The Connected Consumer Cloud - one place to rule them all

With the doors now open for competitive 4G offerings from the major players, the proliferation of consumer content cloud services is one that operators are looking to, to drive loyalty and value.

With the doors now open for competitive 4G offerings from the major players, the proliferation of consumer content cloud services is one that operators are looking to, to drive loyalty and value. With 89 per cent of consumers saying they would value the ability to share content anywhere, across devices, secure content services are the key to not only gaining new customers, but to retaining and growing existing bases.

The cloud is a term that has not only become part of an IT professionals day-to-day but, whether they know it or not, has become a driver of consumer trends. You only need to look at cloud services such as Facebook to see how consumers are using these services to store, share and access content such as photos and videos. However, ask the 'man-on-the-street' if they use the cloud and there will still be a large number of questioning expressions.

According to Michael Gartenburg, research director at Gartner, "Consumers are confused about the nature of the personal cloud. This will not be helped by many vendors continuing to equate Personal Cloud services simply with online storage and neglecting their additional features and potential."

Despite this lack of education, cloud content services are varied and vast - consumers may store pictures on Facebook, video on YouTube, music on iTunes... but the common theme is disparity. Numerous passwords, interfaces, permissions and security benchmarks. The ideal is a connected cloud, one place for all digital content, secure, easy to use and personalised.

As consumer awareness of cloud, and of its associated security issues grow, operators are tasked with two challenges.

Firstly, why offer a cloud service and secondly, how do they gain the trust of consumers?

Results of a recent survey, conducted by GfK on behalf of F-Secure, found that 60 per cent of respondents are considering using a cloud storage, synchronisation and back-up solution to protect their digital assets. It's nothing new to say that in the world of mobile 'content is king'. Nearly eight of ten (78 per cent) UK consumers stated that the content on a device is more valuable that the device itself.

When it comes to looking for a provider of a cloud storage solution, 67 per cent of respondents stated that they would trust their broadband provider to safely store and protect their personal content.

Therefore, the closer wed a provider is to content, the closer the customer relationship and stronger the ties of trust. Of course, maintaining this trust is key and this is where security expertise cannot be undervalued.

Consumers are looking towards operators to help them keep their digital memories safe and unlock their digital lives through easy access to their files.

Personal cloud services, such as the BT Cloud, are a compelling proposition to the UK and global operator market. They have the power to augment and add value to an operator's current consumer broadband offering as well as engender trust in the provider's ability to both power and secure content anywhere.

Gartner agrees, "The result [of cloud integration] will be that the core purchase driver for consumers will shift from the operating system to the nature and function of the personal cloud services available to a platform. Platforms will not be judged solely by number of apps, but also by the availability of core Personal Cloud services for business and personal needs, for both content creation and content consumption."

The future of these services is a secure, flexible, customisable platform in which consumers can aggregate content, social and applications using one hub, one security standard under the umbrella of their provider. Consumers' digital identities within their social networks, online banking and everyday communications will be protected from hackers and viruses and they will be able to enjoy a free uninterrupted experience from their service provider.

The key therefore to operators owning the consumer content cloud, is the repurposing and rebranding of such services as not only useful, but also safe - instant not disparate. By tying all loose ends in one solution, operators are ideally placed to offer the next-generation content cloud, given their proximity not only to devices but also to customer spend.

F-Secure is offering safe cloud services through more than 200 operator partners around the world and securely stores billions of photos, videos, documents, and other files for millions of end customers globally. Located in five data centres on three continents, F-Secure's ever-increasing cloud content currently makes up several petabytes of data.

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