“I think there is a world market for about five computers.” This statement, attributed to IBM's founder Thomas Watson in around 1943, is classed as one of the world's worst predictions. But was Watson really so wrong? Or did he simply hop over the era when everyone had a PC and jumped straight to the cloud?
It recently struck me how little I actually own these days. My CD tower (from IKEA, of course) has long since been cleared out, my DVDs likewise, and my bookshelf is far from as full as those that once belonged to my parents and grandparents. Millennials – or Generation Y as we refer to ourselves – are rather unique in the sense that we have lived in a time when we could simply knock on someone's door to hear if they wanted to hang out with us. My generation as lived through – and remembers – the transformation from slow modems, WAP telephones, encyclopaedias and VHS players to a society where 'ownership' of consumption has taken on whole new behavioural patterns. The point is not to own a film or book; it's to be able to consume it whenever you want to. The same applies to photo albums; I don't have any bulky external hard disks or heavy photo albums lying around at home with pictures of (bonus) nephews; I have everything stored in the cloud, edited, ready and fireproofed.
My whole existence has been built on different cloud services so that I could have access to whatever I want, whenever I want at the click of the button. Even international services like Uber and AirBnB are cloud-based services from Amazon Web Services, Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud, which is something users never reflect on. And that's just what's so magical about cloud services; you don't need to reflect on, think about or figure out endless administrative details. Accommodation, taxis, music, images and everything else simply work smoothly and easily with just a few quick swipes on the phone.
One really good thing, now that cloud services has become a buzzword that is mentioned in briefings to managers and at staff meetings, is that companies and authorities are finally beginning to realise that cloud services are for everyone. On the other side of the coin, the 'cloud' is becoming too fluffy to be able to take in more. What can you use it for and what should you actually use it for? One way to demystify the cloud is to compare it with computer resources that are available on demand. And in the same way as I now don't have to own kilos of photo albums, CDs and DVDs, so companies and authorities don't have to own IT; they can consume IT and scale up when they need to instead. The trend cloud services is pointing straight up, and the pace of change and innovation accompanying it will develop symbiotically with our consumption patterns.
So what does this all mean? It means that Watson may well have been right, at least in part, and that the future may well consist of a maximum of five global cloud providers and that our data will be replaced by 'window devices' t[BM1] hat look for and connect to public cloud services. Was that what Watson meant? Maybe not – but he wasn't far off the mark.
/Rikard Swahn, Cloud Advisor, EVRY