5 crucial ways in which Cloud-based tools, infrastructure, and platforms can enhance your company’s performance – and its bottom line.
Much has already been written on the Cloud’s potential as an infrastructure – it’s scalable! Flexible! Budget-friendly, etc.! And while all of these are true, they miss one very important point:
The Cloud can help accelerate your business’ growth. And not just in technological ways.
In this article, we’ll consider how the Cloud can reduce expenses, streamline processes, and enable better workflows across obstacles that were previously almost impossible to overcome. As we do so, keep this in mind: less time and money spent on process means more time spent on what matters: sales, innovation, customer experience, and so on.
5 Ways the Cloud Supports Business Growth
1. Technical Infrastructure
First, let’s tackle the most obvious way that the Cloud can facilitate business growth: by improving the organization’s technical infrastructure.
Businesses rely on IT to support and expedite their business goals; imagine trying to manage a sales team while crunching your own data or keeping track of all the information in a CRM system manually. Additionally, technical scalability and agility can help businesses adjust to changes and adapt to trends.
However, all of this comes at a cost, and IT costs – hardware, software, and human capital – can be considerable. By streamlining certain tasks and offloading others, a Cloud-based (or even a hybrid Cloud) infrastructure improves the productivity of the IT team and allows them to focus on other tasks. It also enables businesses to quickly try out and then widely deploy new tools, as we’ll address later.
2. Communication, Data, and Workflows
Next, we’ll tackle the major use case for Cloud tools: supporting communication across departments and even geographies.
Cloud-based tools have definitely had a moment in the past 18 months, thanks to COVID-related work-from-home paradigms. Even before the pandemic, remote work was gaining traction across various industries; it’s safe to say that the Cloud has been a major driver of this shift. Compare working with multiple colleagues on Google Docs to trying to have multiple people work on the same document at the same time; even with everyone in the same office, the latter scenario was inefficient and frustrating.
Now, businesses use a variety of online tools to stay in contact, organize workflows, share information, and collaborate on projects. The beauty of the Cloud is that it keeps everything employees need easily accessible. Ideas can be shared and refined in real time, improving speed and response timelines drastically.
Storing and managing data in the Cloud is quite a different business area to communication and workflows, but it has a very similar set of benefits. Cloud data is more accessible; platforms and applications that live in the Cloud can rapidly share their data, making it available for analysis and insights. Thus, data analytics becomes faster and more scalable; if Cloud-based AI and ML tools are added to the mix (and they often are), data-based insights become readily available and very current.
Cloud-based infrastructure, storage, and tools are often much more cost-effective than their traditional counterparts. There are three main reasons for this:
- Efficiency: Planning an IT infrastructure entails understanding capacity and projected usage rates and building to an acceptable compromise between cost and performance/user experience. Because Cloud solutions add and remove capacity as companies reach certain levels – or, in some cases, as individual users are added – IT leaders can rely on a much more efficient and scalable architecture.
- Cost: Just as the usage scenario can be automatically adjusted to current needs, so can the costs. Many Cloud providers charge based on monthly actual usage, which means companies only pay for what they use.
- Simplicity: Obviously, the less hardware an IT team has to support, the less time they’ll spend maintaining it. Also, some Cloud service providers include support, maintenance, and even help desk resources as part of their offering.
Such advantages have made Cloud computing valuable across business types. Regarding the Google Cloud Platform, IDC has found that SMBs….“were able to achieve a 41% improvement in overall efficiency across IT teams … When drilling down on infrastructure costs, IDC calculated that SMBs spend 26% less over three years with Google Cloud Platform.”
4. Protection Against Data Loss
Information security is a minefield, both professionally and legally, and what constitutes acceptable levels of data security depends on the location and laws where your business operates. In this case, we’re focusing on data recovery and the avoidance of data loss.
We all know what happens if a machine fails without being properly backed up; its data is gone. This isn’t a chance you want to take with any of your business data. While storing data in the Cloud may seem less secure than having a physical copy, most Cloud providers use redundancy – storing the same data on different machines, often at different locations – to ensure that your data is always available and always recoverable.
5. Agility and Innovation
In the past year, we’ve witnessed that nimbleness and adaptability can be much more important to success than sheer size. All of the above features of Cloud computing have been proven to help small brands compete with major players and to help businesses of all sizes adjust to change, tighten their timeframes, and find ways for growth and forward movement.
Interestingly, McKinsey pointed out that 71 percent of tech leaders “pointed to agility in reacting to changing customer needs and faster time to market, while 88 percent of respondents cited revenue acceleration” as key business priorities.
The Cloud is making things possible that previously were only the domain of the very largest companies. But it’s also highlighting the importance of smart decisions: neglecting opportunities to innovate and expand can leave a company struggling to compete and its workers struggling to fulfil their roles.
However, more is needed than just leaping into Cloud-based platforms and tools. Leaders must ensure that their choices will support their business goals and work with their organizational culture. A careful rollout can mean better results, higher satisfaction, and greater acceptance.