In 2013, it is realistic to say that most companies have at least a component of their businesses running on cloud resources, but even so, there is room for growth.
In fact, many organizations are barely scratching the surface in terms of cloud potential. As an example, consider the case of unified communications -- hosted voice, video, email, IM, and other communication tools -- as a driver of remote collaboration. In initial models offered on-site (by companies like Cisco, for example), UC was quite expensive to implement. Videoconference rooms were complicated to set up and use; only large enterprises incorporated them. Small and midsize companies saw very little justification for a major UC investment.
Now that UC is available as a cloud service, it's still struggling for market share, presumably because it has still not delivered any considerable increase in productivity.
One of the much-hyped benefits of UC is workforce mobility and tight collaboration. However, if this mobility is dependent on cloud access, it is easily curtailed by problems of connectivity.
For example, who hasn't traveled through areas of low or nonexistent Internet and cellular signal? Especially if you're overseas! When you reach an Internet oasis, the cost of decent, temporary access can also be prohibitive.
The fact is that most of the planet isn't on the Internet. According to a CNN article about Google's Project Loon, Google estimates that two thirds of the global population is without fast, affordable Internet access. In effect, then, mobility is still not fully developed, as of now.
In the light of this, it is encouraging to see that Google is moving ahead with Project Loon. Essentially, the company is creating a network of high-altitude WiFi balloons, orbiting in the stratosphere some 20 kilometers in the sky.
The network will provide fast, affordable Internet access to areas where it's not available currently. The project's goal is to help fill coverage gaps, bring people back online after disasters, and extend education and even remote healthcare to underserved areas.
I can't help but see this as an application that will become the ideal travel package across the world, too. Nothing could be easier than logging onto Google WiFi anyplace in the world. A lecturer may deliver a presentation while on a research trip abroad. A sales executive may conduct a sales meeting, seamlessly, with three clients back-to-back while traveling to close a deal elsewhere.
Ultimately, when Internet becomes truly ubiquitous and affordable, mobility will be a lot more real than it is now. This, in turn, will provide real potential to increase productivity via cloud collaboration.