Tech's future up in the clouds at DEMO Fall '11

Tech's future up in the clouds at DEMO Fall '11

For years we've been subjected to endless amounts of PR describing the wonders cloud computing will bring. At this year's DEMO Fall, we finally got to see some of them.

And if the offerings on display at DEMO are any indication, cloud-based services are likely to make the Web more collaborative and even more responsive to what we want. Let's start with WeVideo, the new cloud-based service that not only lets users upload videos they've filmed directly onto the Web but also allows for robust video editing capabilities by multiple collaborators at once. So if you and a friend are filming scenes from a tech convention at the same time, you can upload both of your videos onto the same WeVideo account and have a third friend edit the production with proper transitions, music, titles and so forth. The goal is to use the cloud to vastly lessen the time it takes to film, edit and produce a high-quality video production.

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"On a desktop computer you have limited processing capability and limited storage," says WeVideo CEO Jostein Svendsen. "What we have done now is by being in the cloud we have an unlimited amount of storage and processing power. Most people when they start rendering on desktops, they find that video takes longer to render. This is a true paradigm shift in terms of use and speed."

The cloud isn't just for high-bandwidth applications such as video sharing, either. Take Unrabble, a job-posting cloud-based technology that tries to help companies verify the information job applicants put on résumés by ensuring that their claims are backed up by colleagues on social networks. It works like this: Job applicants are allowed to post a "brag" on their Unrabble profile that highlights an achievement that they are particularly proud of. Unrabble then finds past or present colleagues on the user's social networking contacts to verify whether the "brag" is accurate.

Unrabble also lets companies create specific categories of the types of expertise they're looking for in a candidate beyond the standard job description. So if you're looking for someone who has a background in marketing who also has worked extensively pushing products in the SaaS industry, you'll be able to enter in keywords that will prioritize those traits and save you the time of reading through countless résumés that don't have what you're looking for.

"We believe it's time hiring evolved and killed the one-dimensional résumé," said Unrabble CEO Kevin Watson during his presentation. "Rather than [candidates] uploading résumés into a black hole some place we let them build a profile to show who they really are."

Cloud-based services aren't just being designed to make workers' lives easier but to make customers' lives easier as well. Take Hold-Free Networks, a cloud-based SaaS that wants to eliminate the need to wait on hold on customer-service hotlines by having customer-service representatives call customers at their own convenience. Here's the lowdown: If you do business with a company that utilizes Hold-Free, you'll be able to click on an icon on that company's website that will help you set up a time to place a customer-service call. You'll initially be presented with some simple menu options that will direct your call to the proper department and you'll also get to select a timeframe when you'd like to make a call.

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As soon as a customer service representative is available, they'll receive a notification telling them to call you to address your concerns. This way, you can go about your daily business without spending long periods waiting for a customer service rep to answer your call. The service can also be accessed across multiple platforms so you can make call reservations over PCs, tablets or smartphones. Hold-Free Networks CEO Lance Fried says the advent of both smartphones and cloud technologies have made traditional customer service systems obsolete, especially if you can design a SaaS that eliminates all of customer service hotlines' most loathsome features.

"The biggest trend we've seen is that consumers are more empowered," says Fried, explaining impetus behind the creation of Hold-Free. "They now have smartphones and they self-publish and they demand a better customer-service experience."

If cloud technologies take off the way Demo attendees hope, you might soon see several of life's little annoyances - whether it's job searching, waiting on hold for customer service or waiting for a video to post online -made slightly less irritating by the cloud.

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