Growing and competing from the cloud
Cloud computing is no longer reserved for large companies or companies in the computer industry. What are the advantages of the cloud and why does access to it grow?
The economy increasingly crosses paths with technological changes. As discussed in the previous articles, changes in this area have a decisive impact on other areas: we witness the appearance of new ways to work and consume as well as new work schemes that have little resemblance to those of the classical industrial age.
In the midst of this phenomenal change of scenery, business leaders are faced with the challenge to innovate and to do so in the right direction. In this sense, beyond the obvious need for the best technology, the key of all corporate innovation today rests on the ability to take advantage of technological resources.
To innovate means to adapt and, dealing specifically with organizational models, to be able to develop and support flexible and profitable working arrangements. Along these lines, cloud computing in general and the concept of software as a service (SaaS) appear to be the best answer to those companies that, regardless of their size, need to take advantage of new digital tools.
The cloud: more than a tendency
First, it is important to note that the cloud – which is now on everyone’s lips – is much more than a fad or a passing trend. In practice, cloud computing for a company means transferring processes and costs of operating and managing its digital infrastructure to another company. This definition includes services ranging from complex data storage systems to videoconferencing.
Consequently, companies that choose to hire software as a service (especially, but not exclusively, in critical areas like customer service) have a quick access to a number of benefits: from immediate expected cost reductions to accessing tools that increase competitiveness. Let’s see:
- Less hardware, less costs: in choosing the cloud, you are free from the task of acquiring and periodically renewing the company’s hardware. This implies a double saving: when buying it and in costs indirectly generated by its exploitation (from occupying space to electricity consumption, etc.)
- Updated and “updatable” tools: technological tools are being updated at a faster speed. From this viewpoint, IT divisions gain increasing relevance, but not all companies – by category or size - can or want to support them. SaaS is based precisely on the idea that a client has to only concern himself with using the service. A concern to update then also disappears.
- Software on demand: migrating on the cloud also means using a tool that is adaptable to each company’s specific needs. An American fast food chain Papa Murphy´s with the network of 1255 stores has adopted a platform specifically designed to make reports on its suppliers and sales. The tool that replaced the use of spreadsheets and a massive flow of internal emails has marked a notable advance in terms of efficiency and turned out to be very practical to access by employees of all the company branches distributed in 37 states in the US.
- Remote access: in tune with the rapid growth of the mobile Internet, cloud-based services are almost indispensible. From this point of view, hiring software as a service guarantees that employees can access the information relevant to their work no matter where they are or what mobile device they have (tablets, smartphones, etc.)
Increased competitiveness: by replacing hardware for SaaS, small and medium companies can get an extra edge, which is increased competitiveness. From this point of view, the cloud enables them to access sophisticated tools on equal terms with large companies.
The cloud is no longer an enigmatic term, reserved for IT scholars. According to a recent official research “The network society 2011”, almost half of the Spanish SMEs (45.2%) are aware of the benefits of cloud computing, and they name among the most important ones cost reduction (63%) and saving time (71%).
These figures indicate that, far from being a fleeting trend, the cloud is on par with other personal changes of our time economy such as telecommuting, digital marketing and corporate management transparency as a paradigm. Like them, the cloud has already been showing its many virtues. However, it is likely that we are yet to discover its full potential.