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PwC Up front | Issue 5 | Harnessing technology

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Up front Summer 2014 9 The business case for the cloud There are three main components to cloud computing: 1. Software as a service gives you the ability to access technology where you need it on a "pay-as-you-go" subscription basis. 2. Infrastructure as a service eliminates the need to buy and house expensive IT hardware and infrastructure such as servers, storage and databases. Instead, the cloud allows you to "rent" it. 3. Platforms as a service takes the conventional model for building and deploying business applications to a new level by eliminating the need for an operating system, coders and infrastructure. Instead, you can leverage the capabilities of providers to build a specific application that will reside in the cloud ready to be used when you need it. Building a sustainable future—Technology strategies: Ninth Annual Business Insights Survey of Canadian private companies (PwC, 2014) Download the full report | www.pwc.com/ca/private inSightS online and have more money to spend, because they have more of a social conscience and they're worried about climate change, they're worried about sustainability," he says. In an increasingly urbanized world, Reid thinks the sharing model will become even more entrenched as people coexist in smaller spaces – and demand personalized products, thanks to new technologies such as 3-D printing. "You're going to see some big guys bubble to the top," he says when asked what the collaborative economy will look like in five years. "You're going to see some consolidation." One of the biggest current successes is San Francisco-based Airbnb, which is valued at $10-billion (U.S.) after it closed a $500-million (U.S.) funding round with private equity firm TPG Capital. But a larger trend will be established businesses jumping onboard, Reid believes. As he points out, moving-equipment rental giant U-Haul has taken the plunge with a foray into peer-to-peer lending. "I can be using a trusted brand I care about, get a better rate of return than I can at the bank and I can completely sidestep the entire banking institution and do it straight with U-Haul," he says. Reid also sees big opportunities in the business- to-business world. He cites LiquidSpace, which large companies could use to manage office space internally or rent out unused inventory. For corporate travel, they might switch from hotels to Airbnb. "The minute the enterprise starts embracing those models and says, 'Let's at a corporate level start leveraging technology and some of these services to be more efficient,' you're going to see a sea change," Reid says. That scenario may seem ridiculous today, he admits. But the collaborative economy works partly because it's self-governing: participants rate and review each other. "It's scary to think about using reviews as currency for the enterprise, but I think we're going to start to see the enterprise taking hold of this economy," Reid predicts. "Some people are going to go fast, and some people are going to be a little late to the game." With the rules quickly changing, enterprises rely on Vision Critical to connect with consumers through branded insight communities. "Our model allows companies to build these communities of five, 10, 15 thousand of their customers that have coverage across all of their core segments and that allow them to talk to people on an ongoing basis and do that very quickly," Reid says. "Our platform remembers every question we ever ask, so we don't ever ask the same questions twice." Based on feedback from its community, Discovery Communications launched a new network, using the information it had gathered to settle on a name, a theme and content, he notes. "The only thing they did was talk to their community members, because they knew those are their core customers." As the collaborative economy keeps growing, Reid expects to see innovative brands adding big areas of their business to the mix. Germany's BMW now offers car rentals at its dealerships, and U.S. retail chain Walgreen Co. recently teamed up with online marketplace TaskRabbit to offer pharmaceutical home delivery. "You're going to see them partnering with some of these disruptive technologies and companies," Reid says. "Everything's up for grabs." Uf The leaders Vision Critical's headquarters in downtown Vancouver.

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