Friday, August 27, 2010

Meetings can add value!

I have often been told stories about Singapore: the cleanest place on earth with strict laws to maintain a high overall security level. The Singaporean government has been investing in this “Singapore brand” for many decades. A clean, safe city for both leisure and business purposes. The latest new innovations in this area are the integrated resorts in Sentosa and the Marina Bay.

This availability of leisure and business facilities appeals to many businesses and international organisations to hold their conferences in Singapore. This year is the third consecutive year that Singapore has won the award of ‘Top International Meeting City’ handed out by the Union of International Associations. Such meetings are very important for the circulation of knowledge and the improvement of networks. In my opinion there is a strong correlation between the level of international meetings held in a country and its business activity. Let’s do the test: For the last 3 years Singapore is the top city for international meetings and Bloomberg estimated Singapore’s growth in 2010 between 13% and 15%, rating the country as the world’s fastest growing economy. Coincidence?

 Next month there will be another important international meeting, namely the Human Capital Summit 2010 in which many industry experts will discuss human capital management in organisations in order to share best practices and improve organisations. I think that it is very important that the summit is held in Singapore out of all the Asian cities. Think for a second about what the future will be for Singapore. There will be a flatter distribution of global power in which emerging economies will gain economic power at the expense of the regions that are now being considered as the global economic powers. Singapore is a relatively small island with a low level of natural resources. This highlights the importance for Singapore to invest in expertise and knowledge in which human capital is very important.  Therefore it can be understood that keeping chewing gum out of the country has more advantages than just keeping the city clean, it also contributes to Singapore being the top international meeting city.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The cloud up ahead

Cloud computing has been looming over the business world for some time now (pardon the pun). The arguments for and against the adoption of cloud computing are well known: cost reduction and increased agility versus potentially decreased security. Can anything new be added to the argument? Actually, there have been several recent developments that, unfortunately, while relevant to the conversation about cloud computing, may not help advance the argument in one way or the other.

On the one hand, the increasing trend towards more mobile and powerful personal devices like the iPad (and ensuing tablets surely to come) and the Kindle point towards a consumer need to access data remotely, a feat most easily accomplished through the cloud. On the other hand, rising concerns about the privacy of information (think Facebook, Wikileaks and Blackberry in the UAE) seem to point in the direction for a desire to maintain proprietary control over data. Understanding that a company is but a collection of the individuals that work there and that, therefore, business decisions are usually reflections of those individual's tendencies, these two developments in the retail realm may help to understand businesses' future acceptance for cloud computing solutions.

The discussed trends, each pulling the argument is opposite directions may actually shed some light on the future of cloud computing. It seems that the most probable result is that rather than being a zero-sum game in which cloud computing solutions can only be adopted at the expense of more traditional in-house solutions, cloud computing will be adopted in those cases in which the need for flexibility and cost-reduction out-weight privacy concerns. Such a future may mean that potential businesses that once failed to get off the ground due to crippling IT costs may now flourish through the help of third-party servers and applications until their need for privacy and security is matched by their ability to afford secure in-house solutions.