Cloud computing: Why the cloud is integral to business future proofing

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Cloud computing: Why the cloud is integral to business future proofing.

By Matthew Margetts, Director at Smarter Technologies.

The past few years have been an obstacle course of challenges for businesses. If these years have taught us anything it is the value of technology to innovation, resilience, performance, and simple business continuity.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an acceleration of digital transformation in the business world. Against this backdrop, the move to cloud computing is an important step in the natural evolution of businesses. In achieving this progression, businesses are exploring end-to-end digital transformation solutions, with cloud as a driver for change, ongoing business relevance, and competitiveness.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is shaping the future through big data. Businesses are leveraging data insights on internal processes, supply chains, and their interactions with customers. With data processing powered by the cloud, the future of cloud computing is closely tied to the development of these smart solutions.

In navigating the future, businesses of tomorrow will forge partnerships and innovate around technology today to make meaningful progress towards digital transformation - and cloud computing will be central to forming digital strategies into the future.

WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?

In its simplest form, cloud computing digitises everyday processes and operations using the internet - incorporating services such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Cloud computing utilises internet-powered and remote (rather than local) servers for on-demand computing services for users on a network. This includes how data is collected, stored, managed, analysed, and reported on. The demands of data and requirements around online access make in-house IT processes exceptionally challenging for businesses.

Combined with modern digital advancements such as IoT, smart technologies, and AI, cloud computing is rapidly becoming the yardstick by which all businesses approach operations and strategy.

Outlay and Expense

Imagine the cost of hardware, software, and the servers required to run big data centres. With cloud computing, you only pay for what you use. Cost-effectiveness is one of the most prominent advantages of cloud computing as it provides the benefits of digitisation without over-capitalising on infrastructure.

Many additional benefits stem from this. This includes the rapid elasticity to adapt to scale using this model of IT resources without the need for ongoing infrastructure investment. The accessibility of cloud computing services to even small and medium businesses - with scope for scale - makes cloud computing a powerful tool for enterprises that aspire to growth.

There are also remarkable benefits around energy efficiency and savings on energy outlays associated with in-house data centres.

Real-Time Insights and Flexibility

Remote accessibility to an organisation’s data in real time translates into flexibility and agility. The past few years have underscored the need for adaptability in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world.

Cloud computing and smart technologies empower businesses through responsiveness in the short, medium, and long term. Cloud computing solutions allow for technology and digital processes to be adapted to changing needs - and tested and deployed with minimal risk and cost.

By its very nature, cloud computing is also tailored to the unique layout and aims of an individual organisation - with public, private, hybrid, and multi-clouds offering different pros and cons that need to be assessed on a per case basis.

Security

The adoption of cloud-based processes makes security standards more important than ever. Working with cloud providers offers enhanced, robust security benefits. A zero-trust security strategy - such as that provided by Smarter Technologies’ Orion, The Real-Time Data Network - mitigates risk and supports cloud security efforts.

The maintenance of security protocols by providers makes this an attractive option for business owners.

Productivity, Collaboration, and the Modern Workplace

The nature of the workplace and how teams collaborate have changed in recent years. Remote and hybrid work environments have encouraged employees to innovate around how they work. Cloud computing allows for increased collaboration - with remote, instant access to data and tools. This supports collaboration and boosts productivity by providing employees with the resources to best perform their tasks no matter where they are.

The Power Of Big Data

The collection, analysis, and sharing of data holds immense advantages for organisations of all sizes. Some of these advantages include:

  • Operational Optimisation, Management, and Strategy. Collecting and analysing detailed data across whole operations, business owners are empowered to more effectively monitor, manage, and strategise for optimal performance and processes.
  • Improved Customer Experience and Scope for AI and Automation. Digital mapping and insights around consumer behaviour allow for more personalised and tailored customer experiences. Streamlined supply chains mean improved deliverability and cloud processes make for simplified, seamless self-service capabilities.
  • Positive Environmental Impact. Data insights on resource usage underlies resource conservation. By identifying areas of wastage and truly understanding consumption patterns, businesses can make changes that save energy and precious natural resources and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Compliance and Disaster Management. The collection and cloud storage of preset datasets makes for simplified compliance processes and reporting. It also helps business owners and managers to react to issues and, in some cases, even circumvent issues in the first place.

Cloud computing provides significant benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness, real-time insights, flexibility, security, productivity, collaboration, and big data processing. With the accelerated digital transformation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of cloud computing has become a critical driver for change, ongoing business relevance, and competitiveness. In navigating the future, businesses will need to innovate around technology to make meaningful progress towards digital transformation, and cloud computing will be central to forming competitive digital strategies.

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