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Why Can't I Bring my Cloud-based Consumer Apps to Work?

05/14/2013 09:41 am ET | Updated Jul 14, 2013

If you're like most of us, you always keep your smartphone or tablet within arm's reach and have become accustomed to limitless access to information anytime and anywhere from an array of aesthetically designed, simple and user friendly apps.

Perhaps that's why the overall app market for smartphones and tablets grew to 13.4 billion downloads for the first quarter of this year. You can now find long-lost friends, crowd-source a network of thousands on an important decision, compare prices before a major purchase, manage your personal finances across several accounts, and make edits to your daughter's homework, all in real-time from your mobile device.

So, why is it that stepping into your office feels like stepping back in time?

Your expectations have changed. Networking with colleagues, identifying new business contacts, making cost-efficient purchasing decisions, managing your company's balance sheet and collaborating with colleagues should only be a few clicks away from wherever you are. The new standard of employee expectation in the workplace is driven by experiences at home, and the mobile and cloud revolution has transformed that reality.

The success of cloud-based consumer apps has affected the way we do business at work. We now expect to have quick and easy access to data at our fingertips as part of our daily toolbox. This is having a big impact on how organizations are supplying IT and changing the way tools are being delivered to an organization. This is called "The Consumerization of IT."

In a sense, the consumer world -- enabled by cloud -- is empowering business.

We can't slow the rising tide of expectations for workplace technology. People who work in HR, marketing and finance expect to have the same kind of collaborative tools at their fingertips as they do on their smartphones. Business leaders are hungry to make informed business decisions as quickly as possible. Cloud is the invisible thread behind both consumer apps and business tools that makes it possible.

Consumer apps have set new standards but there remain important considerations specific to the business world, including security and reliability. With more to lose from breaches in data security or downtime of business critical work, organizations must continue to demand industrial-strength IT.

Businesses need the best of both worlds: the simplicity and ease of the consumer world, with the security and reliability of traditional business applications. Industrial strength IT is important for countless reasons but let's just review a simple fact. It's OK for the weather or commuter train app on your smartphone to go down, because it only causes a personal inconvenience. But management and investors won't be as forgiving if the company's cloud for customer data delivers inaccurate information or fails to run properly during critical business cycles, such as the end of a quarter.

With security and reliability ensured, the convergence of social business, analytics and cloud along with the proliferation of mobile devices will continue to drive innovation. While we are already seeing how these technology trends can change the lives of consumers, business leaders should arm their workforce with the tools that employees need and expect.

To learn more about cloud computing, click here.