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Is the Future Cloudy or Foggy?

We definitely live in interesting times, where interest in technology is no longer a hobby for the geeks and nerds, but truly for the masses. Case in point? Recently, when one CNN anchor complained about the Affordable Care Act websites running into technical difficulties due to high demand, another anchor volleyed back by saying how she just upgraded her iPhone to iOS7 and is ready to toss it into the ocean! Yes, we the consumers, the business users, the everyday folks, are all affected by – and care passionately about – evolving technology that is ultimately supposed to make our lives easier, more manageable, and less cluttered.

This is certainly the promise cloud computing offers. And what type of disruption has cloud computing caused already? Gartner Research states that by this year, Google already has more than 50 percent of the end-users for all cloud-related productivity tools. Today, out of the estimated 630 million office suite business users, 50 million of them are using a cloud-based product. Even a large and traditionally conservative enterprise like Roche has moved its 90,000 employees to Google apps.

And yet with all this disruption, only 1.4 percent of Google’s fourth-quarter 2012 revenue came from Google Apps. In comparison, the single most profitable division at Microsoft is the Business Division, where 80 percent of its revenue comes from Microsoft Office. Lowering the cost of productivity software in this fashion is forcing other big cloud players like Microsoft to slash prices just to stave off the market erosion. User seat prices for Office 365 are listed for $25/user/month, but in reality, prices can be negotiated down to as low as single digits, per user, per month.

This tremendous market disruption and tension is leading many to ask plenty of questions about the future of modern computing. What is the future for enterprise solution providers offering value-added products and services on top of these ecosystems, amidst this movement to slash costs by moving to the cloud? Is the future of enterprise productivity all in the cloud, or somewhere in between today’s on-device, on-premises, and hybrid reality? And back to the promise of disruptive technology, beneath the veneer of the latest attention-grabbing ads about the latest technological gadget that will change your life forever, is our life today more manageable and less cluttered? Or has today’s proliferation of technology alternatives actually introduced more data management headaches for the consumers and enterprises alike?

When I pose these questions with CEOs, CIOs, Knowledge Management officers, Digitization officers, and IT and business managers in my travels lately, the overall theme is that there are rays of light breaking through the cloud. Everyone wants to do more with less, and do so much, much faster – especially with regard to information gathering and processing. Cloud computing definitely has a seat at the table. At the end of the day, though, the technology has to actually solve knowledge workers’ specific problems. If not, the deployment fails, adoption is pitiful, and the shiny new technology solution – whether in the cloud or on-premises – is only built upon a fragile foundation of hype that’s quickly crushed by the fervent need for quick, tangible return on investment.

This is truly an evolution in enterprise software, and to help organizations address this need AvePoint has also evolved to enable companies to stitch together once-disjointed technology platforms and data silos in order to achieve true ROI and keep innovation humming at the rapid pace necessary to thrive today and into the future. Many of our partners and customers look at AvePoint’s explosive expansion of products across our infrastructure management, governance, compliance, and mobility and productivity apps solution stacks and often ask me about AvePoint’s long-term vision and direction. Our vision is one that has been forged by feedback from our customers – whether in conversation or in-the-trenches engineering engagements – who suffer from the hair-on-fire problems of too many data silos, too many legacy data platforms, and too many new technology alternatives to bring about real change and true return on investment.

Our background and strength as an infrastructure solutions provider in the enterprise collaboration space allows us to understand at the bits and byte level the technological challenges our customers face. We’re in a great place to truly understand from the ground up what our customers need in today’s ever-changing computing world. How?

· Our continued focus and expansion of our infrastructure solutions to cover more data platforms and environments – whether all-in the cloud, on-premises, or hybrid – will continue to strengthen our integrated product platform. Our focus on a truly integrated platform since 2001 enables us to release solutions that anticipate our customers’ future needs at a much faster pace than we ever have before.

· Our governance offering is born out of enterprises’ need to turn traditional IT into IT as a service, our customers’ mandates in turning capital expenditure to operational expenditure, and providing transparency and charge back capabilities from IT to the business units they serve.

· Our compliance solutions evolved from simple e-discovery and archiving to a fully-fledged monitoring, tracking, testing, and real-time context, cost, and priority aware governance, risk and compliance enforcement platform. Why? Our customers are swimming in data, and need better ways to track and check the flow of information before they drown. The concept of generating heat maps across data silos so a risk officer can have more confidence in the technology being deployed is at the core of how we can bridge the gap between technology enthusiasm and responsible, corporate information governance.

· Our slew of productivity solutions for Office 365, Dynamics CRM, and mobile content sharing and access control solutions come from business end users who want more control accessing and managing information to simply make their job easier, while simultaneously giving the enterprise peace of mind that information flowing at the end points of collaboration is safe and secure.

Thus, our organic expansion of product offerings – all of which having a razor-sharp focus on integration – comes from helping more than 10,000 customers in every industry segment and every geography collaborate with confidence. Our vision comes from listening to not only what the customer needs now, but what they will need tomorrow. It’s like famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s quotation on skating to where the puck is going to be – AvePoint will continue to refine its vision along with frequent upgrades to our products and offerings to ensure that we continue offering the best, most relevant solutions in our ever-changing technology landscape.

The near future is not 100% “Cloudy”. However, with the disruption of cloud, social, big data, and mobile access technology trends, the future is exciting and holds tremendous opportunity for enterprise solution providers that truly add value and help business users, consumers, and everyday folks make information more manageable. We may never be able to control the continued onslaught of new technologies that pervade every area of our lives, but what we can do is help control the chaos and help organizations embrace change. We can help people manage and process information more efficiently while maintaining peace of mind that data is secure, safe from those who shouldn’t access it, and properly governed.

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