PwC: Why are we seeing such strong interest by businesses in cloud services now? After all, a few years ago, many in IT used to dismiss the idea.
McGeever: The cloud is one of the hottest topics concerning financial executives and CIOs right now. It´s a dramatic change from three or four years ago, when they didn´t view it as part of their application stack. But that´s changed dramatically. CIOs are now the biggest proponent. They´ve gotten more and more comfortable based on their use of cloud in the periphery. But the biggest change was the recession, when budgets and headcount got cut, and they had to more with less. Now, to add an application means adding IT staff, which is a hard sell, as there are no spare IT people to absorb the work. So hiring is part of the TCO [total cost of ownership] calculation for applications, and that favors the cloud.
PwC: One constant in recent years has been enterprise investment in analytics technology. But it seems as if perhaps the purpose for that investment is shifting. If so, why?
McGeever: The cloud lets CIOs pull together the remote operations quickly and cheaply. Typically, in large organizations, ERP is installed in staged implementations — over a decade — but each is different and doesn’t talk easily to each other. So it makes sense that one of the fastest growing segments of cloud computing is BI: When you don´'t have systems integrated, you do have to pull the data together, and BI is useful for that.
PwC: What are the implications of the burst of mobile experimentation we´ve seen this past year?
McGeever: Mobile is an essential part of any business today and needs to be an essential part of any business strategy.
PwC: We´ve also seen a lot of media attention on social networking, which has certainly gotten consumer interest. What should enterprise providers make of it?
McGeever: No one´s quite clear on what do with social — initially it´s more of a replacement for email. Technically it´s very easy to develop so there are lots of people building solutions for enterprise social networking including NetSuite. What we´ve seen so far can be useful but right now it seems like a technology in search of an answer.