It’s a well-known cliche that if you ask a hundred people what “The Cloud” is, you’ll get a hundred different answers. And if you step out of The Industry and ask everyday consumers, it is very likely that many respondents will say that they have definitely heard of “The Cloud”…. but they’re just not quite sure what it is.

Here at Compare the Cloud we (quite naturally) love “The Cloud” – it brings to mind a quotation from one of my favourite films. In the film, “Annie Hall,” Alvy Singer tells Annie, quite matter-of-factly that, “A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” Luckily for this particular shark, “The Cloud” is moving forward. More than that, it’s growing, developing and evolving.

Mou Mukherjee, Head of Registry Operations, .Cloud has stated that, “the meaning of ‘cloud’ for consumers and business users will shift, as it gets more known for the ability to provide dynamic capabilities such as real-time number crunching and self-learning.”

'the meaning of 'cloud' for consumers and business users will shift, as it gets more known for the ability to provide dynamic capabilities such as real-time number crunching and self-learning.' -> read moreClick To Tweet

For instance, the cloud is now a crucial tool for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). 2018 is only a few weeks old, and all the indicators are that we are set for a year of significant growth and developments in these areas. There are many consumer applications which either already rely on, or will increasing utilise, cloud and AI. These applications include crowdsourcing, virtual reality and product virtualisation, to mention just a few. According to IDC, in 2018, 50 percent of manufacturers will be collaborating directly with customers via the cloud.

Mou continued by telling us, “take virtual assistants and bots for example. Having taken off in the consumer world, we will see ‘virtual assistants’ transforming our business lives. AI assistants are the future, from scheduling meetings, to taking and sending meeting notes, to providing real-time answers from sales and marketing platforms. These advancements are only possible with the evolution of the cloud.”

The buzzwords of yesterday will be the new revenue streams of today and tomorrow.

More and more new technologies, underpinned by the cloud, will be utilised in the coming months. Manufacturing and industrial brands will be exploiting these not just for optimisation and automation, but looking at how these technologies can go even further beyond what’s currently possible to create innovative services for their customers. The buzzwords of yesterday will be the new revenue streams of today and tomorrow. In our ‘always on’, ‘right now’ society, the brands that can provide their customers with valuable real-time data will have a huge competitive advantage over those that lag behind. And as any business owner knows, word of mouth is an incredibly powerful tool to build – or crush – your business: utilise the Cloud to its fullest, otherwise it’ll more likely be the latter than the former.

IoT is almost synonymous with “The Cloud” – could part of the evolution of Cloud in the coming year be that the term “IoT” becomes obsolete? Not the technology, and not the applications of that technology – just the acronym itself? In an industry that loves acronyms, it is perhaps difficult to imagine one of those precious TLA’s being killed off, but IoT is so reliant on Cloud technologies, and what we understand as “The Cloud” is expanding so much, that this is a real possibility.

But we live in the here and the now, so – for the moment – we’ll continue to use the term IoT. According to Saleforce’s, “The State of Service in Manufacturing” report, manufacturers’ most common use for IoT is diagnostic data. In the report, 71% of manufacturers agree that IoT data is key to increasing customer retention. Mou Mukherjee predicts that this percentage will be close to 100% by the end of 2018.

The Cloud isn’t going anywhere. Yes, it will change and evolve. It will be a constantly moving shark: it will fully absorb areas that we currently consider separate, and it may well shed things that have been part of the landscape for a long time. One thing that is for certain, however, is that in a year’s time, if you ask a hundred different people what is meant by, “The Cloud” you will still more than likely to get a hundred different answers.