Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Andy Thurai

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing Turns Virtual Teams Into a Competitive Advantage

Collaboration in the cloud will fundamentally change the business ecosystem

The rise of modern information systems represented a major change to the business environment and increased the importance of collaboration. Companies as diverse as Toyota, Wal-Mart, and Dell Computer demonstrated the power of collaboration to improve the efficiency of the supply chain, at least at a massive scale. By electronically linking their factories, stores, and suppliers, these manufacturers used collaboration to achieve cost and service advantages over their competitors with just-in-time manufacturing and a build-to-order business model. Their collaboration took the form of ERP, EDI, and supply-chain management, and largely consisted of teaching computers to talk with one another.

Yet while collaboration during this time period proved a critical, sometimes determining, factor in business success, collaboration remained a large-scale process. Just-in-time manufacturing and cross-docking made sense for giants like Toyota and Wal-Mart, but it was hard to see their relevance for small businesses.

Paradoxically, it took the Internet Age - founded on teaching computers to talk with one another - to make collaboration personal again. The Internet places communications and coordination within the affordable reach of every business. No longer do you need a complex (and expensive) network of leased lines and dedicated hardware to integrate with your supplier. Instead, anyone with a computer can connect and communicate with anyone else. With the rise of cloud computing, you can even rent that computing power from the likes of Amazon.

Before the Internet age, stitching together a multinational operation required millions of dollars in capital equipment, thousands a month in telecom expenditures, and a massive IT staff to oversee that infrastructure. Today, you can hire developers in Bangalore (oDesk.com), a call center in Manila (LiveOps.com), and a warehouse in Memphis (Shipwire.com) with a few clicks of the mouse without ever leaving your office or even picking up the phone.

But while making it dramatically easier to bring people together around a common task, the Internet magnifies the challenge of coordinating and managing those people and organizations.

The first attempts to build virtual corporations back in the 1990s failed, largely because of this very challenge. People in organizations don't just conduct simple transactions. They collaborate to solve problems, to meet customer demands, to respond to competitors, to design new products. The hundreds of decisions that they make every day - even in a small business - impact other people and organizations, often in unanticipated ways. A successful virtual corporation must not only reduce the cost of virtual interaction, it must address the unstructured, dynamic, and creative aspects of much real-world business interactions and the management of those interactions.

Today, for the first time ever, Web 2.0 and cloud computing make it possible to solve the final challenge of coordination and management.

If Web 1.0 was about making the Web "World Wide," Web 2.0 has been about making the Web "personal," and cloud computing is about making the Web "ubiquitous."

The two keys to solving the coordination challenge are semi-structured data and ubiquitous access in the cloud.

Semi-structured data provides an online replacement for the tacit knowledge and implicit agreements that are so essential in a traditional business. Think about how much of what every business does is based on the unwritten rules and institutional knowledge that live in the heads of individual professionals. This operational know-how, often varying based on circumstances, and transmitted in the hallways and conference rooms as well as around the lunch table, was missing from the last generation of virtual corporations.

Web 2.0 services like blogs and wikis provide an online outlet for this kind of semi-structured information. Blogs and blog comments are a substitute for traditional informal interaction, while wikis can record the operational knowhow that used to be passed on during informal face-to-face meetings and working together.

At the same time, the ubiquity of the cloud helps overcome the previous need to house all the members of the team under one roof (or within one firewall). Virtual private networks impose too much friction on those attempting to connect from the outside, and generate far too many security concerns. Cloud solutions can place every member of the team on an equal footing and allow members to collaborate across geographic and organizational boundaries.

Yet while Web 2.0 and cloud computing have made virtual corporation possible, they are technologies, not applications. Businesses and teams need to learn how best to apply these technologies to generate real business gains, especially in the current economic environment.

How Does Collaboration Help Me Do More With Less?
While collaboration in the cloud has many soft benefits like allowing greater geographic diversity and encouraging a participatory culture, during these tough times, the hard benefits of collaboration take center stage. The bottom line is that collaboration helps you do more with less, and by definition, virtual companies and teams are all about less. Less time. Less money. Less inefficiency. Less employees.

Here are four practical ways that collaboration in the cloud enables businesses (virtual and otherwise) to do more with less:

  1. Ditch your servers
  2. Cut down on travel
  3. Enable outsourcing and offshoring
  4. Improve knowledge worker productivity

1. Ditch Your Servers
RMC Vanguard Mortgage is an established company in a traditional industry that's turned to collaboration and virtual company tactics to survive and thrive during turbulent times.

Few industries have been hit harder by the credit crunch than the mortgage industry. Yet through it all, RMC Vanguard (an independent mortgage company based in Houston that serves customers in over 25 states) has continued to grow. Its network of loan officers, most of whom work from their homes, acts like virtual company. It's critical that RMC's underwriters be able to serve the needs of those loan officers while still keeping up to speed on the rapidly changing rules and regulations of the mortgage industry.

RMC CTO Teo Mayes had been using a shared server to store and distribute this constantly changing information, but found that (1) it was hard to give access to geographically dispersed loan officers who sat outside the corporate infrastructure and had to log into a terminal access port to reach the server; (2) frustrated loan officers would simply call the underwriters instead of keeping up to speed, bogging down those valuable employees; and (3) the technical team was spending time and money maintaining the hardware and network.

More Stories By Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh is Vice President of Enterprise Marketing, PBwiki.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
shirley 12/12/08 01:05:06 AM EST

We can assist here as we specialize in developing and implementing SharePoint 2007 – that’s all we do.

There is more information on this at http://www.nsynergy.com/Services/Pages/default.aspx or mail to [email protected].

FastRoundTrip 12/11/08 01:30:37 PM EST

Well put. Collaboration is definitly the future of surviving and thriving business. And not just for asynchronous collab, on the real-time side, there's a lot of excitement too. For example, http://see.nefsis.com uses true cloud computing to reduce latency in desktop sharing and live multiparty video. Cloud computing makes a fundamental improvement in roundtrip latency here, unobtainable by single-server and centralized technologies.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER gives detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPOalso offers sp...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...