Elance Blog

Complete Cloud Control in 2020?

In 2020, you, those you work with, and nearly everyone else that is digitally connected will access data, software applications, and all information through “cloud”-based services like Google Docs, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Box.net, and more, according to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project Study.

Considering how much data the general public digests through the cloud in today’s world, the majority of experts agree that this trend will only move forward by the end of the upcoming decade.

Out of an expert sample group of 371, 72 percent agreed that by 2020, most people will be completing their work through web-based applications via computers and mobile phones as opposed to utilizing a general purpose PC. In contrast, 25 percent disagreed by saying most people will still be doing their work the old fashioned way – with software running on a general-purpose PC. As for cloud applications? Those will be useful, but “the most innovative and important applications will run on (and spring from) a PC operating system.”

Davis Fields, product manager at Nokia, shares his thoughts in the report.

"It's 2010 and I could already basically use only cloud-based applications on my computer. Local storage is already increasingly irrelevant – I have my all my photos stored on Flickr, my address book is in my Gmail and I've got all my emails stored there as well. Apple will likely move iTunes online in the next few years, and streaming movies from Netflix will eliminate the need to download movie files. I use Microsoft Office and Photoshop out of familiarity as my main two desktop apps, but good alternatives already exist online. I predict most people will do their work on ‘screens connected to the web,’ There won't be any sort of ‘computer’ anymore."

So elancers, I must ask – as the leading pioneers of the future of work online, do you think that we’ll be completing most of our work by the year 2020 through the “cloud”, or do you think you’ll still be using your desktop applications to get the job done? Be sure to check out the full study over at Pew Internet & American Life for all of the details.

Leave us your thoughts in our latest poll on our Facebook Fan Page! Five lucky respondents will receive a copy of Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Workweek Expanded And Updated Edition and a few Elance goodies as well. Join our Fan Page, answer the poll question, and leave a comment, and you can win. We’ll be selecting the winners next Friday, June 18. Good luck!

Pew Internet & American Life - The Future Of Cloud Computing
Elance Blog - The Best Cloud Apps You Need To Know About>


To the freelancing end-user, it probably won't matter whether applications themselves are provided from clouds (private, public, or hybrid), unless billed differently (e.g., pay for use instead of owning the software) to increase costs over time as opposed to owning software with a one-time purchase. There will always be the need for personal and business records not meant for public eyes, so I'm not sure if traditional home/home office hard drives will ever be rendered obsolete. For energy efficiency reasons alone (ability to reduce number of physical servers in a data center), cloud makes a lot of sense.

I'm all for that freelance work and superclouds and online-based applications, but we really have to change things to get there and be happy with that. Freelance work needs more maturity and stability and freelancers should have similar rights to normal employees, people should be able to communicate better online, so that it wouldn't mater so much if I'm in Canada and you're in Japan, we should be able to meet every morning for a cup of virtual coffee or something, and be able to see our ugly sleepy mugs while going through the morning news, and have a real chat, not just a dry exchange of emails or IM messages, online-apps should be cheap and flexible to rent and/or buy (software companies would be making a whole lot more money this way anyway), and there should be a considerably increased security of pay, meaning there should be some international laws protecting freelancers from being not-payed, by forcing employers to pay in several payments and/or creating deposits just the way they have to do it on Elance. Btw, in this sense, working freelance through Elance seems like an extraordinary opportunity, of which I haven't taken any advantage yet, because the job offers Elance has a.t.m., meaning in 2010, in my field alt least, are few, less-than-serious, and very underpayed. Communities such as Elance, hopefully, will evolve through the decade and become more widespread and widely used.