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/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/276374_l_srgb_s_gl_506309.jpgIs your company ready for the coming cohort of “Cloud Natives” ?

My daughter (16) saw me recently preparing yet another Powerpoint deck about Cloud. So she asked “Dad, like, what’s cloud?”. After stripping out the fragments of teenspeak, I launched on to one of my corporate pitches about cloud that I give , carefully explaining that the benefits of cloud have moved on from IT savings to flexibility and innovation.

Blank look. Nothing in her life is not cloud.

Teenagers live their life flitting between devices, leaving a trail of blogs, texts, updates, pictures, music and videos all over. The very idea of worrying about where data is stored, or how applications are constructed is as important to them as my knowing about how a carburettor works. To one generation, the corpus of knowledge that “everybody knows” becomes arcana that only a hobbyist would care about.

Talking about life BC (Before Cloud) requires us to discuss how applications are written, sold, and installed. Most teenagers have never even inserted a CD into a computer to install a piece of software. In fact my daughter is a bit hazy on the difference between a CD, an LP and a 78: they all seem equally antique. So having a discussion about Cloud requires a comparison with non-Cloud, and there are almost no examples of that in her life: she merrily uses GMail, DropBox, Tumblr, Picassa, Facebook or Angry Birds which seem to magically move from Tablet to Phone to Wii to Smart TV with all of the data. When we bought a new TV, we typed in a password and suddenly all of our pictures appeared on the TV. I was the only one impressed.

Apart from appearing hip to your kids (a lost cause in my case) what does this have to do with your decision on how to move to the cloud?

My daughter will be entering the workforce in 5 years: she will be one of the first cohort of “Cloud Natives” who will be joining companies ready to start work. If their first IT experience involves imaging a laptop, using shared drives, installing MS-Outlook plug-ins then they won’t be happy or efficient. All of the systems of engagement that your employees use need to be understandable by a Cloud Native.

5 years isn’t very long for an IT strategy. You need to assume that traditional on-Premise Client Server systems will be incomprehensible to a Cloud Native. Any IT roadmap needs to adjust to this reality: the transition is happening fast. You can’t afford to miss out on the creativity and energy of the coming generation.

If you are not sure how to accelerate your path to the cloud, take a look at sap.com/cloud for ideas, inspiration and information on Hybrid Cloud approaches.

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4 Comments

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  1. Kunal Pandya

    Great post.  Going forward, I can imagine lack of cloud, lack of usability and experience being reasons for talent retention issues – specifically to the Cloud natives.

    “21 year old employees, do not want to use 21 year old software”

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  2. Chris Paine

    I’m not in my teens, (thank goodness) but even I am frustrated by lack of obvious application of cloud applications in businesses.  I scream with frustration when being forced to use Outlook I get an email that my mailbox is full. I mean seriously? I’m at 20% of my 20GB usage of my own email, and that stuff’s FREE! A 70Mb limit on my network email storage, are you for real?! WTF people? (sorry, I seem to be adopting a bit of teen speak…) 😉

    Great article and great points to consider.

    Tomorrow is not going to be the same as today, so don’t plan on using yesterday’s technologies to deliver it.

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  3. Franck DUPAS

    My daughter is 15. She is very much like yours for all what is related to apps, pictures, music, videos and movies. But what about books? Mine is still reading paper books. That’s on-premise when we buy them, isn’t it? My favourite comparison to explain cloud is when we borrow the books at the public library. The public library is a cloud for books.

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  4. Jeff Shuey

    Great Post. You are spot on in that we need to adapt our businesses, our processes and our thinking to adapt the the soon to be prevalent Gen Z community.

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