preparing for it by broadening the definition of the office suite to actually include the entire office. That’s the Evolved Office.


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