Originally, cloud computing was promoted based on a simple, compelling proposition – moving capital expenditure into operating expenditure, and consequently delivering financial and operational flexibility to businesses. This was – and is – no small benefit - by freeing up capital, while giving a company the flexibility to meet evolving operational needs, there is a huge boost to most businesses. Companies have access to funds for expansion and new business initiatives, and the ability to respond to growth market opportunities more quickly.
However, as we transition to a post-Covid world, businesses are realizing that more than ever, they need more than agility built into infrastructure to stay ahead in tomorrow’s uncertain, but no less competitive environment. As a result, cloud-based enterprise software has had to evolve into a platform that enables quicker responses to opportunities and customer needs.
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Transforming IT into a revenue generating powerhouse
The scope of IT is expanding beyond a role that helps keep the lights on, to one that finds a way to monetize the data from the lights and turn it into a product for customers. In fact, 89 per cent of CIOs expect to have revenue-generating responsibilities in 2020. The CIOs of 2025 and beyond will need to shoulder more strategic responsibilities across a broader span of the business, by finding ways to generate profits for their company with new products and services.
Even now, companies are asking more of their IT departments. IT teams are usually the system architects of the executive team’s empire-building visions, whether that includes expanding into new countries, providing new products or services requiring new business processes, or squeezing even more efficiency from current workflows.
Cloud software partners will need to assume the duties of day-to-day software management whilst the customer CIO focuses his or her team’s time on value-added initiatives for the organization, including uncovering and monetizing new products and services.
When IT resources are solely focused on maintaining existing infrastructure and on-premises solutions, they become stuck in a defensive operational mode—keeping things up and running becomes an overwhelming effort.
Consequently, the team struggles to get ahead of the basics to support more strategic initiatives that can facilitate organizational change.
Cloud-based solutions empower an organization to take risks—allowing companies to pursue new business opportunities without adding expensive infrastructure. It becomes possible to take advantage of new, innovative functionality more quickly and cost-effectively than was historically possible. If an initiative succeeds, it can be scaled seamlessly to a wider audience. If it fails, the project can be shut down quickly.
This level of flexibility enables companies to foster a culture that’s more conducive to implementing new, innovative ideas—not just within IT, but throughout the entire organization.
Fuel global growth
For many organizations, emerging markets and remote locations comprise the next great business frontier.
However, capitalizing on those opportunities can be complex and expensive, as getting the technical skills and equipment in place to establish operations is a large undertaking.
This is compounded by the fact that there are so many variables such as what skills will be available to support enterprise systems or what types of new regulations and reporting requirements will have to be met? These quickly become an almost impenetrable barrier to global growth.
Cloud-based solutions allow businesses to establish a new presence rapidly or expand existing operations in virtually any region without having to physically be there, which substantially minimizes both capital investments and risk.
They also offer better business outcomes by allowing remote offices to operate seamlessly alongside other business units and make it easier to share information regardless of partner or supplier location. In addition, a robust cloud solution will likely have support for multiple languages and currencies, which makes localization much easier to achieve.
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Keeping aligned with continuous changes in software, security and regulations is complex, manual, and expensive. It is a gargantuan effort, and yet, businesses have no option but to do their best to comply.
Put simply, the cloud excels at compliance. In a cloud-based SaaS world, security and compliance updates can be pushed out automatically to the entire organization as soon as they’re available. Not only does this simplify the process of keeping systems up to date, it also ensures that everyone in the company has access to the latest information and tools to do their jobs effectively.
Capitalizing on this opportunity to rein in the complexity, cost, and risk of compliance is relevant to nearly every business, though it is particularly compelling to highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare. The approach also offers huge value for firms operating in multiple countries, which can make regulatory and compliance challenges even more complex and costly.
Achieve global, 24x7 service
In today’s economy, downtime means lost revenue. Companies cannot afford to have critical applications offline. If a customer can’t do business with a company, the competition will be more than happy to take over. And in a world, that’s always “switched on,” keeping the proverbial lights burning around the clock is fast becoming a business imperative.
Modern cloud computing solutions are available every day, 24 hours a day, no matter where employees are located or what devices they’re using. Because cloud computing providers deploy equipment that is typically far more reliable than anything most companies would use for their own on-premise solutions, they can achieve system up-time levels that are difficult to match.
Decrease risk, increase collaboration and productivity
To do their jobs better, faster, and more flexibly, workers have turned increasingly to “shadow systems” outside of officially sanctioned core IT applications. Personal mobile devices are used to tap into the company network. Teams use personal file-sharing accounts and project management tools to work on projects together.
In an ironic twist, workers are implementing their own cloud-based solutions to achieve the ease of use and functionality they need but aren’t getting from their own IT departments.
These applications aren’t necessarily “bad,” yet if used in the wrong way or not surrounded by the proper security infrastructure and protocols, they can expose businesses to unnecessary risk—theft of intellectual property, lost data, even damage to a company’s reputation.
The answer is to use the right cloud-based applications that can help employees do their jobs better, faster, smarter, and more collaboratively. The result: decreased company risk, as employees no longer must enlist outside sources to optimize job performance.
As an added bonus, when an organization gains enterprise-wide flexibility and the capacity to collaborate all across the business, it’s able to swiftly respond to a changing market and grow and expand the business to take advantage of the most impactful new opportunities—ideally, way before the competition.
Cloud has always been financially compelling, but in a world where daily increases to competitive advantage are going to be a necessity, there are fresh reasons to look at the technology and assess how it can make the difference.
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Phil Lewis, VP, Solution Consulting - Europe, Middle East, Africa and India, Infor (opens in new tab)