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Cloudburst: Cloud computing innovation

March 22, 2011

Cloudburst: Cloud computing innovation.

When you think of going to the cloud, do just that. Think big, think the future and scale your investments to shape your agility for the future.  The article below showcases how boundary free socialized communication & collaboration enables the top companies to have a continual stream of information from thought leaders around the world, this empowerment enables innovation, identification and resolution to issues in real-time.

Applied to education and government the cloud could take research, learning and knowledge transfer to a whole new level. Imagine students working on a global project together.

Stay tuned and investigate how a Cloud strategy could benefit your organization.

Cloudburst: Cloud computing innovation

If Cloud computing is all about liberation and innovation, is there too much focus on cost-cutting and resource efficiency, wonders Sue Tabbitt

By Sue Tabbitt

When it comes to cloud computing, the IT industry may need to think more broadly. The shift of all of the bits and bytes of IT into the cloud can be hugely transformational – a momentous shift in the way the world works. Yet early customers seem focused on cost efficiency and server streamlining, to the point that they may not have a broad enough vision for what else is possible.

The exceptions have a lot to teach others, as the example of Sense Worldwide in London demonstrates.

The creative powerhouse

Sense Worldwide is a creative strategic consultancy, whose core business proposition relies entirely on cloud computing.

The company, which works with some of the biggest global brands – including Nike, Philips, Johnson & Johnson and Vodafone – uses an eminently flexible virtual network to dynamically connect teams of experts and consumers from across the globe which its clients can draw on as a source of product feedback and new ideas.

Sense’s clients are typically so ahead of their game that their only real challengers in their given markets are themselves. Maintaining and sharpening their market lead depends on keeping ideas fresh.

Boundary-free brainstorming

Since the company started, Sense has recruited a ‘co-creation community’ of over 2,000 subject experts and sounding boards, ranging from a Pagan witch and nuclear scientist to a BAFTA-winning documentary maker. These are in addition to freelance professionals who are at the top of their game in branding, marketing and design. They share their ideas for the kudos of showing what they can do in front of their peers, as much as for the remuneration they receive.

Freed from location, and fully empowered by the ability to share the richest possible blend of media online, individual creative groups can be dynamically connected and tapped into at any time – as with the underlying servers that connect them. All of this happens virtually, harnessing the multimedia-rich collaboration forums Sense has developed.

The Pagan witch and nuclear scientist came on board during a project about air fresheners, as Sense’s director of strategy, Brian Millar, explains. “The witch performs air purification rituals as part of her belief system, so we recruited her to provide insight about what is put into the air to create particular moods. The scientist, who is responsible for air purity in nuclear power plants, came from a completely different perspective. Being able to put the two together created a very interesting dialogue about caring for the air.”

Dynamic focus groups

In addition to these experts, Sense also recruits groups of targeted consumers who are rewarded for letting clients closely monitor the way they live their lives and use their products. Participants are sent a cheap digital video camera and asked to blog about their thoughts and experiences, giving the respective brand owners an unprecedented insight into their lives, interests and behavior.

“The ROI for the client is so much greater because, instead of getting one burst of ideas from a single session, they’re getting a continual stream of input.”

— Brian Millar, Director of Strategy, Sense Worldwide

For Nike, Sense tracks a group of ‘Football-Obsessed Teens’, for example, gaining an in-depth insight into what football means to them and how they express this in their daily lives.

Cloud at the core

Cloud computing is at the core of Sense’s innovative social networks, because there are no limitations to the capacity of the supporting systems. The company, which recently attracted the attention of Harvard Business Review, uses a cloud service and an open-source based, cloud-driven software tool .

Says director of strategy, Brian Millar, “We can scale the network up or down as needed, which is important when you’re dealing with rich-media content – video diaries, blogs, creative images and so on – which consumes a lot of capacity.”

Translation tools enable participants to share input in their own language, while being understood internationally.

The results of Sense’s dynamic collaborations can be impressive.  When a ‘co-creation’ community identified a flaw with the packaging of Splenda, a sweetener produced by Johnson & Johnson – ie that it looked too ‘medical’ – the resulting makeover (pictured) resulted in a doubling of UK sales, Millar reports.

“The ROI for the client is so much greater because, instead of getting one burst of ideas from a single session, they’re getting a continual stream of input,” he concludes. “That’s crucial in today’s fast-paced world where companies must reinvent themselves almost continuously to stay ahead.”

Sue Tabbitt is a freelance IT & business journalist located in the UK

The contents or opinions in this feature are independent and do not necessarily represent the views of Cisco. They are offered in an effort to encourage continuing conversations on a broad range of innovative, technology subjects. We welcome your comments and engagement.

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