Changing weather: New reasons to move to cloud

Johannesburg, 08 Oct 2020
Read time 5min 00sec
Phil Lewis, Infor VP Solution Consulting, EMEA
Phil Lewis, Infor VP Solution Consulting, EMEA

Originally, cloud computing was promoted based on a simple, compelling proposition – moving capital expenditure into operating expenditure, and consequently, delivering financial and operational flexibility to businesses. This was – and is – no small benefit. However, as we transition through the COVID quagmire, businesses are realising that they need more than agility built into infrastructure to stay ahead in tomorrow’s uncertain (but no less competitive) environment. Resultantly, cloud-based enterprise software has had to evolve to enable quicker responses to opportunities and customer needs.

For organisations to survive, IT must be turned into a revenue-generating powerhouse. “The scope of IT is expanding beyond a role that helps keep the lights on, to one that finds a way to monetise the data from the lights and turn it into a product for customers. The CIOs of 2025 and beyond will need to shoulder more strategic responsibilities across a broader span of the business, finding ways to generate profits with new products and services,” confirms Phil Lewis, Infor VP Solution Consulting, EMEA.

Companies are asking more of their IT departments. When IT resources are solely focused on maintaining existing infrastructure and on-premises solutions, they become stuck in a defensive operational mode. Consequently, the team struggles to get ahead of the basics to support more strategic initiatives that can facilitate organisational change. “Cloud software partners will need to assume the duties of day-to-day software management while the customer CIO focuses his or her team’s time on value-added initiatives for the organisation,” says Lewis.

Cloud-based solutions empower an organisation to take risks, allowing companies to pursue new business opportunities without adding expensive infrastructure. It becomes possible to take advantage of new, innovative functionality more quickly and cost-effectively than was historically possible. “If an initiative succeeds, it can be scaled seamlessly to a wider audience. If it fails, the project can be shut down quickly. This level of flexibility enables companies to foster a culture that’s more conducive to implementing new, innovative ideas throughout the entire organisation,” he adds.

For many organisations, emerging markets and remote locations comprise the next great business frontier. Capitalising on those opportunities can be complex and expensive. Getting the technical skills and equipment in place to establish operations is a large undertaking, along with variables such as what skills will be available to support enterprise systems or what types of new regulations and reporting requirements will have to be met?

These quickly become an almost impenetrable barrier to global growth. According to Lewis, cloud-based solutions allow businesses to establish a new presence rapidly or expand existing operations in virtually any region without having to physically be there, which substantially minimises both capital investments and risk.

With remote offices operating seamlessly alongside other business units, cloud solutions make it easier to share information regardless of location. In addition, a robust cloud solution will likely have support for multiple languages and currencies, which makes localisation much easier to achieve.

Keeping aligned with continuous changes in software, security and regulations is complex, manual and expensive… but businesses must do their best to comply. “Put simply, the cloud excels at compliance. In a cloud-based SaaS world, security and compliance updates can be pushed out automatically to the entire organisation as soon as they’re available. This offers cost and risk benefits, especially for organisations operating across multiple countries with varying regulatory requirements.”

In any economy, downtime means lost revenue. Companies cannot afford to have critical applications offline. If a customer can’t do business with a company, the competition will be more than happy to take over. In a world that’s always “switched on”, keeping the proverbial lights burning around the clock is fast becoming a business imperative.

“Modern cloud computing solutions are available every day, 24 hours a day, no matter where employees are located or what devices they’re using. Cloud computing providers deploy equipment that is typically far more reliable than anything most companies would use for their own on-premises solutions, achieving system uptime levels that are difficult to match,” states Lewis.

Offering decreased risk and increased collaboration and productivity, employees powered by cloud solutions can do their jobs better, faster and more flexibly. In an ironic twist, workers are implementing their own cloud-based solutions to achieve the ease of use and functionality they need but aren’t getting from their own IT departments.

These applications aren’t necessarily “bad”, yet if used in the wrong way without the proper security infrastructure and protocols, they can expose businesses to unnecessary risk; theft of intellectual property, lost data, even damage to a company’s reputation. “The answer is to use the right cloud-based applications that can help employees do their jobs better, faster, smarter, and more collaboratively. The result: decreased company risk, as employees no longer enlist outside sources to optimise job performance.”

As an added bonus, when an organisation gains enterprise-wide flexibility and the capacity to collaborate all across the business, it’s able to respond to a changing market swiftly, growing and expanding the business to take advantage of the most impactful new opportunities… ideally before the competition.

“Cloud has always been financially compelling, but in a world where daily increases to competitive advantage are going to be a necessity, there are fresh reasons to look at the technology and assess how it can make the difference,” concludes Lewis. 

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