By the end of this year, enterprises are expected to pass the 50 percent milestone for cloud adoption, meaning that half of businesses will be using at least one cloud application, platform, or service. But this prediction also means that by 2019, the other half will still be missing out on the tremendous benefits cloud computing can offer.
The cloud refers to software and network infrastructures that are hosted in remote data centers rather than on your business’s premises or devices, accessed via the internet. The slow rate of adoption means that many businesses have yet to realize the operational improvements and efficiencies that can come from the cloud.
Words from Ian Khan, technology futurist and author of Cloud Wars, stand out: “We still have a lot of catch-up to do. Enterprises are planning the future, but many are still living in the past.” But for growth-focused organizations, he says, “there’s no other option. The future is about the cloud.”
How can moving to the cloud benefit your business? By taking a page out of Khan’s book, we’ve identified four key benefits.
1. Access Data – Everywhere
It wasn’t that long ago that employment meant sitting at the same desk and working from the same desktop computer, day in, day out. Back then, installing software that could only be accessed from one location or using apps that were deployed on company intranets made sense.
But the workforce is changing fast: the number of Americans who work from home at least half the time has more than doubled since 2005, according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report, and as many as 70 percent of employers also offer flexible workplace options.
Meanwhile, certain roles such as sales and business development have long required a certain degree of mobility. The cloud better serves these remote workers because data can be accessed from any device via an internet or cellular connection via secure login.
Khan’s comments on the changing nature of work are fitting, “If you look at a fast-growing start-up or an enterprise, you typically will have employees that are distributed between different geographies, even within the same city or region. Generational needs, long commute times or the desire to have better work-life balance are also driving this change.” Khan raises the key question: “How do you create efficiency when people are in different places? When you move to the cloud, you’re creating a more collaborative environment where you can share resources between teams or remote employees that are not in one place.”
2. Preparing for the Worst
There are numerous reasons an outage can occur— weather-related power disruptions, accidental human error, cybercrime, to name just a few. But whatever the cause, when IT disasters occur, the speed with which your business can get back up and running can mitigate the costs.
By providing instant access to data and backups, the cloud can reduce the impact of an outage and improve the ease of restoring vital information. “With faster connectivity, it’s easier than ever before to upload and download backups to the cloud for disaster recovery,” says Khan.
Additionally, the geographical distribution of cloud datacenters may also reduce the risk of data loss as providers often factor the likelihood of natural disasters into the selection of their locations, and can offer enhanced on-premises protection to reduce environmental and human threats.
3. Improved Flexibility
Before the cloud, software had to be purchased on a per-license basis and installed onto each machine— a model that created bottlenecks and required purchases to be approached with the same stringent criteria applied to other major investments.
But in the cloud, software is deployed via the internet on a subscription basis, a model known as Software as a Service (SaaS). This new approach affords businesses a greater deal of flexibility, allowing them to trial new solutions or to quickly provision new users.
Some solutions offer free trials, allowing teams to try the features and interface for ease of use and suitability. “Enterprises can now take software for a test drive before they commit to it,” Khan says. “This is a great way to adopt new software. Put a pilot group together and put a testing plan together before you buy to see how it goes.”
4. Free up Your IT
More than a third of businesses devote 50 percent or more of their IT budgets on keeping the network lights on – tasks such as maintaining uptime, applying upgrades and bug fixes, and so on. Another 40 percent of enterprises spend between a quarter and half of their budgets on such maintenance.
Know what these technology experts aren’t spending this time on? Helping their companies to innovate. But shifting to the cloud can free up these important resources.
“A lot of work goes into managing the infrastructure,” says Khan. “That’s a huge drain on IT. They have to manage the hardware, they have to manage upgrades. Once you move that to the cloud, you preserve a lot of time, effort, and energy and your IT staff can focus on creating value rather than just maintaining infrastructure.”
From supporting key workplace shifts to mitigating risks and fostering flexibility and innovation, there are many business benefits to shifting to the cloud. As you consider moving business processes to the cloud this year, ask yourself if these are advantages your enterprise can afford to miss out on.