How to harness the strategic value of the cloud

When it comes to the concerns of today’s workforce it’s safe to say that they have changed significantly compared to those of ten years ago. An example of this is employees becoming increasingly expectant of their employers to support a ‘flexible’ way of working.

Technology is becoming more significant in everyday life and remote working, amongst other trends, has become a popular characteristic of the modern worker. Cloud applications have quickly become associated with flexibility because they provide employees with more choice in how they work.

However, from the viewpoint of a SMB, cloud applications often come under the umbrella of ‘shadow IT’, technology that is used within an organisation without clear approval. What this means for organisations is an absence of control and further complexities. Considering this, the organisational benefits of cloud can be disregarded. Additionally, there is the risk that the potential value to the business never comes to fruition.

As technology becomes progressively incorporated in working life, what can businesses do to ensure they realise the full value of the cloud?

The importance of cloud technology

Technology has come a long way and employee expectations have evolved in conjunction with this. Our research, Cloud Ready, ‘Unlocking the strategic value of cloud for SMBs’ revealed that nearly half (49 per cent) of employees consider the quality of available technology and applications when deciding on one employer over the other, demonstrating how important technology is within organisations.

The emergence of cloud applications signifies the growing trend of technology empowering today’s workforce. Our research highlights that nearly two-thirds of employees (64 per cent) believe cloud applications play an important role in supporting their day-to-day work.

Ultimately, workers feel more comfortable and at ease when using cloud apps. Although application use is highly dependent on business function, 83 per cent report that given the opportunity, they would prefer to use cloud applications as opposed to on-premise apps.

Employee thoughts on technology at work

The cloud is playing an increasingly important role in the day-to-day work of SMB employees. It provides both ease and flexibility and contributes to workers feeling happier and more productive when using cloud apps in their day-to-day jobs. The result of this has seen attitudes towards technology at work evolve with employees today expecting their employer to provide the technology they need to do their jobs.

They see having the appropriate tools as a fundamental requirement, whether this is reliable software (86 per cent) or reliable hardware (84 per cent) and, in a fragile economic climate, something they now expect more than a competitive salary (75 per cent) and other benefits from potential employers.

Embrace cloud technology now

SMBs are already benefitting from cloud deployments and there has never been a better time for them to embrace cloud technology and increase the business value from the cloud.

Despite the various benefits delivered by cloud, businesses are uncertain on how to best manage this new way of working. Generally, there are now proper procedures in place where cloud apps are being utilised. Businesses need to be more strategic when it comes to putting structure in place to ensure cloud use is more aligned with their businesses plans.

SMBs should consider cloud as part of their wider IT strategy and implement policies and procedures to control the use of cloud. By doing so they will be able to deliver the safe, secure and flexible working environment that workers desire to drive increased productivity. Our research demonstrates that approximately half of workers (45 per cent) report that their organisation has a definitive policy in place when it comes to controlling the use of cloud applications within their business.

The cloud fosters flexibility

Cloud and cloud apps are now fundamental for modern workers due to the fact they create a more flexible working environment. They contribute to independent and remote working as well as allowing employees to work quickly and efficiently. The result of this flexible infrastructure is a more productive workforce that is able to quickly react to the needs of customers. When businesses have the latest information, they can provide a truly relevant and informed service.

The cloud is here to stay, as a result we need to manage it in an effective manner. With people using technology in a growing number of ways, there is the expectation that the standards and opportunities in their working lives are the same as their personal lives.

Employees will be looking for speed, security and simplicity and it is employers who are expected to deliver the necessary tools for this.

Brenda Morris, general manager, UK, Kronos