The cloud: changing the way businesses work
Mobility and the cloud are profoundly changing the way businesses do business. Advances in technology, led by powerful mobile computing connected to fast and ever-present networks that access intelligent services in the cloud, mean that we’re in the throes of what many say is the biggest technological revolution of recent times.
What’s more, businesses that adopt the cloud and introduce smart ways of working are reaping the rewards. According to a study conducted by George Westerman, research scientist at MIT Center for Digital Business, companies that are “digital masters” are 26 per cent more profitable than their peers in a particular industry.
“These leaders drive transformation top down,” George says. “Technology for them is not just a technology. It’s a way to rethink how their business operates. The only way to make that happen is to drive it from the top.
So how exactly is the transition from using out-of-the-box software to cloud-based systems altering working behaviours?
The big benefit of cloud technology (including cloud printing solutions) is that it’s an everywhere computing platform, so it gives the corporate world unparalleled mobility. With the cloud, employees can access and share business-related data from anywhere so whether employees want to work from home or share files and documents with colleagues across the world, it’s easily possible. And, thanks to the cloud’s all-encompassing storage capabilities, files, data, and documents are kept in a central storage location, which keeps corporations on the same page all the time.
The ability to scan, share, access, edit and print documents from any device at any time makes businesses of all sizes more agile and responsive, which can only be a good thing.
Big data is indeed a big thing! Any organisation that manages data needs intelligent administration. Cloud technology enables consistent and reliable collection, verification and tracking of information and, when necessary, efficient reorganisation of data. This means data can be tracked analysed in real time via relevant software, freeing up resources to focus on analysing data and taking action. Cloud-based technologies allow companies to access sophisticated programmes which can sort and validate vast quantities of data quickly, easily and often at a fraction of the cost of installed software.
One of the major benefits of cloud-based systems is that it makes flexible and collaborative working simple. With a program hosted in the cloud, employees can sign in across a range of devices. This makes it possible to run bring your own device (BYOD) schemes, which are increasingly popular as the rapid evolution of technology often means that people have access to better IT at home than at work.
Deloitte research reveals a strong correlation between employee engagement and working collaboratively, as well as flexible working practices. Unified communications such as videoconferencing will be the big deal as businesses adopt full cloud-based mobility.
Working entirely via smartphone or tablet is a viable option with the cloud – especially as faster wifi networks and 4G are rolled out. Businesses are dependent on real-time communications, and thanks to these new faster networks, people can now use smartphones and tablets to run all their key business processes without worrying about slow or lost data transmission.
No worries about updates
Upgrading software can be a daunting task, especially when those updates take place on a massive corporate level. But, because cloud service providers handle all of the maintenance aspects of cloud computing, the corporate world doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of system updates. Cloud service providers take care of all the necessary system updates and upgrades, including all security updates. This allows corporations to concentrate on the job at hand without having to put the working day on hold while updates take place.
On the IT side, what business understands about the use of cloud computing is that it’s typically a positive step toward providing the business with a much faster turnaround time from the identification of a need to implementing business solutions, and cloud can accomplish the project’s goals at a greatly reduced price. While you can argue the benefits and deficits for each company, or problem domain, speaking in general terms, the cloud has been a success for business.
It also makes organisations more agile. Cloud-based systems enable organisations to monitor and respond rapidly to events, whether it’s an issue with a product, a PR opportunity or changing market conditions, ultimately leading to excellent customer service.
The cloud will automatically make small businesses global and drive greater customer satisfaction. Small businesses are now able to do a lot of things that, in the past, only large companies could do. Technology is becoming less expensive and more accessible to any size business, which will drive more global operations. Small businesses will become more competitive, as they will no longer have the same scale limitations.
According to Microsoft, migrating to cloud-based applications can reduce organisations’ energy use and carbon footprints by 30 per cent. For small businesses, that figure can climb to 70 per cent, offering considerable financial and environmental benefits.
While we’ve outlined some of the major top level benefits of cloud above, it’s worth pointing out that cloud computing isn’t necessarily a quick change. Within most companies, cloud computing will be an evolving use of new technology as it makes sense for the business. Thus, the changes will be slow and systemic. However quickly it is implemented, the one thing we can be certain is that cloud technology will change the way we do business.