There is no denying that cloud computing changed the way IT serves the enterprise. For some years now, software, databases, customer relationship management, and other key elements of information technology have been pushed into the cloud to be deployed “as-a-Service”. For example, the models of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) have become an everyday part of corporate vocabulary.
A research study by TheInfoPro found that the global cloud computing market would grow at a 36 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2016. Gartner estimates that global end-user spending on public cloud services will be more than $180 billion by 2015. And Forrester forecasts that the global market for cloud computing will grow to more than $241 billion in 2020. According to McKinsey & Company projections, the total economic impact of cloud technology could be $1.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion annually in 2025.
Public Cloud Services Market Growth, 2010 to 2015
As the idea of sharing and scaling services that were once local and isolated continues to gain popularity, we’re starting to see almost every function being delivered as-a-Service to businesses, even outside of enterprise technology. For example, one could say that companies like Airbnb are housing clouds that deliver Housing-as-a-Service, or Zipcar and Uber are car clouds offering customers Transportation-as-a-Service. Even 15 percent of U.S. healthcare systems leverage cloud computing for storage of images, with this number expected to increase to more than 50 percent over the next three years.
Industry experts are now looking at a future where any functional service can be “clouded”.
“Business leaders interested in the future of IT should stop thinking of ‘the cloud’ as a noun and start thinking about ‘clouding’ as a verb…Clouding is not new, and compute, storage and network are not the only things that can be clouded.” ~Richie Etwaru, Group Vice President of Cegedim Relationship Management
Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS), also known as Anything-as-a-Service, is a collective term that stands for a number of things that could be offered via cloud.
In the staffing industry, a term and concept that is gaining momentum is “Workforce-as-a-Service” (WaaS), where online platforms like eLance enable employment to be light on human assets and have minimal fixed costs. WaaS basically provides companies with the flexibility of an on-demand workforce, where they can engage the right talent when it’s needed. Onforce, a cloud-based platform for technical talent, says that companies can save 20 to 60 percent on labor costs by tapping into WaaS.
Workforce-as-a-Service offers companies several advantages, including:
Immediacy of labor
Faster speed of work
According to Richie Etwaru, Group Vice President of Cegedim Relationship Management, under the umbrella of “Everything-as-a-Service” (XaaS), companies can explore clouding the resource of human capacity. For example, expertise could be delivered as a service. This creates the opportunity to leverage what Etwaru describes as “humans-as-a-service” (HuaaS), the model to which WaaS is a predecessor. HuaaS could be a disruptor in how companies source and utilize their most valuable assets - human capacity.
“Today’s employment model takes into account only the primary talent of an individual and ignores the reality that humans are generally multidimensional and useful outside the scope of their stateful roles. This means valuable human capacity is wasted. If human capacity were aggregated as liquid, stateless supplies, it would allow companies to spin up capacity to meet the demand of projects.” ~ Richie Etwaru, Group Vice President of Cegedim Relationships Management
Changing the current employment model by aggregating human capacity into a pool of supply, as companies such as TaskRabbit and eLance do, would allow companies to ramp up and divest of human capacity to meet demand as needed. This is similar to the way compute and storage clouds are currently used.
Essentially the evolution Etwaru is discussing is on-demand talent in the cloud, with the ability for any company to source individual talent or groups of talent for anything at any time. On some levels, this evolution is already taking place with the sourcing of temporary workers globally via freelance and crowdsourcing sites. The next step in the evolution would be to scale this flexible model effectively and efficiently for enterprises and also smaller companies.
While the model is appealing in theory, there are some caveats to consider. When using WaaS or HuaaS for complex projects or long-term engagements, there are some issues that companies need to consider. These concerns include worker screening, worker classification, and worker management.
“If you look at the HR market, this is a very big market that’s grown very quickly. This is at least an $8 billion market. HR [software as a service] is one of the biggest spaces in SaaS today…Our view is that it’s a very big market that’s going through a very big refresh cycle and there is a lot more opportunity for growth.” ~Mike Zappart, Principal at Adams Street Partners