I recently wrote about inside out analysis for goal setting and assessment for social media tool usage – Keeping Centered. The next day I received a TED link from a former colleague – How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek.  In this video presentation, he discussed the golden circle and how great leaders start with the “Why” in the middle and then discuss the “how” and the “what” in support of the “why.”  He essentially stated that Leaders inspire people when they focus on the purpose or cause/belief that drives their existence. He also discussed the adoption cycle and how to get from innovators and early adopters to the early majority to create a tipping point.

This got me thinking about what will it take to inspire people to action for “cloud” services.  We all know the “cloud” is marketing spin on network based services and capabilities. The eco-system for these services is based on collaboration, cooperation, new business models, new threats, new solutions, users are vendors, vendors are users, bi-directional and circular – all at the same time.  In addition, much of what vendors are touting to service providers is the classic outside-in approach (i.e., use our product and save x, y or z).  As all of this noise swirls around, does it really get to the “why?”

For me, the “why” of these new services and capabilities is opportunity for unprecedented change. These services move us from the Information Age to the Knowledge age.  We have the ability to tap into the knowledge of many people; increase our understanding and take action on the information available to us.  We can make the world a better place with these new services. Some examples:

  1. Healthcare. As I have noted before, Healthcare improvements are significant and measurable (Health meet Cloud). To me, it goes beyond that.  Using information and knowledge available to us through networked collaboration will not only improve patient well-being but also let us focus on how to make people better rather than just always fixing them. Remembering the why of Healthcare in the “cloud,” it should help us better define the desired outcomes revolving around security and privacy – probably the two largest hurdles for Electronic Health Records (EHR) or Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
  2. Smart Grid, Green Energy, Energy Conservation. This is huge.  Rising oil prices; the impact of fossil fuels on the environment; nuclear energy going nuclear; renewable energy not quite to the reliable stage yet; Natural gas is great but is fracking? Plenty of direct energy issues to deal with.  What is the right answer? I don’t know.  What I do know is that it will take all types of energy production, transportation, storage, and conservation to get the solution correct.  That is lots of information.  Some comes in little bits often; other is mountains of data that needs to be sorted. It comes down to having the best information available and widespread knowledge to harness the information and the energy correctly. Being able to capture, collate, collaborate, and cogitate on this information needs a network-based system to be successful.  “Cloud” services are in the best position to offer the greatest benefit to solving the energy production – conservation – bio-diversity equation.
  3. Education. In the knowledge age, getting the information will not be the issue, using the information and acting on that information will be the big deal. Teaching people to equip themselves for the Knowledge Age is critical. An example works well here:  my children are well versed at digging out information and data from the Internet.  So good that they come up with a mountain of bad or false information in addition to the info that they need.  As Siva Vaidhyanathan points out in his book “The Googlization of Everything,” relying on Google to sort out all of information is not wise and frankly helps them with their business model.  We must educate ourselves and the next generations to think and act for themselves in the Knowledge Age. Additionally, the advancements in Science continue to accelerate (thanks to the Knowledge Age and Cloud Computing).  Using the connectivity, collaboration, and corroborating opportunities of “cloud” based education will promote a well-grounded education foundation that everyone can build on. The key “why” here is better educated people so that more problems can be solved.

With these examples, I see networked services helping solve the problem but not the solution to the problem.  Solutions require more than just technology being thrown at the problem.  There must be cultural changes, attitude changes, commonality of purpose, reward of the greater good, etc. built into every solution.  This is why Simon’s discussion on inspiring people is so important.  People must be involved for the “cloud” to thrive.  For people to be involved, there must be a “why.” Hopefully, my examples provide a good “why” for the “cloud.”