The cloud and the crowd. Are they simply buzzwords? Sure, they seem like ones when they are causally thrown into a conversation, but a deeper thought brings about the realization that these two — a technological advancement and a new mindset — are proving to set the infrastructure for business and social development in this decade.
The cloud removes physical limitations that hold us back and the crowd provides exponential innovation. When the cloud meets crowd, social productivity is enhanced and infinite opportunities are inevitable.
A slew of statistics tell us that the cloud would be worth $107 billion by 2017; by that time, the world’s population would reach approximately 7.4 billion people and the internet population would reach 3.6 billion, nearly half will be connected to the internet, setting high expectations for what we call the crowd economy — a new paradigm defined by connected individuals cooperating over the internet. Let’s take a look at the biggest impacts of the synergies between the cloud and crowds.
A work tools revolution
From the traditional handwritten notes, the cloud and the crowd have given birth to a new generation of tools that enhance the user’s productivity. Evernote had its humble beginning as a mobile note taker, now it supports note syncing that permits users to save their work in the cloud and collaborate remotely with colleagues — bringing efficiency and productivity.
Categorized as SaaS (software-as-a-service) in the cloud stack, Google’s Apps for Work, a service primarily targeting corporate and business users, provides storage, spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, aside from email hosting service. Teleworkers (the crowd) are maximizing these tools too and enjoy enhanced productivity and reduction of operational costs from expensive licenses of on-premise software.
The cloud and the crowd will disrupt us all at some point
If you’re not in it, the cloud and the crowd will disrupt you unexpectedly, one way or another, or at some point. That’s why Google, with its constant morphing of its flagship services, is active on other fronts, too. PriceWaterhouseCooper and Google have forged an alliance that marries PwC’s corporate reach with Google’s cloud expertise.
In one of their first ventures they’re leading a consortium that’s bidding on an $11 billion project, tackling one of the US government’s thorniest problems: coordinating the sharing of military health records for 9.6 million active duty and retired personnel worldwide.
The sharing economy is not a lie
The area that I am most excited about is platforms and the cloud economy. We have seen the sharing economy, gig and the on-demand economy all blossom out of this infrastructure. The naysayers in the cloud and the crowd have some valid arguments. Richard Eskow notably declared that the "sharing economy is a lie.” As much as I disagree with the title of this article, I agree with most of the points he makes.
We have to remember this new practice and ideology is still in its infancy. My friend and associate, Sangeet Paul Choudary, nails the issues when it comes to sharing risk and rewards and we are soon going to see version 2 of the new economy that offers true well-being in addition to technological benefits.
Angel investor and friend, Lisa Gansky, says that she has benefitted from the first wave of sharing economy platforms but thinks a reconfiguration is overdue and "the time has come to make sure that the value created by these companies is shared with the people who make them viable."
Amazing innovations in payment
Financial means and methods have seen the most disruption in this new economy. Mobile payments and the rise of crypto-currencies are critical in the future of work. Samsung’s NFC’s payment via smartphones, Apple Pay’s entry to the market through its flagship of devices that change the way we pay merchants, and PayPal’s constant development of its platform give us a preview on how the future of work will look like as payments become more efficient in online transactions.
And the avatars are changing too. Mobbr, a crowd payment solution helps companies disperse prize money or salary to many collaborators while Transpay allows businesses to transfer cross-border payment to global freelancers via direct bank transfer with much lower fees — all possible as the cloud and the crowd collide.
So, what’s next?
I believe we are moving to a new phase, where keywords like sharing economy or gig economy won’t matter, as platforms reach an age of maturity and the crowd becomes more empowered and knowledgeable. Platforms that offer periphery services for true wellbeing will distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. From a political and civic point of view, governments should also prepare for the rise of this new economy. Singapore’s quest to become a smart nation and Dubai’s initiative to adopt open innovation for its city infrastructure are precursors of what is to come, opening doors for the cloud and the crowd to improve the lives of citizens. The crowd and cloud are not simply buzzwords but pathways to infinite opportunities.
Crowd Payment Innovations
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