Over the last 2 decades, no technology has had more of an impact on workplace IT than the Cloud. From small-scale data storage to the infrastructure that hosts large-scale corporate networks, cloud computing services offer versatile, scalable resources that can be adapted to the needs of large and small businesses alike.
As you read this, it’s likely your business utilises cloud computing to some degree. From storage services like Dropbox and workplace productivity suites like Microsoft 365, to hosting solutions for websites or databases, the cloud has helped many businesses remain competitive and agile over the last decade. Today, it’s estimated that around 94% of companies leverage cloud computing services in one form or another.
Despite the clamour to embrace the cloud in recent years, many businesses remain cautious about exploring further uses for cloud computing in their operations. This can often be attributed to misconception about the cloud, such as unfounded fears that it affords less privacy and control than on-premise hosting solutions. However, with careful configuration, and strategic guidance from a committed IT support provider, cloud computing can be a powerful force for business growth, delivering the flexible, cost-efficient and remote-ready solutions businesses need to stay competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.
Here are 4 ways Cloud computing can be harnessed to create value and drive growth in your business.
Empower Effective Collaboration
The access-anywhere nature of the cloud makes it an ideal fit for businesses looking to unite remote workforces. We saw this during the covid pandemic, which at its peak, saw almost half the UK workforce working remotely. Communication Platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom became household names, as smaller companies in particular chose cloud applications as the default tools for remote workforces.
While many of us have returned to the office, remote access solutions remain an integral feature of business IT, giving employees a degree of flexibility in their work schedules by retaining working-from-home as a viable option. While technologies like remote access VPNs and SD-WAN provide an option for secure remote access to business resources, cloud-hosting and cloud-based applications remain one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to facilitate effective collaboration.
One solution that has arguably revolutionised workplace collaboration more than any other, is the world’s pre-eminent workplace productivity suite: Microsoft 365. Providing scalable file storage, a class-leading virtual meeting platform, customisable collaboration spaces, powerful task management features, plus several options for implementing workflow automation, Microsoft 365 delivers the tools and capabilities businesses need to empower focussed and efficient collaboration, both remotely and in the office.
Live document collaboration allows multiple Microsoft 365 users to collaborate on the same document in real-time, with revisions made immediately saved to the cloud. Plus, hundreds of third-party integrations allows businesses to customise their Microsoft 365 environment with the tools they’re already using, with support for the likes of Saleforce, Asana, Hubspot and Trello.
Streamline Workflows with BPA and AI
In 2022, the global cloud computing market was valued at $569.31 billion. By 2030, that figure is expected to hit $2.432 trillion. These forecasts illustrate the growth in cloud computing that’s still to come, as businesses both big and small expand their cloud footprint even further. As the cloud continues to grow, tech companies will shift their focus even further into the domain of cloud computing. This could leave businesses without a cloud presence unable to access the latest innovations, and the disruptive technologies that are likely to transform how we live and work over the coming years and decades.
Examples include technologies like AI and Machine learning, which have already made waves in the business technology space, with applications ranging from chatbots and data analysis to predictive security tools and sales forecasting.
Business process automation (BPA) represents another unexplored frontier for many businesses, with the cloud providing the easiest route-of-entry to this efficiency-boosting technology. From cloud-based accounting software that can automate expense management, invoice filing and financial reporting, to human resources management systems that deliver automation for payroll, employee onboarding and performance management, cloud-hosted software provides countless opportunities to introduce automation to your business’s workflows.
The cloud even provides options for introducing simple, no-code automations to rule-based repetitive tasks like data entry, data validation and form filling. Robotic process automation (RPA) platforms allow organisations to integrate applications that would otherwise require manual data transfer, thus giving staff more time to focus on activities that provide strategic business benefits.
In summary, by enabling seamless cross platform integration, and delivering the innovative tools businesses need to streamline time-consuming processes, the cloud is a compelling IT ecosystem for businesses that are keen to achieve efficiency-powered growth. Migrating to the cloud now will also ensure you’re able to exploit emerging technologies, helping you remain productive and competitive in an age of fast-paced technological change.
Enjoy Enhanced Security
In the past, the notion of the cloud being inherently less secure than on-premise hosting was a myth in widespread circulation. Today, many businesses are realising that this simply isn’t the case, with as many as 94% reporting security improvements following cloud adoption.
Thanks to cyber security budgets amounting to billions of dollars, and data centres that feature advanced, enterprise-grade protections to defend against both cyber and physical threats, leading cloud services are safeguarded by defences most SMEs would struggle to establish in-house.
Microsoft Azure provides a good example of the types of protections applied to the data centres of large cloud service providers. Some of the key cyber security protections and measures incorporated in Azure’s data centres include:
- Encryption, applied to data both in transit and at rest.
- Firewalls and Network Security that features protective measures against fast-moving DDoS attacks.
- Threat Intelligence and Monitoring Center, featuring 3500 dedicated cyber security experts.
- Robust Physical Protections to safeguard the integrity of data centre sites, including 24/7 surveillance, biometric authentication and a continuous security presence.
Furthermore, many cloud platforms feature inbuilt security features that users can configure to further improve their security posture and safeguard sensitive data. Microsoft’s 365 data loss prevention features and advanced authentication protocols provide a good case in point, empowering users to take action to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information in accordance with the stipulations of regulations such as the GDPR.
Other security controls and capabilities on offer include encryption, automated security updates and real-time threat detection and response that’s capable of providing network-wide identification and live threat neutralisation.
While cyber security may not seem instinctively related to business growth, it’s important to remember how damaging and potentially ruinous cyber breach events can be for small businesses, with as many as 60% of small businesses ceasing to trade following a data breach or cyber-attack. By embracing the cloud therefore, you help to protect the long-term success and viability of your business, by hosting your critical services and data in an environment equipped with some of the best security technologies around.
Reduce IT Spending
Growing businesses need fiscal headroom, and one of the ways to achieve this is by reducing operational expenditure.
The cloud allows businesses to run resource-efficient, cost-effective IT infrastructure thanks to flexible pricing mechanisms that are responsive to changing business demands. Pay-as-you-go, pay-per-user, reserved instances, and spot instances are just some of the pricing models used by cloud service providers, which give businesses the ability to scale-up and down according to fluctuating needs, and avoid the resource overprovisioning that’s so common in on-premise hosting setups.
Cloud-hosting provides a cost-effective alternative to housing databases, applications, email servers and other critical IT services in-house, and avoids the substantial capital expenditures that tend to accompany network and server infrastructure upgrades. Thanks to the flexible pricing models we’ve just mentioned, businesses can provision networking resources, storage, virtual machines, compute power and more without having to purchase deploy and manage the host infrastructure, thus avoiding maintenance and hardware lifecycle expenses.
Traditional IT projects can be a costly undertaking, with equipment acquisition, consultancy and installation costs capable of driving capital expenditure so high that many small businesses defer making vital infrastructure upgrades. By converting these capital expenses into manageable operational expenditure, the cloud makes it easy for resource-constrained businesses to run cutting-edge, growth-enabling IT infrastructure.
With a wealth of deployment options, SME-friendly pricing, and platforms that put efficiency-saving technologies within the reach of small businesses, the cloud provides endless opportunities for organisations keen on using technology as a catalyst for growth. Start a conversation with your IT support provide on ways to leverage the cloud to grow your business in the years ahead.
4TC Managed IT Services – Uniting People, Processes and Technology
Secure, stable and optimised IT infrastructure is critical to the success of all businesses in our information age. 4TC helps businesses across London and the Southeast realise their potential through the delivery of expertly managed IT services and support, and solutions that solve business challenges by achieving perfect alignment between people, processes and technology. Get assistance with your IT challenges today by getting in touch, we’ll be glad to assist you!