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The Human Factor in Cloud’s Next Big Thing

Are we trying to understand which subset technology or component part of the cloud model is set to grow next?

Where will the cloud computing model of service-based virtualized computing resources for data storage and processing grow next? This is arguably the biggest question facing technology analysts today - and if we knew the answer we could all probably sleep a little more soundly.

Before we can answer this question, perhaps we need to break it down and determine what exactly we are really trying to clarify.

Are we trying to understand which subset technology or component part of the cloud model is set to grow next? If so then we need to focus our efforts on analysis of Infrastructure (or Platform, or Software) -as-a-Service expansion as compared to Data (or Backup, or Disaster Recovery) -as-a-Service in order to pinpoint the true hotbed of cloud development.

Alternatively, we could simply try and make some informed conjecture as to which industry vertical is about grow most vibrantly. Yes indeed, it could well be financial services and health care if we get ourselves past some fundamental security concerns.

Perhaps we should pick a more generic level and suggest that cloud-based Process-as-a-Service options are about to grow like they are on steroids. As generic as that term sounds, we can also be more specific when we use the term ‘process' and expand it to Business Processes-as-a-Service.

What Is Business Processes-as-a-Service?
Business Processes-as-a-Service (or BPaaS if you will) pronounced [bē-păss] is a combination of Software-as-a-Service and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). It is therefore the services-based delivery of applications that are used by business process service provider personnel, if that doesn't sound too tautological.

This area of application (whether cloud service-based or not) includes corporate performance management and financial performance management apps. As these functions move to the cloud, security fears come to the fore and the separation of mission-critical from mission-specific data must now be drawn, as we consider which data can reside where, when using public and hybrid cloud environments.

While security fears still overshadow many companies' willingness to place their financial planning, business forecasting and customer analysis in the public cloud, we find that we need to break Business Processes-as-a-Service down still further. If financial performance management is too sensitive to put in the public cloud, then does it have a close enough cousin who might be better suited?

Human Capital Management-as-a-Service
A ‘business processes' in itself, Human Capital Management-as-a-Service (or HCMaaS) may sound like a mouthful, but this may indeed be (let's stick our neck out here then) the next big thing in cloud computing growth.

Let's look at the facts. HP acquired information management firm Autonomy back in 2011 and within the firm's arsenal is Autonomy Process Automation (APA), a business process management (BPM) solution that in the company's own words "Embraces the unstructured and human element of business process, providing workers with all of the information required to make sound business decisions."

Dig a little deeper, February 2012 saw SAP acquire SuccessFactors, a provider of cloud-based so-called ‘business execution' software. This is the type of stuff used to deliver business alignment, team execution, people performance and learning management solutions.

It doesn't stop there, this year also saw Oracle acquire cloud-based human resources software concern Taleo - and then we saw Salesforce acquire Social employee performance management firm Rypple.

Put simply, the (near) future of cloud is extremely human.

While major vendors continue to roll out cloud-based financials packages with gay abandon, the HCMaaS market appears to be somewhat more of an identifiable bellwether entity between at least now and the end of the current 12-month period.

Cloud predictions extending beyond roughly six months are, after all, rarely worth giving credence to, so stay tuned for the next weather forecast.

•   •   •

This post was first published on the Enterprise CIO Forum.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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