September 07, 2020

5 Powerful Ways Cloud Technology Can Transform Your Company

By Gavin Loveland, Product Manager at SEACOM

Cloud computing has revolutionised the way in which many businesses develop their service offerings and make them available to customers. It has enabled organisations to remove the infrastructure restrictions that once formed integral points of dependency in the delivery of new features and capabilities. It has given rise to platforms that enable rapid development and significant reductions in time to market, and to applications that have streamlined business operations, giving users access to functions and data from wherever they have Internet connectivity. Technology innovation is happening faster than ever before, and the cloud is playing a vital role in shaping the ‘new normal’, which increasingly requires a blend of office-based and remote work.

While South Africa and the rest of the world have experienced a significant spike in cloud adoption, many businesses are still unaware of the potential benefits enabled by the cloud or are apprehensive about the potential risks that come with migrating to the cloud. Here are five compelling business benefits that address or outweigh common concerns.

1. Cost Savings and Predictability

Finding ways to save money is important for any business in today’s challenging economy. In fact, for many businesses, the directive pushing cloud adoption is the result of understanding the benefits that come with operationalising spend as well as the potential cost savings. Being able to budget based on your current needs without having to account for the future until it comes, means that, until it does come, there is no resultant cost. This, coupled with the ability to quickly scale up and down as needs arise - still only paying for what you use - allows you to tighten the proverbial belt to the highest possible degree.

But what about “cloud repatriation” led by uncontrolled expenses? While there are horror stories pertaining to organisations moving workloads back off the cloud due to unforeseen expenses, this is entirely avoidable. The key to unlocking savings when migrating to the cloud is to do it intentionally. Without adequate end-state forethought and migration path planning, managing spend can become tricky. Robust and predictable pricing options, cost calculators and spend management controls are also often made available by cloud providers to ensure adopters can meet objectives centred around a budget.

2. Flexibility

The cloud promotes flexibility in more ways than one article could ever adequately encapsulate. There are so many domains in which degrees of commitment are diminishing as a result of cloud adoption - be it commitment to owned assets or particular technologies, or even commitment to specific vendors. The notion of having to stick with a mistake just because you spent money and effort making it is a thing of the past.

Solutions that run in the cloud also tend to support a more flexible working culture for businesses of all sizes. The psychology of the workplace is changing, and removing the physical constraints that may be present in your current way of working promotes flexibility and operational efficiency across your teams. Not only has this proven to establish better work-life balance for employees, but it also makes other opportunities and benefits accessible for certain businesses, such as reducing expenses on office space and other infrastructure that may be necessary to support operations.

Of course, with workforce mobility comes concerns pertaining to things like security and data loss, or even human resource management. However, with the implementation of the necessary controls enabled by various cloud technologies, and a methodical approach to managing cultural change, this too can be appropriately addressed.

3. Security and Control

By now it should be clear that, for the most part, security in the cloud is not something that can be taken for granted - any more than the protection of what happens within your own network perimeter can be taken for granted. The shared responsibility model forms the foundation of many cloud security use cases, and while the provider may protect the resources they make available to the customer, it is up to the customer to secure anything they put on there (be it virtual machines, applications or data).

However, that is not to say that the customer is left in the dark when it comes to the security of their cloud assets. On the contrary, cloud providers should make controls, solutions or added services available to aid in addressing security concerns. From intuitive monitoring solutions to easy-to-use network, host and application security controls, there are a wide array of solutions to meet your security needs.

4. Efficiency

One quickly recognisable benefit that comes with cloud adoption is efficiency. Cutting out unnecessary overheads addressed by cloud infrastructure offerings (such availability, scalability or upgrades) allows IT personnel to focus less on keeping the lights on, and more on core business objectives. Using cloud-hosted, managed applications and platforms further takes focus away from simple business support components that may have nothing to do with your core business, and often also forms building blocks in rapid innovation.

The cloud helps realise efficiencies in many other ways, such as those enabled by flexibility benefits. Employees empowered with cloud-based communication and collaboration tools serve to improve operations and cut out unnecessary lead times that are often products of inefficient operations.

Often, fear of the unknown and, occasionally, the assumed ‘learning cliff’ associated with cloud adoption leads businesses to believe that operations may be adversely affected for a period of time, constrained by knowledge gaps as they migrate. However, with adequate planning and management, and the necessary training, this need not be the case.

5. Strategic Advantage

While accessing your organisational data may be straight forward now, for many, drawing useful information from that data to inform business decisions, is not. Approaching cloud data modelling with the appropriate forethought, and leveraging the available analytics or business intelligence solutions, can provide new insights into (among many other things) market trends. This will put you in a better position to respond to change, or customer relationships, enabling improved customer engagement. Additionally, giving your team the ability to innovate rapidly with cloud technologies also enables your business to reduce time to market in terms of these innovations. Coupled with achieved efficiency and enhanced collaboration, this is key to putting your business ahead of the curve.

The Catch

Contrary to what some may think, many of these benefits are not inherent characteristics of cloud computing but are rather products of appropriate implementation and use. If poorly adopted or mismanaged, the cloud can have adverse effects in the context of certain objectives, like cost savings and system security. However, if implemented and managed well, the cloud is your key to a healthier business, and choosing the right cloud provider is a step in the right direction.

Don’t be left behind

If your business does not have a cloud strategy yet, you are probably missing out on numerous benefits, from potential cost savings to gaining a strategic edge on your competitors. Migrating key components of your business to the cloud may just enable you to focus more time and attention on your core business and allow you to provide superior service to your customers. It could cut down on overheads currently hampering growth and give your workforce the agility and flexibility they need to do their best work.