Why Cloud Computing is Critical to Your Business’ Success
At the dawn of the Internet era, the pace of new digital technologies that promised to transform the way we live and do business was dizzying. Phrases like “cloud computing,” “Big Data,” “AI,” “augmented reality,” and many others worked their way into mainstream language, with futurists, tech companies, and others convinced of their promise. But as with many innovations, early applications of these technologies did not fulfill this promise as developers continued to refine, learn, and optimize them.
Indeed, we won’t see the full potential of tech like AI for quite some time. And business leaders and senior managers, especially those outside of the tech industry or field, may approach these innovations with a grain of skepticism. No matter whether one or more of these technologies has, in fact, matured and been widely adopted, some business leaders remain myopically focused on traditional ways of doing business, including the continued use of legacy systems with which they can no longer effectively compete.
Despite the wide adoption of cloud computing, many businesses still rely on on-premise (on-prem) data centers. But in today’s world, there are fewer justifiable reasons for maintaining one than ever. Even in fields where regulations demand specific data be stored, and security measures be met, cloud computing vendors have developed industry-specific solutions. And businesses that strategically leverage cloud computing enjoy undeniable benefits, such as improved:
- Strategic insights
- Cost savings
- Flexibility and scalability
- Data loss prevention
Businesses of all sizes have seen these improvements from adopting cloud-based technologies. And yours can too.
Cloud-based platforms allow employees to share data and work on projects in real-time seamlessly. Because your data center is not striving to allocate limited resources across your organization, you won’t have to worry about high latency periods and excessive downtime. And because your employees will be working on singular, centrally stored documents, you’ll be able to keep your data consistent, minimize errors, and keep a full record of all updates. For example, Macy’s, Ohio’s second-largest employer, uses Google’s Cloud platform to manage its inventory efficiently across its distribution centers. “Working with Google Cloud allows us to be more nimble, efficient and flexible in how we utilize our warehouses,” said Macy’s CTO, Naveen Krishna.
Further, teams and departments no longer must operate in silos due to missing information. For example, your finance, marketing, and sales teams will have greater access to critical data from their respective departments, allowing them to optimize marketing and sales activities to maximize revenue.
Enterprise-wide cloud-based platforms aggregate, sort, and organize data from across your organization, giving you and your team greater data visibility across your company. Recognizing patterns in this data can easily give you the insights you need to identify opportunities and detect threats. For example, by aggregating spending data across departments, you may find that different departments are buying duplicate items, and you’re losing money in the process. Conversely, you may identify consumer demands for a new product feature in your customer service and social media data representing a new revenue opportunity.
On-prem data centers require significant capital expenses (CapEx) and ongoing expenses (OpEx) to keep them secure and current with business demands. However, these days, business needs often evolve more quickly than on-prem data centers can adapt. Cloud platforms are subscription-based services, allowing you to pay as you go. Further, you pay for the services you need, including data storage space and applications, keeping your OpEx low.
Many of these platforms have licensed versions of mainstream software applications built into their subscription packages. Given these advantages you can save significant sums using cloud-based applications. For example, Avery Dennison, a global manufacturing company recently noted that their cloud-first approach saves their firm an estimated $5 million per year.
You may believe that companies who move to cloud-based applications no longer need IT staff. That’s simply not the case. When you move to a cloud-based platform, your IT staff can focus on strategic, revenue-driving tasks rather than spend their days managing your data. Often, cloud-based platforms also have built-in support, which can alleviate your in-house IT staff’s helpdesk burden. Instead, your staff can help you optimize your platform to increase productivity across departments, help develop new product features and services as necessary and refine your ecommerce operations, for example.
Flexibility and Scalability
If consumer demand for a new product or service surges, you need to be prepared to handle it. Business expansion often requires a substantial transformation of a firm’s operations, including IT. You may need to expand your staff, data centers, and software applications to accommodate this new development. But expanding a data center takes time, as does retiring legacy software and installing new applications. Moreover, you may need your software packages to perform functions beyond their off-the-shelf functions that require custom scripting. In other words, you may lack the time and resources to adapt as quickly as you need to take advantage of this new opportunity.
Cloud-based platforms allow you to expand your data storage need and application usage as simply as filling out an online form. Further, cloud vendors realize that every business has different processes and workflows. They build a high degree of customization options into their packages to ensure that business customers have the flexibility they need to adapt to an ever-changing environment.
After the Colonial Pipeline attack, data security should be at the forefront of every business leader’s mind. A business’ in-house data center staff must not only ensure that every facet of your organization has the network, software, and hardware resources they need. They also must continuously monitor, identify, and address cyber incidents, keep up with the latest threats and vulnerabilities, and continually upgrade your system to safeguard it from intrusion.
But in-house IT staff often report they lack the staffing and expertise to manage cybersecurity as effectively as their organization requires. Further, their efforts to manage cybersecurity are often deprioritized in favor of other internal work. In some cases, senior managers simply do not take cybersecurity as seriously as they should.
Cloud vendors prioritize security as they must safeguard the data of all of their clients. They dedicate staff specifically to keep up-to-date with new and emerging security concerns to ensure your data is safe. You don’t have to worry about whether a leadership change will leave a critical cybersecurity position unfilled, upending your efforts to protect your organization when you move to a cloud-based platform. Moreover, cloud vendors can keep your data secure through automatic security updates that don’t require your IT staff time or result in excessive downtime.
Data Loss Prevention
By letting your data physically reside on a server, you’re dependent on that server’s continued operation for continued data access. But the moment your hardware malfunctions, you lose data, which may prove critical to your ongoing operation. Further, if you employ field staff, a simple lost company-owned laptop or phone could be catastrophic if the data on those devices is not backed up somewhere. However, all of this data remains secure and accessible to you and your team when using cloud-based applications. While a lost laptop is being replaced, your operations can continue unimpeded.
Cloud-based applications should also be central to your emergency response and business continuity plans. In case of a disaster, you’ll need to be able to resume operations quickly. If, for example, your office burns down, data stored locally on your servers will be lost if not backed up on a cloud platform or somewhere offsite. Such a scenario could put you out of business unless you have a robust data recovery and backup plan. Cloud backups should be an integral part of that plan.
Businesses across industries continue to see tremendous productivity improvements and enjoy greater cost savings while mitigating risk to a far greater extent than they could independently. If you’re thinking about or looking to transition to cloud-based data storage or find the enterprise-wide cloud-based solution that’s right for you, we at Rea & Associates Solutions are happy to help. Our decades-long experience in the Ohio area can help give you the competitive advantage you need to grow, scale, and protect your business. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can work together.