Cloud technology and its impact on the corporate sector
Adrian Clark, Director of Business Systems, Epson Europe, delves into the integration of Cloud technology in the day-to-day life of the corporate sector and the boosts in efficiency it can facilitate within businesses of all sizes.
Cloud technology is having a major impact on the corporate sector
The emergence of cloud technology as a business tool is linked inexorably to the evolution of the internet from a new technology to an invaluable, everyday communication medium. The term ‘the cloud’ has entered our vocabulary as a catch-all name for the space at the end of our internet connection from where we can access applications, games and storage.
Why the ‘cloud’? Believe it or not, the cloud symbol was used on network maps to denote the internet, and it became seen as the demarcation point between what a provider was responsible for and what users were responsible for, no matter how they were connected. It’s certainly an apt usage of the symbol.
Gathering cloud cover
Since then the cloud – and more specifically its capabilities – have increased in size. Just two years ago in 2013, worldwide spending on cloud-based services ran to an estimated $47 billion. By 2017 it is projected that this will double to well over $108 billion as companies increase their investments in cloud services to be used as the bedrocks of compelling new offerings. This huge rise in spend could be attributable to the fact that using cloud-based services removes company responsibility for some IT services and places it in the hands of application service providers (ASPs).
ASPs will be responsible for the uptime of business-critical applications, infrastructure and data storage, they will work WITH company IT teams to provide a 24/7 level of service. For example, instead of having to update every single machine in an office, new updates will be rolled out directly to the cloud application itself – this is one of the key benefits of using cloud-based technology in business. When used efficiently, the cloud allows companies to focus their attention on running the business, not sorting out compatibility issues.
Practical efficiency boosts
The benefits of working on a cloud-based app are tied to the fact that using it is as simple as opening a browser, logging in, and starting work. Take the example of how field sales representatives use cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to get all available information they need sent to their mobile devices. Notes can be updated in real time so they are written fresh and complete, and available to others immediately. The knock-on effect is that sales managers can also keep track and know exactly which deals will close and when from their desktop machines in their offices, or on their tablets or phones when they’re on the road.
Google has also capitalised on this growing trend by releasing a line of cloud-reliant laptops called Chromebooks. They have minimal internal storage – enough for an Android operating system – and rely instead on high-speed access to the internet and thereby the cloud. Businesses are already picking up on these laptops as an affordable way of outfitting a mobile sales force with easy access to jointly-used applications and services.
All around us
Think about it, without the cloud our modern lives would be so different. It’s become so vital to our everyday lives that people use it instinctively. The technology has transformed the business landscape by enabling modern organisations to depend on cloud services for everything from creating a document to managing financial accounts and printer fleets. The cloud allows for total focus to be placed on efficiency, and it can grow with your business as you upscale. A business could start with just a website hosting package, but can add ecommerce portals, big data storage or large-scale backups of business data in case of system faults.
The future is bright for cloud-based technology, indeed the only thing holding back its growth and spread is the speed of your internet connection. Be mindful, however, that cloud technology will not offer an immediate victory, view it instead as a tool to reduce the cost of failure and to future-proofing your business. In real terms, cloud technology creates a truly level IT playing field, with smaller to medium businesses actively able to compete against the larger enterprises.
The take-home messages
So, what next? After taking the plunge and committing to utilising cloud-based technology in your business, what are the key pieces of advice? First and foremost, commitment to using the cloud is a continuous process. Adoption must not be seen as just another technology integrated into your business, it is absolutely a business-enhancing journey that spans from initial strategies to execution.
Secondly, make sure to set up the infrastructure to measure how successful the use of cloud tech in your business is. Work to develop realistic outcomes for cloud-transformation projects that link to your business objectives. That way, you will always know if your solutions are working or where they need to be enhanced.
Third, understand that cloud transformations will only succeed when a business can truly integrate solutions into every corner of the business. Putting users into boxes will impede the transformation process, but cross-business collaboration will drive it. Business and IT professionals will be working shoulder to shoulder as they adopt and integrate the new technology into their daily duties.
Leading on from the above point, make a determined choice to drive cloud transformation from the top of the business. Manage your business’ cloud adoption from a centrally-positioned team with users feeding information up to them. Strategic decisions will be made quicker and solutions applied more efficiently this way.
Finally, adopt the technologies that will most enhance your business. Understand your options, clearly plan your strategies, and you’ll find that integrating cloud-based solutions into your business will achieve what you want them to achieve.