Since the onset of the digital age, the speed of change or transformation is picking up. No sooner have we labelled Cloud 1.0, 2.0 and Cloud 3.0, than we’re staring version 4.0 in the face.

To recap

Cloud has fundamentally transformed every aspect of information technology. And it’s entirely prevalent across every industry. Today, business performance is intrinsically linked to its adoption. When it comes to Cloud, if you snooze you lose…

The first phase of cloud – Cloud 1.0 – was largely focused on software as a service – the move from the physical to the virtual transformed the business model of enterprise software. Cloud 2.0 sought to unlock the value in the increasing pool of data that our online activities generate. Cloud 3.0 – also known as the Big Compute –covered the emergence of hybrid cloud, server-less computing and micro-services architecture.

The fourth wave

The fourth wave of the Cloud Revolution is largely defined by analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), automation of all kinds, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

AI quite simply is intelligence demonstrated by machines, or behaviour which mimics human reasoning, planning, learning, knowledge, problem solving etc. It extends to machine learning – defined as a computer using large amounts of data to learn how to carry out a specific task – and neural networks which use interconnected layers of algorithms (neurons) which exchange data and can be trained to carry out specific tasks with a variety of data translation.

IoT sees the extension of connectivity into every day objects which are enabled to communicate and interact via the Internet and which can be remotely monitored and controlled.

Industry 4.0

Any attempt to Google Cloud 4.0 will demonstrate that it’s intrinsically linked to Industry 4.0. Thanks to the digital revolution, the physical and the virtual worlds have long since merged. The old idea of industry as a purely physical entity is long gone. Building on the third Industrial Revolution, which used IT and electronics to automate production, Industry 4.0 transcends the factory walls and is entirely facilitated by Cloud 4.0. In our hyper-connected world, the fusion of technologies enabled by Cloud 4.0 is resulting in automation and digitisation to an unprecedented degree.

The challenges

With Cloud Computing at the heart of every industry and boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds increasingly blurred, challenges for Cloud 4.0 abound.  Amidst today’s landscape of cyber terrorism, security is absolutely paramount – the inevitable breaches can bring down the biggest of brands if speed and scale of response is found wanting. But efforts to keep data of every kind secure have impacted user experience, introducing friction, which – frankly – the sophisticated customer will not countenance. Indeed, friction threatens the stability of any business’s consumer base. The challenge here is to keep data safe, while offering a speedy, agile and increasingly personalised user experience.

The future of Cloud

One thing we can predict is the rise and rise of the vertical Cloud – or Cloud tailored to the needs of a specific industry, for example patient care or banking. The vertical Cloud is a new market, which is well and truly open for business. Not all Cloud solutions are created equal, and as the global increase in Cloud applications continues, both businesses in particular and industries in general need to find specific solutions that meet their individual needs.

As Cloud platforms mature, the realisable benefits are clear – reach and scale, simplicity, security, cost savings and so on. What is less clear are the future possibilities that Cloud technology will enable, support and expand. It’s hard to imagine where Cloud will take us next.

Four Business Solutions

Four Business Solutions helps small and multi-national organisations enrich the way they work. From supply chain to procurement and contract management, we have decades of experience helping companies forge ahead in the global market. If you’d like to find out more please call John O’Brien at Four Business Solutions on 0800 6250 025.

John O’Brien is the CEO at Four Business Solutions, global business consultants and software integrators providing business processes improvements in Finance, Supply Chain & Operations, across a broad range of industries.