In a recent CloudU report we talked about the fact that a lack of formal Cloud Computing qualifications is something of a barrier to organizations adopting the Cloud. It’s something we’re trying, in some small way, to address with the CloudU certificate, but nonetheless the fact remains that when it comes to Cloud Computing, many times it comes down to just diving in and having a go.

But when suggesting this “give it a go” approach to people, I’m often met by exclamations of concerns and comments that ‘there’s no way small businesses will ever just dive in and have a go with unproven technology”. Well a case study I read recently seems to challenge the veracity around that claim.

Jason O’Neill runs a small construction company, ONC. He seems to be your typical builder whose attitude to technology is summed up best by his comments;

I’m not a technical person, I’m a builder. My knowledge of sending an attachment by email was that’s hard.

One couldn’t hope for a better example of someone unlikely to adopt cutting edge technology. Or so I’d have thought. Only in O’Neill’s case it didn’t work that way. Exposed to Google Apps at a networking event, O’Neill decided to experiment using Google Docs, Calendar and Forms.

He began quite simply introducing a single address book for all his staff that has contacts color coded depending on the type of contractor or customer they are. O’Neill didn’t stop there though; he set up a shared Google spreadsheet to track construction jobs and even started using a simple Google form to collect specific information about different contractors.

Now obviously O’Neill isn’t doing anything amazingly technical. His isn’t a case study that shows Cloud Computing as ground-breaking in technical terms. But what it does show, and perhaps more importantly than technological paradigm shift, is a transformation in the way organizations work, and a fundamental change in how they interact with technology.

I’ve long said that Cloud Computing is a trend that, while exciting from a technological perspective, is even more exciting for the fact that it has the ability to finally deliver on the promise of democratized IT. Cloud Computing finally delivers that vision where almost every person anywhere can access products or services that are of the same level previously only available to the largest organizations.

It means that Jason O’Neill, a small time building contractor, can have a presence, and can enjoy the sort of digital tools that his largest competitors can. And that’s truly exciting.

This series of posts are companion pieces to the CloudU series of educational material. We’d love you to join in some of our webinars or read the whitepapers the CloudU homepage is – here – and you can register to have updates sent to your inbox (in a non-spammy way of course!) there.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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