At this point most businesses use the cloud in some format. Research shows that 94 per cent of enterprises have some kind of cloud computing service within the organisation. However, in many cases making use of the cloud isn’t all that strategic – it’s just how a particular service is consumed. For example, making use of Microsoft Teams or Microsoft 365 is making us of a cloud service. Organisations that formalise plans to operate in the cloud stand to gain so much more from it.
Organisations stand to gain a lot from technology. They’ll run more efficiently, be able to do more, and fully capitalise on the opportunities that arise in the market. As KMPG has noted, 80 per cent of revenue growth into the future will depend on digital offerings, and for that, organisations need cloud.
Some of the key benefits of the cloud include:
1) Greater security – There is a global shortage in cybersecurity skills. At the same time, there is an increase in security threats. For many organisations, one of the greatest lures towards the cloud is the security benefits that come with it. By investing in a cloud service, the organisation is also outsourcing the security of that service to a trusted partner. As a good cloud provider will have a large security team, the organisation benefits from that expertise.
2) Better business resilience – A cloud service can be accessed from anywhere in the world; all a user needs to do is log in online. This in turn results in better business resilience, since your people no longer need to be in a specific location to access their work. Without cloud services, if your office should experience damage, or you are otherwise unable to access the space, then your people can’t work, and that “down time” can be catastrophic to the business.
3) Cost efficiency – Cloud services are billed on a monthly (or possibly annually) basis, but don’t involve upfront costs. This is a massive benefit in the long run to businesses. Previously, technology would be bought up-front: you would pay for new hardware (such as servers, storage, and endpoint devices), and software (licenses). This would often result in unexpected costs – for example, if a server suddenly needed replacing, then you’d need to make a large upfront cost that you hadn’t previously anticipated. With cloud, however, the expenditure is shifted from Capex to Opex, meaning, in turn, that costs become predictable and reliable.
4) Better collaboration – Cloud services have certainly benefited organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing people to work safely from home. Video conferencing and cloud-based document sharing meant that employees didn’t need to be in the same room to work together. Looking more broadly however, cloud collaboration means that employees can work with people they’ve never met before. Imagine that you need a specific set of skills within the organisation, but can’t find anyone locally with that skill set. Without needing to go to the massive expense in relocating someone, you could hire from a distance, and then have that person join the team remotely. Cloud therefore gives you greater access to specialists.
5) Sustainability – Most organisations feel increasing pressure to be more sustainable in how they work, and the cloud can help here, too. Firstly, it reduces the reliance on power-hungry data centres within the organisation and outsources them to a third party, who can achieve greater efficiencies through scale. Secondly, it is through the cloud that organisations can achieve a paperless office, as documents are produced and shared digitally, and this helps cut down on waste. Furthermore, if you allow your people to work remotely, then their personal footprint is reduced as they no longer need to travel into the office every day.
6) Office cost savings – As has been mentioned a couple of times previously, cloud services enable remote work. This can have a big impact on office expenses. You may well want to maintain an office space for client meetings or to give people a place to come and work when they want to, but when it’s not required of your people, you don’t need a seat for every employee, and the office space can therefore be smaller. You could also look at relocating the office to a more regional space, rather than the CBD locations that come at a premium, and save further that way.
7) You’ll understand your business better – One major benefit of cloud computing is the amount of data that is generated as people work online. A cloud service will create all of this data about how the service is being used and its performance, that can be presented back to you via reports and analytics. That data can subsequently be used to improve business processes and deliver a better experience for both your people and your customers.
8) Greater flexibility and agility – One final benefit of cloud is that it enables you to be more responsive. To scale up the business through traditional computing, for example, you would need to purchase new equipment and install it before the capacity becomes available. With Cloud services, however, you simply add on the capacity as you need it. Conversely, when you don’t need the extra capacity, you can reduce your cloud consumption, leading to savings, when through traditional IT you would have all that equipment you invested in under-utilised. This is particularly beneficial for organisations that have seasonal demands – for example, if you’re a retailer and have a big sale online, the cloud can help you handle the increased traffic to your website for the duration of that sale.
The cloud offers benefits to organisations of all sizes – smaller businesses can access enterprise-grade services that they otherwise couldn’t afford, and the largest of enterprises can create a business platform that delivers a more effective and efficient global operation. You can start small with cloud services, strategically adopting the technology that makes sense at the time (for example, Microsoft Teams to allow people to work from home), but you should strategically plan to move as much of your business to the cloud as possible in the years ahead.