Which do you find the most appealing?
a) Having access and sharing all your information across multiple devices and platforms OR
b) Having a secure computing/digital environment
If you’re like most of us, you want both.
But here’s the catch: when PCs were first introduced, they were local (sat on our desks) and their contents could be kept private (no information was shared). As we became more connected, we were taught safety first – “Get anti-virus!” “Make sure you have a firewall!!” We were living on the left side of this grid.
Then two things happened: cloud computing started to gain traction at the same time social networks came to define Web 2.0. (For those of you who don’t know the expression “cloud computing,” it’s where shared information, resources and software applications are stored and accessed in a “cloud” (the Web). If you use Google Docs, for example, its Office-like programs which store and share documents online are “in the cloud.” The same for its Calendar.)
Where does that leave protecting our files, identities, and the like?
It’s confusing, really. Public info in the cloud? How about Facebook, which has consistently said they don’t believe in privacy – so much so that there are now four senators calling for an investigation of the company and its policies? Have you changed your settings recently so you’re comfortable with the amount of info being shared?
Feeling virtuous because you don’t use Facebook? Doing any online banking? Using GoToMyPC.com to access office files from home? Or sharing pictures via Flickr? You’re in the cloud, whether in public or private.
Why is this comfortable for us? I suppose that for each of these things, we have weighed out the benefits (convenience, accessibility) with the risks.
But in the last few months, as I’ve explored delivering interactive market research reports to clients online, I’ve realized that where I draw the line in the cloud is in storing proprietary client reports in an area where they can have access to them. In other words, I’m not yet comfortable providing my clients with an electronic cloud-based archive of the work I’ve done.
To get there, I’ll need the following:
- A private browser-based gateway or portal for each client. (This could include a “secure tunnel” from the client’s Intranet to where their files are stored in the space I’m paying for.)
- The platform should be able to support multi-media elements (slides/pages, audio, video, podcasts of presentations, etc.) without software needing to be loaded on the client’s server/computer. (Rather like how the wonderful sales tool, SlideRocket.com, works today.)
- Viewing of files must be completely secure – like SSL, with a visible lock in the browser.
- Client files can only be uploaded and/or edited by me.
In short, if Carbonite and SlideRocket were to have a baby, I’d be very happy and there would no longer be a need for “drawing lines in the cloud.” I’d have both “a” and “b.”
Know of a solution for me? Think online reporting is moving in another direction? Let me know!
BTW, Perspectives on Consumers, this GSS blog, is now part of the blog directory at http://Market-Research.Alltop.com!!