Working in technology PR over the past 20 years means that I have been lucky enough to witness the birth of some of the most game-changing technology around. I was there for the launch of the iPod, where I spent an hour explaining to an FT journalist what an MP3 was (think of it as simply a new format – from tape to CD to MP3). I was also there for the launch of iTunes and spent time with tech media explaining how the online store would change the way we bought music and content (it found a way to monetise illegal downloads that was both acceptable to the user and the industry). I was also there at the start of the internet and spent many a fun hour compiling the ‘top ten searches’ for a search engine client. Hint: the most searched for terms were always sex related but we never publicised those. 15 years on I doubt that’s changed.
While it’s easy enough to see how these consumer technologies work their way into the general public’s consciousness, what about a B2B technology? In the past it has been consumer technology that has been driven into the workplace – think smart devices, apps, and tablets. This created what’s become known as the consumerisation of IT – where users have the same easy and simple to use experience at work as they do at home. But now it seems like the reverse is happening – we’re demanding the same capabilities in our personal lives that we have at work. Or is it just that the two experiences are so inextricably linked that we simply want one experience whether at home or work?
For me the consumerisation of IT was always most clearly demonstrated by my own parents and their adoption of smart devices, email, social media, apps, tablets and so on. If they could get their heads around it and understand the benefits then the technology had truly made it. But this week, the phenomenon was demonstrated even more clearly – by Hollywood and its launch of ‘Sex tape’ starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal. The premise for the film (you can see the trailer here) is a couple inadvertently uploading their sex tape to the cloud. That’s right – the cloud.
At Skout we’ve worked with cloud service providers for a while now and spent much of that time communicating the technicalities and benefits of the technology so that journalists (and end users) understand it as well as we do. And now it appears our job is done. Cloud has gone mainstream and we no longer need to focus on the benefits – flexibility and cost savings – because everyone understands it. Actually what appears to be clear from the film is that no-one understands it. In the film, Segal and Diaz actually have the following conversation:
Jay: It went up! It went up to the cloud
Annie: And you can’t get it down from the cloud?
Jay: Nobody understands the cloud. It’s a fxxking mystery.
But what actually demonstrates the lack of understanding is that the movie production company had to come up with a convoluted way of sharing the sex tape. Putting something in the cloud is NOT a way of sharing (unless you set your defaults to do that). Putting something in the cloud (in this instance) is simply a way of storing it on the internet rather than on the hard drive. In the film Diaz and Segal have apparently given iPads as gifts to friends, family and even the postman (as you do) and these cloud accounts were synced to their own. It would have made more sense if the couple had simply shared the video ‘by accident’ over email or social media. But then that’s been done before.
So while the cloud may have moved into the consciousness, I think that we (the B2B tech PR industry that is) might still have a job to do demystifying it. That is until my parents start using it.
Claire Lamb is a consultant at Skout. She’s worked in technology PR for 20 years and has survived more bubbles than Michael Jackson.