What can we expect from tech and, more specifically, the cloud in 2014? Interactions with cloud software will become more fluid as big data becomes the norm. And, companies will get used to interacting with customers to make changes in real time. Here, I’ll cover three ways cloud will change how we work in 2014.

Big Data Becomes the Norm

All the talk about big data may have you dreaming up various scenarios that could happen in the future. In 2014, the future is here. We’ll see companies actually using big data, instead of just collecting data, to increase revenue. For customers, this will give new meaning to being totally connected and online. For business, it will mean understanding and reacting to entire client segments, including highly specialized ones. The need for transparency in how data is collected and used will be paramount as it becomes easier than ever to implement big data solutions. Expect highly-targeted marketing and a more level playing field. Solutions like Hubspot and Marketo that any company can use, including mom and pops, will dominate the marketplace. Also expect an all-hands-on-deck type of response. While big data was previously thought of as being just an IT function, marketing, HR and finance departments will need to get up to speed and on board too. (Learn more about big data in Big Data: How It's Captured, Crunched and Used to Make Business Decisions.)

Instant Customer Feedback and Collaboration

Customers and developers will have rich interactions with more instant feedback and collaboration. For some companies, this is already happening with social media and live online support. The new standard will be to create built-in feedback functions and ways to connect directly to the developer. It’s a win-win for both the company and client; the client gets their voice heard in real-time and the development team gets real feedback about what’s working and what isn't. This type of integration is expected to help generate more revenue for the company, but in a world of massive options, it also builds community, trust and repeat customers. Expect add-ons like Google’s app-install and Apptentive, among others, to lead the pack for apps. Also expect more custom feedback solutions for software and other interactive consumer products.

Products Delivered in Real Time

In addition to having real-time collaboration with customers and the data to back it up, a new, continuous delivery model will also require IT and business to deliver products in real time. In order to stay competitive, companies will need to move faster and create a streamlined creation, development and deployment process. This trend will also allow companies to create products and apps that are improved, primarily, based on customer feedback and collaboration. Pre-ordering and crowdfunding from loyal clients will become even more popular. Real-time feedback will also allow for more products or more custom features on an existing product. Plus, product updates and quickly implementing compliance mandates for certain industries will be a breeze via the cloud. (Learn more in The 5 Ways Cloud Technology Will Change the IT Landscape.)

With all this collaboration and interaction, companies and employees, especially those in IT, will need to be comfortable with being visible. This is also the time to be really honest about mistakes or delays in updates or product enhancements. Finally, now is a good time to be clear about what your company is capable of in terms of functions for a particular product. This year is really all about what you can do for clients and how quick, how transparent and how collaborative you can be during the process.