It’s no surprise that the world we know today is no longer separated from technology. At IBM we’re seeing transformational shifts with the emergence of cloud computing, but lately I’ve been thinking about its practical applications and impact on everyday lives.
With the proliferation of internet, wireless and mobile technology, new customers and new markets have emerged. This week’s IBM Cloud Event 2014 in Hong Kong was a perfect opportunity to host a panel featuring leaders from various industries including retail, technology, wireless and gaming to get their thoughts on how cloud computing is transforming the way people do business.
In this post I want to share viewpoints from each of the panelists to give added perspective to the impact of cloud computing on our lives, often without us knowing it.
I kicked off the panel with Mr. Sze Yan Ngai, chairman of Gameone.com and of the Hong Kong Gaming Industry Association to discuss how the cloud has impacted online gaming. He shared that game developers’ ability to leverage the cloud has resulted in the evolution of online gaming—from computer games to online entertainment across Facebook and mobile devices.
Companies can now use cloud computing platforms to quickly scale their businesses. This has had an profound impact on content and social engagement, resulting in the following key future trends:
- Cross media – Consumers demanding more cross media content as they are no longer satisfied with consuming content through only a single form medium.
- Cross platform – Multi-platform development and expanded revenue opportunities now that consumers can play games on their computers, smartphones or even smart TVs.
- Cross boundary – Need for online makers to scale their businesses beyond Hong Kong to Taiwan, China and rest of world to generate more revenue and build a sustainable business.
The cloud’s ability enable businesses to scale and lower start-up costs has led to an influx of start-ups. Statistics show that there have been 7,449 companies that have set up their global headquarters in Hong Kong, with a whopping 70 percent growth in the number of start-ups alone in only three years.
This led me to ask Charles Ng of Invest Hong Kong about the role of the cloud in objectives and development plans for StartmeupHK, the Hong Kong government’s initiative to provide start-ups from around the world with the resources to set up and utilize Hong Kong as a platform for business development.
He had much to share on the impact of cloud platform adoption on a place like Hong Kong, which already offers one of the world’s most advanced business infrastructures. With the cloud as a virtual enabler of business and its relevancy to various industries, his hope is that StartmeupHK’s initiatives will attract the best and most creative start-ups from all over the world by positioning Hong Kong as the “ideal place for companies to start their business and extend their networks globally.”
Given the increasing role that apps and our phones play in our daily lives, I asked Nelson Tse from Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association about the role of mobile apps when it comes to work-life integration. With the world being transformed by the cloud and becoming smaller through less boundaries, he noted the difference in which businesses interact and engage with customers and employees.
This phenomenon of data and cloud causing enterprises and communities to engage differently with individuals is no less apparent in the retail sector. Today’s fast-paced retailing industries call for a systematic approach to engagement for traditional retailers to be competitive. Having spoken to a few retailers about the benefits and potential risks of the cloud on their business, I asked our panelist Clarence Chan, vice chairman of the Retail Technology Industry Association to share his thoughts on the challenges that the retail industry is facing with online and particularly mobile shopping.
According to Clarence, the current explosion of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets combined with the cloud and big data have facilitated a better shopping experience, benefitting both customers and businesses. By changing the level of engagement and interaction, retailers can enhance the customer journey and create a personalized shopping experience offline and online.
Based on the input I received, I thought I’d share the following takeaways and key learnings from the panel:
- Flexibility – Or as we say in our industry, “on demand.” To cope with business needs, there should be flexibility in acquiring, delivering and paying for IT resources. Cloud middleware services like BlueMix provide the tools to build enterprise class cloud applications at a consumer scale.
- Low entry to barrier – For companies, start-up costs can be challenging when it comes to investing a large sum of money in IT at the beginning. On demand subscription services or payment models are viable alternatives for companies who need justification in early investments and reasonable returns.
- Go global – As our panelists mentioned, Hong Kong is a gateway to opportunities in China and a regional base for expansion across Asia. To develop in bigger markets and reinforce Hong Kong’s international status, companies can access the cloud to reinvent core business processes and innovate.
Alan Chan, Cloud Advocate