Summer holidays are here, and if you are a parent—like I am—you’re probably racking your brain to find new and innovative ways to keep your children busy. I’ve decided to take the easy way out and buy a cloud-connected video game console for my eight-year-old.

Which one? That’s the million-dollar question.

Deep down, I aspire to be a model screen-free parent who helps his child discover and explore our amazing physical world. But the reality is different: All of us, including children, spend the lion’s share of our waking hours in the digital world today—up in the cloud. For the recent Cloud Continuum research I led, 100% of the 4,000 C-suite executives we surveyed told us their companies were on the cloud, in some way, shape or form. Not being on the cloud today means obsolescence.

The good news is that there are near-limitless cloud choices for family gamers as well as businesses today. The cloud is no longer just the public cloud: it is a continuum of capabilities and services from the public through to edge computing and everything in between, seamlessly connected by cloud-first networks. Accenture calls this set of choices in its entirety the ‘Cloud Continuum.’

The bad news is that abundance can sometimes lead to ‘analysis paralysis’: too many choices and concern for how to integrate them into your current and future lifestyle. I can offer some insights learnt from leading companies in our research (Continuum Competitors) and how they make difficult choices.

Know what you want

Our research shows companies that outpace others don’t think of cloud as a single, static destination to migrate to but as a future operating model. Similarly, merely getting to the gaming cloud isn’t my core problem—any console can do that. I want something to engage the entire family for many summers, help my child make new friends, improve hand-eye coordination, and perhaps even pique his interest in a career in technology later in life.

Other criteria that are important for me include:

Privacy & security: As a parent, safety and privacy are paramount concerns. Games are full-fledged cloud platforms now, and while the cloud is more secure than ever and children are online safety-trained, my job is to ensure my child’s data stays private at all costs. That means parental controls which block adult content, flag dangerous conversations, log locations, and anonymize identities.

Companies, too, care deeply about privacy, not just for their confidential assets and employees but also for their customers, choosing a mix of private, public, and edge clouds that help them maintain this balance. Globally, security and compliance risk emerge as the top pain-points of cloud adoption, sharing the position with misalignment between IT and business.

Gaming parties & scalability: Starbucks, globally synonymous with coffee, believes in and demonstrates scalability. Even back in 2018, its mobile ordering app catered to 23.4 million people.

Minecraft, in which young gamers join friends to build things (in contrast, most games in my youth were about breaking things), has three million active users when I last checked. Let that sink in. It makes inherent sense to invest in games/platforms that could, if need be, scale up to support an entire room of children co-creating, like in a gaming party. Scaling isn’t just about more of the same – it’s also about continuous updates, new features, and new games. A gaming platform, like a business-oriented cloud platform, cannot be a one-trick pony.

Old memories & legacy support: My partner would like the gaming platform to play some of our old DVDs and Blue-Ray discs containing precious memories of times when skinny jeans weren’t a thing. Like life insurance companies where policies last a lifetime, providers must ensure that legacy systems remain compatible with modern ones.

I outlined three factors that are important for my unique circumstances. Your mileage may vary, but the great thing about the continuum is that you can activate unique combinations to suit your preferences.

But selecting technology is just half the battle. Don’t stop there. Let’s also implement the winning habits of Continuum Competitors.

Establish practices to augment the impact of technology

Buying the console and sitting back to enjoy the ride is not going to win me a parent-of-the-year award. I’m committing to build a farm on Minecraft with my child, teaching responsible online behaviour, perhaps raising sheep together! Encourage yourself and your organization to experiment with technology—like Starbucks does with their employees in hackathon-style training programs.

Care about experience

When it comes to gaming, a good console cannot be slow or hang, or it’ll never be used. Unresponsive games can severely hamper the highly sensory experience that is key to enjoying a modern game and invoking a temporary “suspension of disbelief.” I must therefore choose a capable edge computing device—doing most of the heavy lifting and data processing close to the gamer when the cloud’s too far for real-time action.

Again, look at Starbucks, which uses edge computing to make coffee truly personal. Serving 80 markets with more than 30,000 stores, it updates new flavours of coffee instantaneously to its edge-enabled espresso machines worldwide. This level of customization is not possible without edge computing.

Lead with the Cloud Continuum

Gaming is one example; you can activate the power of the continuum to suit your unique preferences around privacy, performance, and experience in everything you consume digitally. And remember, technology only goes half the way. As a platform owner, you need to evangelize and educate. I had to teach my son how to work a console controller as he was used to PC games—and he now proudly teaches younger children.

If it’s time to choose your next cloud, whether for personal or business use, read our full report to learn more secrets of companies that are truly winning on the cloud.

Surya Mukherjee

Research Lead – Europe Technology, Accenture

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