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Public Affairs Insights from the Centre

28 Feb 2011

Enter, stage left, cloud computing

George Onisiforou

With all the hype surrounding social media it is easy to ignore other important technological developments that can have significant impact on a company’s operations and relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Enter, stage left, cloud computing.

There are many reasons why cloud computing (the provision of IT infrastructure, software, and platforms as a service) should be in every company’s IT and operational plans.

A very appealing reason is that switching to cloud computing makes economic sense. Its practice has the potential to reduce capital and maintenance costs and market entry barriers, and provide better control of expenditures. It is also environmentally friendly, and can inspire more creativity among employees.

Perhaps a more appealing reason is its premise for making remote working not only more possible but also easier. This is important because remote working reflects the reality of many individuals - and probably the future reality of the whole workforce.

It is important for corporate public affairs practitioners to understand how technologies like cloud computing can contribute to their company’s prosperity. It is equally important that they understand also the issues that need to be managed to achieve such benefits.

For cloud computing these issues concern privacy, data protection, and security — especially given the borderless nature of e-business and e-interactions. These issues are crucial to any online activity and are not made any easier by the uncertainty in the interpretation of the current legal frameworks.

As privacy laws are being reformed to reflect developments in the online space it becomes clear how such laws can have an immense impact, and why having a company position (or even a vision) about such reforms is important for business.

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