As cloud computing gets adopted by people in many different countries around the world, across all the continents, it is quite evident that different countries see cloud computing with different lenses. There are many issues that affect the adoption of cloud computing, from regulatory issues to cultural issues to economic issues. At the recently concluded Cloud Connect 2011 conference (see previous CloudAve coverage), we had a panel to discuss these issues. Some of the issues we considered during the session are: regulatory issues, cultural issues, best practices, etc.. During the discussion, I was talking about the cultural issues and how it impacts cloud adoption in different countries. I thought I will briefly discuss the topic here quoting some of the examples.
Even though many of us focus on the regulatory and compliance aspects of cloud computing whenever we discuss the global adoption, I feel that it is important to consider the cultural angle too. This will especially be useful for analysts and vendors to understand the dynamics of the marketplace. Some of the examples of cultural differences are:
- Let us first consider India. Indians, due to the past socialist policies, are trained to innovate under restrictions. From the needs of everyday life to small businesses to farmers to even large enterprises, they are used to working around the lack of resources by maximizing the impact of the available set of tools. The idea is called as Jugaad which is now being studied as a part of engineering and management courses. In the past, I have been critical of India’s reliance on the outsourcing model and the relative lack of innovation on their side. Part of the reason for this lack of innovation is related to the lack of availability of IT resources for many people in the country. Startups could not afford to build reliable IT infrastructure needed to innovate in the tech field. With the availability of cloud based services, they can now easily innovate and this is evidenced by increasing number of startups coming from India in the past 2 years. Their Jugaad mindset will allow them to innovate around any restrictions on their path coming from platform services (PaaS). Also, India skipped landline generation and went big on mobile. We then saw many innovative services in the mobile market. Similarly, I expect India to embrace cloud computing big after they skipped the traditional IT and innovate on top of it. Cloud computing is a good fit for Indians both from the economic POV and cultural POV.
- I have long highlighted about the impact cloud computing can have on the African continent. In my opinion, cloud computing offers an opportunity for many countries in the African continent to compete in the global marketplace. During one of my conversations with a NGO from Africa, I came to know the comfort level of people with mobile devices in many under developed countries there. In fact, I was even told that they prefer mobile phones to desktop computers even if there is access to such computing devices. Cloud computing is well suited to offer a platform for them to empower them to compete in a global marketplace.
- Another interesting cultural difference is between Americans and Europeans. George Reese of enStratus has talked about it already. Europeans want their governments to regulate the industry and protect the privacy of data. Americans, often due to their blind fear about governments, want the industry to self regulate and offer the necessary protection. This is a very important cultural difference the vendors should take into account while planning their market strategy.
- At the recently concluded Cloud Connect event, Forrester Security Analyst, Chenxi Wang, pointed out to an interesting cultural differences between Asians and Europeans. Dr. Wang highlighted how Asians emphasize business opportunity over privacy while Europeans will focus more on privacy even if it leads to lost business opportunities. This is not the case with Asian countries alone but also in South Asian countries like India. The idea of privacy and how to tackle the issue differs from country to country, a fact which service providers should take into account.
These are some of the examples that comes to my mind when I think about cultural issues impacting the cloud adoption. I know that CloudAve attracts visitors from around the world. I would love to hear about the different cultural issues from different parts of the world. Feel free to offer your thoughts either in the comments below or by directly contacting me.
- Cloud Connect 2011 – Takeaways (cloudave.com)
- Cloud Computing for Lawyers: Back to the Basics (nylawblog.typepad.com)
- Is Ireland’s new government taking Cloud Computing advice from Microsoft? (sociable.co)