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Although the market sees the use of social technologies and mobility as well as big data and analytics as separate trends, many, including SAP, are beginning to see them as essentially connected, with the cloud bringing them all together. From a software application perspective, vendors should focus on bringing these capabilities together to help companies perform better in business and better manage their people, money, customers, and suppliers.

For example, big data in the cloudis an emerging technology that Gartner describes as transformational. Gartner believes that businesses that can leverage big data, resulting from the exponential increase in data volumes, to their benefit will outperform their competitors. Big data aggregation and analytics leveraging the cloud can, for example, support customer intimacy programs, helping companies to better understand their customers’ preferences.

Mobile cloud computing, i.e. services provided via the cloud and accessed by mobile platforms, is one of today's hottest new technology markets. Gartner predicts that mobile cloud computing will reach a market value of US$9.5 billion by 2014. Cloud combined with mobile solutions, for example, can be used to optimize field support and logistics.

Forward-looking companies no longer view “social” as a separate trend either. Embedded in cloud solutions, it brings data, processes, people and content together to drive business performance. The survey by Saugatuck Technology also reveals that 46 % of the respondents agreed to the statement that embedding social capabilities into important business workflows is critical to their company’s success.

Analysts say companies are starting to recognize the potential value that enterprise social media technology can deliver, particularly around collaboration within and across teams. HR departments, too, can profit significantly from the use of social media technology to communicate interactively with and empower employees. The following use cases are just a few examples:


  • Social Learning: 80 % of all learning in an organization happens via conversations and informal information sharing, so-called social and on-the-job learning. This is more than connecting social content to learning management platforms. This should encompass rich social profiles of employees so that they can find others, and themselves become findable based on their goals, empirical evidence of their work and the services they provide, thus fostering social, collaborative learning.

  • Social Goal Management and Collaborative Goal Execution: Very few employees start their day by thinking about managing their goals for the year. However, almost start their day thinking about the work that needs to be done. Tools based on social media technology can present the vital link between what is being done and what needs to be accomplished. Additionally, Collaborative Goal Execution or Work Management enriched with social capabilities can help employees find the right content and the right people to execute on their goals.

Driving Innovation with the Cloud

Because far too many companies are still focusing on cost savings or operations of their business processes via the cloud, they are missing out on the opportunity to achieve an even more fundamental impact on their business. To reap these benefits, companies’ approach to cloud must become more strategic – the discussion must shift from cost reduction to value proposition of innovation.

When developing their cloud strategy, CIOs need to focus more strongly on business agility and innovation. In today’s business environment dominated by rapid innovation cycles, the ability to quickly leverage new innovative business functions is a key competitive advantage.

Choosing a vendor that not only delivers innovative solutions but also provides a unified and open platform is essential for companies wanting to achieve maximum benefit from their cloud computing strategy. Such a platform enables enterprises to extend and create their own applications, and at the same time, provides them access to innovation by the vendors’ partners as well.

A cloud vendor should also offer co-innovation opportunities to its customers and partners. Co-innovation focuses on offering a value proposition that works for both the vendor and the customers. It offers the opportunity to collaborate with customers and partners on the design and development of innovative, next generation applications, continuously incorporating feedback as the applications are being built. The vendor essentially becomes an extension of the customer, delivering the right product in the right moment, covering the right needs.

Companies are planning on spending large portions of their IT budgets on cloud solutions. However, this huge market potential can only be realized if vendors deliver what companies are looking for: flexible routes to the cloud with a secure, loosely-coupled suite of solutions designed to work the way people do – collaborative, mobile and insightful.

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Let me know your thoughts, Sven Denecken (@SDenecken)