Cloud technology made a loud splash in the world of business when it was first introduced. Basically, it refers to a centralized location on the World Wide Web that stores data and makes it available for access anywhere, anytime, from any device globally. Several organizations have moved their resources to the cloud because it offers a range of advantages, including:
Storing, managing, and accessing files virtually makes cloud technology an attractive option, even for small-to-midsize businesses.
The cloud can expand as your business needs grow, so you can invest as much or as little as you like as your operations scale or change.
By storing documents and data in the cloud, you can cut a significant amount of expenses in hardware costs.
Instead of buying high-end servers to keep your corporate data stored and updated, most apps in the cloud store work-in-progress plus completed tasks automatically. Also, you free up time that’d have been spent in updating the systems as cloud applications update themselves automatically.
When your employees can edit, access and share information from anywhere, they’re able to collaborate better and get more work done. Cloud-based file sharing applications and workflow allow individuals to view tasks in real time and give them complete visibility of their progress. Increased collaboration means faster project completion and increased agility.
Types of Cloud Technologies
Companies commonly use the following types of cloud technologies to offer services and store data: private, public and hybrid.
Private cloud technology:
Private cloud platforms are built and kept within clients’ own walls on their own software and hardware. Since the private cloud is managed and supervised by an organization’s own internal IT department, it is ideal for companies that want more flexibility, exclusive access and better control over their data. However, you’ll need to have your own data center to be able to use private cloud technologies, which makes it a costly option.
Public cloud technology:
Public cloud technologies refer to the cloud-based services built on external platforms and managed by an external cloud service vendor. All things are managed off-site, which means you’ll get your cloud inside a shared infrastructure. The vendor provides everything from the security of your cloud system to system resources. Because it is controlled by third-party specializing in offering cloud technology to a wide range of businesses, public cloud technology is ideal for firms that want the latest updates, cost-effectiveness and greater elasticity.
Hybrid cloud technology:
Hybrid cloud technology makes use of both public and private cloud technologies. In this cloud model, a company’s own IT department controls the in-house aspect of the cloud, and the rest is taken care of off-site. That makes a hybrid cloud ideal for organizations who want to manage enterprise-related information in-house but intends to store less sensitive resources with an external vendor.
Leveraging Cloud Technology for Your Company
Now that you’re aware of cloud technology’s many benefits and types, here’s how to start leveraging it for your business:
1. Start Using Cloud Storage
For organizations that care, companies like SpiderOak only store encrypted data. Because vendors like these don’t store private encryption keys, their personnel don’t have any way of gaining unauthorized access to stored data. Other companies like Mozy also provide the option to encrypt data using a local encryption key, though the service is available as a choice.
Companies should be wary of vendors that say they’ll encrypt all information but provide the capability to view and edit the same information through web browsers. That means that the vendor is keeping both decryption and encryption keys. Finally, it makes sense to keep at least one copy of archived information off the cloud, so that you have a backup in place in case the cloud goes offline.
2. Incorporate Chabot into Your Customer Service Operations
The expanded capability of cloud technologies and extended computing power enables business enables business owners to store data on customer preferences. Corporations can use that to offer customized products, messages and solutions based on the preferences and behavior of users. For example, companies can use the Facebook chatbot or Google Assistant – which are all natural-language bots hosted on the cloud.
These chatbots leverage the cloud’s computing capabilities to offer personalized context-relevant feedback. The next time a customer says, “Hey, can I know more about your product?” remember you’ll have a cloud-based AI solution to engage and retain them with relevant, contextual answers.
3. Leverage Cloud-Based Productivity & Business Management Applications
Office productivity apps such as Google Docs and Office 365 rely on cloud technology, enabling personnel to utilize their most productive tools on the web. People can work on their presentations, spreadsheets and documents – at any time, from anywhere.
And with the cloud storing all the progress, there’s no need to worry about files being corrupted or data getting lost, even if the device an individual is working from is damaged, lost or stolen. Also, cloud-based productivity applications enable users to collaborate on the same document, and at the same time.
Additionally, business management apps like software-as-a-service and CRM (customer relationship management) are also cloud-based. Popular offerings of this model include Marketo and Hubspot. The method is useful for both customers and vendor, as it scales according to the resources required by end users.
4. Consider Cloud-based Disaster Recovery
Conventionally, companies have cobbled together with a variety of software offerings to manage DR (disaster recovery), archival and corporate data backup as a part of a bigger practice, which has been not only costly but inefficient. Fortunately, the cloud provides more reliability for companies, higher efficiency for employees, and improved data security on an overall basis.
On top of these benefits, workflow consolidation can save businesses from one-third to one-half of their expenses. Also, disparate workflows can be moved into a centralized system to improve agility and efficiency. Case in point: Companies can take a server and put it in a virtual environment using the cloud (including OS, patches, etc.). It can then copy that and back things up offsite.
The best part? The virtual server won’t require hardware, so it would be convenient to transfer it to another center, without needing the user to reload every software. All that would minimize recovery time, especially when a comparison is made with non-virtualized options.
5. Host an Ecommerce Shop On the Cloud
If your business thrives by selling products and services to consumers, you can cut back on the costs associated with a brick and mortar outlet by opening a shop on the internet. That can be quickly done using cloud-based e-commerce software like Shopify. To get started, get access to the software’s tools like the business card maker, slogan generator, or profit margin calculators.
This is one cloud-based e-commerce applications that offer almost everything to help get you up and running. Besides that, Shopify connects with other cloud-based business applications, which allows users to further leverage all their business tools, data, and marketing strategies. Whether a user needs to link up their marketing with email, integrate QuickBooks or another accounting software, or expand their reach in marketplaces by selling on Amazon or eBay, there’s a feature for almost everything.
Where the software really stands out is its customizable, beautifully created themes that are easy to incorporate – something that makes Shopify a favorite of many. Business owners can choose from over 100+ templates that are neatly categorized by industry (electronics, home décor, etc.) and can be easily tweaked with the assistance of a graphic designer.
Other Things to Be Aware of:
Once you’ve decided that your organization will be taking the above mentioned measures, consider the following steps for a smoother transition:
Prioritize resources that first need to be moved:
Contrary to what you may have heard, migrating to the cloud is more than a lift and shift process. Migrating all applications to cloud-hosted server can backfire. Therefore, organization need to follow a tried and tested approach. A phased approach where you first test and deploy later can minimize negative impacts and create agility.
You could face a rebellion from members of the staff who find it difficult to adjust to the change. They should be educated about the fact that change is vital. Sessions can help them realize the company benefits. Regularly conduct development and training sessions on new technologies to minimize backlash and climb human barriers like fear, ego and politics.
Revamp security layers:
Cloud-based security endpoints can open new gateways for cyber-attacks. It is therefore important to assess the implementations with your IT team to ensure no loopholes are created. Another option would be to work with external vendors who specialize in assessing cloud applications to see if there are any new threat vectors opening up with those deployments.
Ready to Take the Leap?
The right mindset and transition strategy can help your company realize the benefits of cloud technologies to their maximum advantage. Considering the types of advantages, it offers, migrating to a cloud-enabled business model would be a smart decision for any new corporation.