Companies continue to see core benefits of moving content, applications, and infrastructure to the cloud. These include increased mobility that allows people to share or manage information from any internet connection, so they can work remotely, and companies can remove geographic barriers. Customer service operations can move to a home-based model where agents access info through the cloud, instead of a company paying for a dedicated call center. The cloud also provides data redundancy and continuity. A local disaster will be less impactful to a business if its core data and services are in the cloud instead of on-premises servers. The cloud also pushes firms to standardize and streamline other connected processes, making their entire operations more dynamic and flexible.
The cloud is also big business, with the cloud services market generating as much as $236 billion in revenue by 2020, according to a study by Forrester Research. And CFOs are taking notice, with a 2017 BDO Technology Outlook Survey noting 74% of CFOs reporting cloud computing will be the technology advancement that will prove to be most impactful on their business in 2017, followed by IoT, AI, and 3D printing.
Management of Sensitive Data and Infrastructure
In a clear move of support for the cloud, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) has recently decided to move some of its data and infrastructure to AWS cloud services. Its decision to use Amazon’s proven cloud infrastructure should function as a test case for other sectors such as energy where the stakes are very high for protecting computer-driven data and processes. The research firm Wikibon predicts that by 2022 AMS will reach $43 billion in revenue, and account for fully 8.2% of all cloud spending, a massive percentage for just one firm, and one that’s expected to increase over time.
Looking further at the utility and energy sector as an example of cloud growth, these firms will need to review the benefits of the cloud versus any potential security risks, and will likely ease into cloud adoption over the coming years. They will especially look at single-tenant private cloud configurations which provide the optimal levels of security by ensuring data is not intermixed with other cloud provider clients.
The cloud can provide utilities and energy providers with multiple benefits including:
- The ability to improve super computing capabilities that are needed for complex energy production and management modeling.
- Make operations more agile so utilities can lower costs to combat increasing competition and manage regulations.
- Develop cloud-based customer interaction platforms that provide for example updates on outages or other problems, allow simple bill pay, and easy access to customer support.
- Power the transition to renewable energy and harness the analytics capabilities of smart meters and the smart grid.
The cloud’s usage is also growing in the pharmaceutical (life sciences) sector, another industry vertical that is under a considerable amount of regulatory restrictions. The benefits of the cloud for pharma include:
- Enhanced study controls where the clinical trials manager can better track and organize trial data that’s centrally available through the cloud.
- Real-time data availability means pharma managers can make decisions quickly in regards to unforeseen quality control issues or problems with adverse effects.
- Trials for a pharma company can costs tens of millions of dollars, so if the firm can offload infrastructure costs to the cloud and save time (and corresponding money), then the cloud can cut into the typical trial costs.
Within the manufacturing sector, the cloud is also poised for growth and adoption across multiple parts of the manufacturing business. Manufacturers must operate in a global economy and competition, so they need to look for solutions such as cloud infrastructure that will help them maintain a competitive edge and secure profits. Manufacturers are moving their ERP solutions to the cloud in order to improve the entire supply chain. The new cloud-based versions do not have the drawbacks of legacy systems such as outdated hardware, limited connectivity with other systems, and operating costs which made the solutions infeasible for smaller firms.
Armed with immediate and improved data through the cloud, manufacturers can ramp up their production pace if needed, and adjust their processes based on changing market conditions. Manufacturers desperately need to become more agile, and cloud services are allowing them to improve their speed and accuracy, which in turn helps them to stay profitable.
Finding ROI in the Clouds
The growth of the cloud across multiple sectors and applications is driven by the promise of actual ROI. There’s multiple “soft benefits” of the cloud which should be mixed into the ROI equation. These include:
- The ability to accelerate decision making, where companies can start new services or apps in very short timeframes. With the cloud it’s also possible for firms to provision immediately by scaling demand based on activity. They no longer need to wait for IT to source and implement more physical servers.
- Private clouds can also help firms stay within stringent compliance requirements by removing the risks of multi-tenancy. The security testing and auditing performed by cloud providers also ensures compliance and improves visibility.
- And on the people side, the ROI of the cloud should include a review of employee satisfaction metrics. Did moving the customer service functions to the cloud and allowing all agents to work from home then result in improved employee happiness and retention? Do sales agents on the road appreciate the cloud-based access to collateral and financials that they can pull from their device?
The movement of data and both internal and external-facing services to the cloud is happening at a heightened pace, as companies become more comfortable with the cloud and its security. According to Deloitte Global, the spend on IT-as-a-Service for data centers, software and services will be $547B by the end of 2018, and that type of investment will represent fully half of all IT spending by 2021/2022. Such statistics highlight the broad movement to cloud infrastructures and the pressing need for IT firms to develop on-demand cloud-based tools.
Planning the Transition
TechBlocks’ consultants understand that “moving to the cloud” is a daunting and confusing exercise for many managers. They can provide you with a cloud migration roadmap that starts with identifying the areas of the business that need improvement, and then making the financial and productivity case for using the cloud to fix the problem. Consultants have the outsider’s view of a company’s current situation, and can be an objective voice on the best uses of the cloud for the client, and can detail how the cloud will impact internal staff and the end customer.
Once the cloud-ready targets are identified, the consultants and IT can work together to pick the right deployment models, such as hybrid clouds that allow companies to store sensitive data in house will using the cloud for increased agility. Deployment decisions will be guided by the type of business activity involved, the related costs, and regulatory constraints. Firms will also need to understand which type of cloud service they need, whether it’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) where apps run through the cloud, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that offers a cloud production platform, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) that enables virtual data centers and removes any data silos.
Visit www.tblocks.com to learn more about moving critical components of your business to the cloud for enhanced productivity, accessibility, and profits.