The world is abuzz about the cloud and the efficiencies it can bring to your business. Many companies, however, still have fragmented strategies with a mix between on-premise and cloud solutions, coupled with reservations as to what cloud adoption means, what it accurately entails and if it is the right way forward.
With the IDC forecasting that Internet of Things (IOT) spend in Africa will grow by 19,6% in 2017, there is a clear cloud computing adoption trend, highlighting that, in order for companies to be successful, they need to build a clear cloud strategy.
Cloud and big data allow systems to talk to each other, process massive amounts of data in a short period of time, and provide one holistic view of organisational processes and operations – a crucial necessity in the IT age as access to real time information allows for quick and accurate decision making.
With companies realising the importance of cloud adoption, more and more questions are being asked to alleviate concerns with common questions from SME’s addressed below:
What are the costs involved?
Cloud computing enables businesses to be scalable and flexible and, most importantly, to save costs and utilise an array of features that enable rapid growth and transformation. Traditional on-premise solutions require a large capital outlay, from purchase of servers to hardware and other infrastructure. While hosting options that do allow part of the functions to be outsourced are available, the costs are generally fixed and it is not easy to scale up and down as your requirements change.
The cost benefit of the cloud is that it allows users to set up a cloud system quickly without any upfront capex spend. Cloud solutions, such as Azure, allow users to scale the systems during peak times and completely shut down during non-usages times. Billing is, therefore, driven through consumption usage, which enables businesses to better control expenditure.
Cost saving also extends to integration between systems. Therefore, instead of spending large sums on integrating hosted systems, most cloud applications have API’s, basically a prebuilt integration layer, that makes integration a lot easier and cost effective. The IT department’s time is also spent on a longer-term view as opposed to a quarterly view, and is focused on the creation of efficiencies as opposed to ensuring the uptime of servers.
Lastly, a huge cost saving benefit is a reduction in the long-term costs of supporting an aging IT infrastructure.
Who is the cloud for?
If we look at all the disruptors in the market, consider what these organisation’s key success factors are? They have utilised technology to bring either value or an efficiency to the end consumer. As an example, Uber created an app that basically simplifies business processes for drivers and enables them to operate in an easy-to-use and efficient way.
With the rise of cloud technology, consumers have a lot of selection and easy access via the web, stressing the need for businesses to capture the attention of the consumer by streamlining the customer experience, creating value and delivering benefits. The shift in markets cannot be ignored by businesses, big or small. Massive companies, such as Nokia, have fallen as they were too late to shift and adopt to consumer trends and needs.
Moving to the cloud changes how businesses operate and deliver their services. If you plan and get your strategy right, you can transform your business to have easier access to clients in a more cost effective manner. In addition, you can achieve increased efficiencies within your business by accessing the thousands of business applications available in the market. Thankfully, when it comes to small-medium-enterprise apps they are reasonably priced and offer features and add-ons that are targeted towards business growth.
When it comes to IT, irrespective of whether it is cloud-based or not, security is always an essential part to cover. In any environment, failure to have the appropriate security protection could result in the loss of data or business. Traditional and cloud computing both have their potential security benefits and risks and businesses need to clearly understand these risks as part of their IT strategy plan.
Risks and areas that companies should consider:
- Adequate governance around all systems and applications
- Strong authentication
- Legal risk and compliance
- Failure Risk coupled with Disaster Recovery plans
- Incident management processes
- Application and data protection policies
All of these risks can be mitigated via:
- Effective governance, processes and policies
- System and process audits
- Network and application security
- Ensuring correct cloud security as part of your set up.
What should be outsourced to the cloud?
From your whole IT infrastructure, to your complete solution, to access to clients – what is core is having a clear and well defined IT plan and strategy that will guide you in making this decision. You need to decide what will work for your business to create your efficiencies. Moving all applications into the cloud just to be a cloud business may not make sense either.
As an example, you may decide that your finance system needs to remain on-premise as it is small and no one else accesses it, while your client-and-sales-management system moves to the cloud to ensure the security and efficiency of your data.
How will it enable business growth?
Companies face ever-increasing challenges such as globalisation, rapid changing consumer needs, and dynamic economic environments. Coupled with the quick changes in technology, the playing field is changing rapidly, highlighting the need for businesses to think differently and challenge the norm to ensure competitiveness.
The world is moving to a place where every business will be an IT company as the rate of change in the IT world is growing exponentially. Cloud is opening new opportunities and creating new ways to reach a wider consumer base, providing businesses with a platform to quickly operationalise their base and get to market quicker and more affordably.