What is Cloud Computing

Can embracing the Cloud help improve productivity?

So how does this impact on productivity?

For most organisations, IT, telecoms and support services have gained in significance over the years and represent a larger portion of spend, issues and discussions. One of the benefits of Cloud computing is in resulting positive impact on this; by working with best of breed technology providers and paying monthly subscriptions to services on a usage basis, organisations can effectively outsource these issues. The results are an effective gain in terms of time, money and quality, three important measures of value. Take email as a basis example; are organisations better off buying a server, an enterprise email solution, deploying, managing and running it internally? Or is it more cost effective, less hassle and better quality (fewer outages or problems) to pay per user per month for an email service? What about other applications in the business? From accounts and sales, to production, distribution and support. What about the actual infrastructure itself?

Service providers are now able to offer Software as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service to businesses, essentially organisations can subscribe to technology elements / services ‘off-the-shelf’. The added advantages of doing this are fairly simple, by changing the focus from running and managing technology internally to unlocking its potential value, has a couple of major advantages;

  1. It allows an organisation to focus on whats important, the core aspect of the business and its customers
  2. More time and money to invest in the things that are important

Who’s for and against change?

Generally business owners, Directors, Managers and Board members are for these changes, due to the lower risk and potential improvements. Those who are against are generally those running the IT services and teams, mainly because these changes significant impact on the value they perceive they can add and they feel very threatened by it. We will add a separate paper that discusses how to measure risks and gain internal support and adoption for Cloud services.

Where has Cloud technology been deployed to improve productivity?

Examples of how technology has impacted businesses is all around us, we use it everyday often unaware and importantly, when we are users of it we don’t know if these services are in-house, self developed, outsourced or cloud services. The bigger the business the more likely its a combination of these, however what is clear is that more of more businesses large and small are putting services into the Cloud, from Telecoms, IT applications and systems, data storage and archiving, collaboration and even infrastructure.

Take Sainsbury’s for example; in 1869 it started as a corner grocery store and grew over time to become the one of the largest retailers in the UK. If you look at a comparable standalone high street grocery store today, you still don’t see much advance in technological terms from the first Sainsbury’s store. So what distinguishes Sainbury’s from the small high street retailer? Is it just a Retailer or is it a multifaceted IT business and logistics company combined? The technology in major retail chains powers the business so much that if it goes down, the business will often falter. Technology intrinsically links and streamlines the supply chain. The aims are simple; maximise productivity and revenue, reduce waste and overheads. In fact you can look at almost any vertical sector and see the impact that technology has; banking, manufacturing, retail, media even utilities.

Larger organisations such as Sainsburys can benefit from economies of scale, it is difficult for smaller entities to obtain the same level of technological advantage at a similar competitive price when buying inhouse systems, often smaller entities need to subcontract IT services to 3rd parties at a premium cost in terms of spend to generated turnover. The adoption of Cloud technology has changed this, allowing smaller organisations to deploy the same solutions as major business to gain the same advantages in productivity and bsuiness improvement; why? Well for several reasons:

  • The model is different; it’s generally a pay-per-user cost rather than buying licensing and annual support, this reduces set up costs.
  • Provides access to a large range of functionality and features at a fraction of the price of perpetual license
  • Lower overheads – service providers provision, run and maintain the systems on your behalf, so you don’t to emplay people or 3rd parties in the same way
  • Systems are continually improved and developed; upgrades and fault fixes are automatically applied.
  • Services are generally monitored in a high availability design by engineers 24X7X365
  • Traditional limitations are removed, such as needing to be in the office or on the network to access systems; you can access your ‘stuff’ anytine, anywher, from any device
  • Reduced risk of security, data loss, failure and outages. Your stuff is automatically backed-up and monitored for security threats such as viruses

So what conclusions can be reached, can embracing Cloud technologies improve productivity? The short answer is YES it can. Selecting the right technology, the right terms and for the right reasons, can enable businesses to obtain that critical edge to succeed. The challenge for most business is understanding the options available to them, the benefits and potential impact.