Remember when you were a kid, lying on your back in the grass, staring up at the sky and seeing the clouds move? It always made me dizzy! In reality, of course, we all learned that the earth was moving and it was only our perception that the clouds were moving faster. Most likely, a parent, an older sibling or maybe a know-it-all friend explained.

All that has changed…at least in the world of technology. The cloud literally is spinning faster than earth-bound, on-premise software. As my colleague Laurent Simoneau wrote in his blog post, Coveo has joined the ranks of suppliers of cloud-based, mobile-enabled technologies with the announcement of the first, end-to-end, intelligent search as a service for the enterprise.

How knowledge workers learn

To learn exactly how fast the cloud is spinning, I conducted a search, just like most people looking to learn something new for their jobs. (Bersin by Deloitte shared a report where 70 percent of workers reported learning via search vs 50 percent who reported learning via traditional training programs.)

I find that indeed, deployment of cloud-based technologies is spinning much faster than earth-bound deployments. Software Advice, which tracks deployment stats each year, reported that there was a “radical shift in deployment preference” between 2008 and 2014: 88 percent of buyers preferred on-premise solutions in 2008, while 87 percent preferred cloud solutions in 2014. You can see the report here. Ah, the internet. Now – thanks to the Coveo Cloud launch – everyone can have the same “upskilling” experience from the valuable data across their employers and their suppliers.

The change to preferring cloud shifted rapidly, and left in its wake a graveyard of on-premise systems littering the server rooms of companies and keeping employees from gaining the knowledge they need, at the moment they need it. Still, the value of cloud is more closely correlated with organizational performance than in the past. KPMG reported in its 2014 Cloud Survey Report that the reasons to go cloud, while still leading with cost efficiency at 49%, are more closely correlated with organizational performance than ever before: 42% better enabling a flexible and mobile workforce; 37% improving alignment and interaction with customers, suppliers and business partners, and 35% better leveraging data to provide insightful business decisions.

KPMG Cloud Survey Report

The report further stated that “Cloud enables greater levels of data access and makes it easier to share data between IT systems and collaborate across the business.”

Coveo Cloud’s intelligent search as a service provides the linkage between cloud systems, on-premise systems, and employee or customer need (read context).

It is the technology that helps employees and customers upskill with every use…and quite often, that use is implicit, conducted in the background while the employee, customer or other business partner simply sees the information that matters, at every point of work.

How this upskilling is expressed depends on the company. In my recent visits with customers, I’ve heard it expressed as a new-found confidence:

“I call it the confidence of communication,” said one engineering executive I met with last week at a F50 company, “confidence of collaboration, and that’s where the magic of innovation happens.” When young scientists and engineers know all about their esteemed colleagues’ work and research, they are more confident to approach them to collaborate – and on the opposite side, experienced scientists are happy to collaborate with their more informed junior partners.

Another executive, in a customer support function, reported that new agents were able to come up to speed much faster than in the past: “We’ve made some changes in our training materials,” he said, “but Coveo helps our new agents, staffed in emerging markets, to answer questions right away.” He cited a decrease in time to proficiency from two years to two months. Clearly these are the values companies expected in the KPMG report, along with more engaged customers, who benefit from self-service that simply shows them what they need to learn at any point in time and on any device.

With skills being the primary growth constraint of business, as reported in both of the past two years by the Gartner CEO Survey, intelligent search as a service holds the key to help people keep up with the spinning cloud while firmly using all of that earth-bound data. The benefits are transformational.