If you are still struggling to grasp what exactly the cloud is and why it will completely change your business, here’s a very simple, relatable explanation.
If you’ve ever experienced the panic that comes with being unable to access important business documents stored on your laptop – perhaps your PC was stolen or damaged – then you’re already halfway to understanding the importance of the cloud.
In truth, the concept of cloud is much easier to grasp than you might think. Instead of storing your programmes, documents and data on your computer’s hard drive, you’re storing them on the internet. That’s it.
It is estimated that cloud data centre traffic in the Middle East and Africa will grow 4.4-fold by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 34% from 2015 to 2020 (Source: Cisco’s Global Cloud Index). Looking at the benefits of the cloud, it’s easy to see why it has quickly become an invaluable tool for businesses, large or small.
The first advantage is that it is safer in the cloud.
While there was initially confusion around cloud safety, the reality is that your data is more secure when it’s stored in the cloud than it is, sitting on your hard drive. Think about the example of the missing laptop – if your company data is stored in the cloud, you can continue to access it, with or without that laptop, because you can access the internet from anywhere on any computer.
In terms of the security of the cloud itself, established service providers like Microsoft have a wealth of resources at their disposal to ensure their cloud platforms remain safe. They can spend more money than people, small or large companies, and sometimes even governments can. In fact, Microsoft invests more than a billion dollars each year on security-related research and development.
In addition to this, migrating to the cloud ensures all-round cost saving. Frost & Sullivan predicts that companies investing in collaboration technologies increased productivity by as much as 400 percent. To understand the positive impact cloud can have on business, let’s look at Royal Exchange’s recent migration to the cloud. Royal Exchange is a broad-based insurance provider registered on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. By adopting Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, the company was able to record a 75% increase in its retail platform revenue.
Because companies don’t have the expense of setting up an actual physical server to store data, operating in the cloud save costs. The best part is that you only pay for what you need. For example, Azure pricing is based on the service you use and storage you need, and is calculated as a per-hour fee.
Companies that have already made a significant investment in on-premises infrastructure can also choose to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy. This allows businesses to store some of their data and software on a shared public cloud infrastructure while still making use of their own existing servers.
There are also operational savings to be made, as in the example of Royal Exchange, where they were able to cut down on thousands of annual software payments, such as those non-Microsoft packages used for security and operations management.
Furthermore, the cloud allows businesses work smarter.
What is particularly powerful about a cloud platform like Microsoft is that it can think for you. Not only is it able to store your data and draw insights from that data, but it can also help you foresee future problems and find ways of addressing them before they even occur.
The very nature of cloud also enables greater operational efficiency. For example, if you have multiple people needing to work on the same document, it can be difficult to keep track of which version is the latest and who made which changes. With the cloud, all documents are saved centrally, enabling you to work smarter therefore ensuring that team members can collaborate from remote locations able to access, edit and share documents from anywhere.
Royal Exchange found this element of cloud capability to be a significant advantage. Through Office 365, they have been able to promote great information sharing and increased staff engagement, while cutting down on use of paper and supporting field agents with 24/7 availability.
Lastly, you are able to grow your business with ease.
Most businesses absorb the cost of computing resources, such as additional servers and software licences, which are on reserve in anticipation of future growth. However, cloud solutions are scalable – this means you can increase your resource capacity as and when you need it.
Adopting cloud provides a solid foundation from which companies can keep on modernising and optimising operations. There are many ways in which cloud can help your business. Taking the leap to transform your business can be scary but once you make the move, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.