Companies of all sizes and types are looking to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and overcome its unprecedented challenges.
It’s widely known that most organizations had to accelerate their digital transformations due to the pandemic. Consider the millions of employees worldwide who transitioned from an in-office position to a fully remote role in just a few months. It’s fair to say that the shift to working from home would not have occurred without the widespread adoption of the latest technologies.
One technology that is now indispensable in business is cloud computing. It may sound like an intimidating, tech-savvy term, but it’s quite simple to understand. It’s also more than just a buzzword — it can give companies the power to outperform their competitors and become industry leaders.
Take a deep dive into the world of cloud computing for businesses. Learn about the cloud and how it helps companies stay ahead of the competition. Here’s how to adopt and implement this technology.
Understanding the Cloud
What are professionals referring to when they say “the cloud?” It relates to the internet, but operating in the cloud describes how companies store, manage and access data using an internet connection.
Important business services are delivered through the cloud. Using it allows businesses to avoid hosting and managing their hardware and software.
Companies that use the cloud can access essential data from anywhere, as long as they are connected to the internet. Most pay for these services per-use basis, allowing them to use their resources strategically.
Many organizations use three popular categories of cloud services:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Salesforce’s Lightning Platform
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Microsoft 365 productivity and email services
Additionally, there are multiple types of cloud deployment models companies use for their environments, including:
- Private cloud
- Public cloud
- Hybrid cloud
- Community cloud
Many successful companies use cloud services and experienced rapid growth as a result. Netflix, General Electric (GE), eBay, Kroger, Pinterest, Apple, and Fitbit are some well-known examples. Still, cloud services are also highly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Benefits of Cloud Technology
Cloud computing has been considered one of the most valuable innovations in the business world in the past decade. About 40% of North American companies plan to spend most of their new or additional funding on the cloud.
Adopting cloud technology offers companies numerous benefits, including:
- Reduced costs
- Increased productivity and collaboration
- Stronger, more resilient cybersecurity
- Improved customer service
- Effective data sharing
Another important benefit is that cloud adoption enables businesses to explore more cost-effective digital IT solutions.
Companies must implement short-term cost reduction strategies in light of inflation and the looming threat of a recession. Organizations can leverage affordable cloud services, which have a real cash impact on profit as opposed to amortization or depreciation.
How the Cloud Gives Businesses a Competitive Advantage
These benefits create a viable business case for companies to justify adopting the cloud. However, there are also a handful of competitive advantages that companies will also notice.
1. Drives Innovation
Leveraging cloud computing technology enables companies to grow more innovative in their product and service offerings. It’s commonly understood that the companies that spend the most time fine-tuning their products and services to meet ever-changing customer demands will outperform their competitors. IT employees create business value using the cloud, such as creating new enterprise software or applications.
2. Prevents IT Downtime
A cybersecurity attack can cause companies to experience extended downtime, hampering employee productivity and lessening overall efficiency. Sectors that work with sensitive data, like education, government, and health care, must prioritize cybersecurity because they are often major targets for cybercriminals trying to access that sensitive data.
Cloud providers often perform consistent security updates, use artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and auto-patching, install built-in firewalls and engage in third-party security testing. However, companies must utilize additional cybersecurity strategies to bolster their posture in the increasingly threatening digital environment.
These security measures protect companies from cyber incidents, preventing downtime and maintaining operational efficiencies. A company using legacy systems that experiences a cyberattack could suffer from extended downtime, a major disadvantage.
3. Improves Flexibility, Agility, and Adaptability
Flexibility, agility, and adaptability are three core aspects of business that are needed now more than ever. Companies that lacked these three qualities likely shut down temporarily or permanently due to the pandemic.
Businesses that are flexible, agile, and adaptable can operate successfully under strenuous conditions, such as those brought on by the pandemic. The cloud allows organizations to build a remote workforce, keep up with state and federal mandates, and make informed decisions, all competitive advantages.
4. Engages Employees Through Collaboration
Engaged employees are hard to come by nowadays, but they are the foundation of business success. How would any company succeed without a dedicated, loyal, and engaged workforce? Fortunately, most cloud services are collaborative.
Take Google Workspace, for example — employees can collaborate on projects, share spreadsheets, add notes to documents in real-time and use Google Meet, the widely used videoconferencing tool. Collaboration is key to success, and the cloud helps facilitate it.
Common Pain Points of Cloud Adoption in Business
Many companies are adopting the cloud if they haven’t already. However, implementing any new technology can present various challenges to the average business.
Here are some of the common pain points associated with cloud adoption in business, according to a 2021 report from Accenture:
- The complexity of changes to operational and business processes
- Risks with cybersecurity and meeting compliance requirements
- Challenges aligning IT and business goals
- The transition from a legacy infrastructure
Using the cloud in business might be challenging. Still, it’s a worthwhile, long-term investment — ask the growing number of companies planning on or already leveraging its power.
Tips for Adopting and Implementing the Cloud Successfully
There is no ideal solution for each challenge that occurs during the migration to cloud technology. However, there are some best practices, and tips businesses can use to prevent these issues in the first place or rectify them if they do emerge.
1. Identify Business Goals and Desired Outcomes
Businesses should adopt a cloud strategy aligned with their goals and desired outcomes, which can help make cloud adoption and implementation success.
Once the cloud implementation begins, it might be challenging to determine if the company is on track to meet its objectives. However, identifying goals as a first step is helpful because it prevents companies from overextending their resources and meeting unrealistic expectations.
2. Select Vendors and Cloud Service Providers
Many vendors and cloud providers are in the industry, making it challenging for company leaders to take charge of the implementation process.
Which vendor best suits the company’s goals? What services can the business afford? Finding the answers to these questions and others will help guide leaders, allowing them to decide which providers are the best choices.
3. Learn Cloud Economics
Not every employee within a company is an IT expert. Some decision-makers will have to research to learn the inner workings of cloud economics.
How much should companies be paying for cloud adoption? What’s the standard ROI? Business leaders who lack this knowledge could overspend on solutions or fail to invest in quality ones. Consider learning about cloud economics before starting cloud implementation.
4. Consult a Third Party
Working with a third-party IT consulting company can help businesses make better decisions, allowing them to reap the most benefits from cloud computing and gaining advantages.
Company leaders should be willing to work with IT experts or professionals specializing in cloud technologies to ensure a smooth transition. It’s OK for executives or employees to admit that forming a strategy and using the technology is complex, especially if they lack an IT background.
Leverage the Cloud to Gain Competitive Advantages
Businesses in virtually every industry often consider which technologies would offer the most return on investment (ROI), new market opportunities, improved operations, a reliable IT infrastructure, and a competitive advantage in their industries.
It’s no walk in the park to keep up with the latest technology trends in business. Still, each one offers an opportunity for businesses to grow more competitive. The cloud is already widely used, but it’s also evolving. Every business should consider using it to remain competitive in their industry.