Cloud computing: The great equalizer


CLOUD COMPUTING has emerged as the 'great equalizer' in business, and is rapidly changing the way many companies operate.

With cloud computing, companies are now able to launch easy-to-use enterprise applications faster for their employees, resulting in a far more productive workplace.
Local companies are now adopting cloud-based, capex-free business solutions that enable them to be more flexible, cost efficient and globally competitive. It is a paradigm shift where money usually spent on maintaining expensive, in-house or on-premise hosted applications, turn into savings, sans the need to invest heavily on hardware, software licenses, or IT personnel dedicated to maintaining these systems.

With the cloud, companies are now able to quickly implement easy-to-use enterprise applications for internal use, resulting in a far more productive workplace because of employees’ ability to work anywhere on any device, and helping the company focus on its core business and generate revenue earlier than otherwise projected.

The Budget Equalizer

With minimal investment on equipment and licenses, taking operations to the cloud is perhaps the most ideal way to do business today. It’s truly a game changer like no other.

In the past, only large corporations with the resources and capital to invest in IT, were able to streamline internal processes and manage operations through costly IT systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), and database management. Small and medium enterprises or SMEs, on the other hand, had to make do with what their limited IT budgets can provide, to stay competitive in the market.

Not anymore. More SMEs are now getting the same capabilities as their larger, more established counterparts, thanks to the cloud. Today, we see numerous business applications available in the cloud including ERP, CRM, financial systems, unified communications, and proprietary applications.

Amid all value-added features that enterprise cloud apps offer however, it is the “capex-free” come-on that has proven to be the driving force behind the growing migration to the cloud. Because these business tools are paid on a per account, per year (or month) basis, companies are able to manage their funds better and take their products and services to market faster -- while enjoying the benefits of cloud computing for their day-to-day operations.

The Productivity Equalizer

Consider this. A global leader in consumer cosmetic products, now uses its own social app that rides on its cloud computing infrastructure, to enable its sales consultants to connect with clients, and each other, and receive company and product updates in real time, anytime, anywhere.

Productivity is enhanced by the accessibility of cloud-based applications. As long as there is Internet in the area, work gets done. Remote and traveling personnel can easily access and edit files and systems in real time from wherever they are located. Cloud applications not only cut companies’ software costs by more than half, but increases productivity through real-time collaboration amongst multiple users.

Cloud-based business applications range from workforce management and sales distribution to customer relationship management and even customized applications, all of which aim to improve workplace productivity, and help organizations achieve business success.

Projects involving hardware installations such as servers, are also ramped up faster in a cloud environment. Resources are easily scaled up or down depending on usage while changes are easily made without the need to buy additional hardware.

A very simple way that a company can get one foot in the cloud is by enhancing their office email experience with a secure web-based service, instead of using a terminal-based email client. This way, work email can be accessed practically anywhere, thus improving response times and overall productivity.

The Security Equalizer

In a recent article, a leading Spanish bank did an initial pilot test for 7,000 of its employees to use cloud-based email and productivity applications. Finding no significant issues, the rest of the bank’s 110,000 workforce now trust the Cloud even for sensitive financial data.

With any computing solution, whether cloud-based or not, security is always an important issue. And security is one of the reasons why many corporations are still hesitant to take on a cloud computing mindset.

The best cloud providers are those that implement multiple layers of security to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of such critical information. ISO 27001:2005 Information Security Management Systems is the global standard certification that ensures this. By being ISO 27001 certified, cloud providers assure customers of world-class security measures for their cloud services, giving them peace of mind for their business.

However, though cloud security lies much on the ability of service providers to ensure physical and network security as well as the resiliency of its data center environment, it also rests on the ability of customers to safeguard respective log-in credentials which most corporate IT platforms use to limit end-user access to sensitive data.

The Effectiveness Equalizer

Large companies stand to gain from the cloud’s shared resources as it allows them to have more flexible operations and healthier bottom lines. Though if large companies in established industries can make noteworthy strides under the cloud, there’s no reason why SMEs will not be able to enjoy the same progress with the same inexpensive, secure and productivity-enhancing infrastructure.

One of the Philippines’ leading low-cost airlines felt the need to migrate to a cloud-based email platform from their existing legacy email system to enhance accessibility, security, and overall employee productivity. As cloud email services are highly scalable, the company was able to manage the number of users and online storage allocation as it requires, and pay only for what is used. Such flexibility can only be experienced with cloud services.

That was just for email.

A leading transport and logistics company in the country currently uses the cloud for various facets of their business such as account management, marketing automation, database management, pipeline management, and business analytics and reporting. It is a great testament to how the cloud can be an essential component of any business, even those with existing ERPs.

The Philippine economy is poised to hugely benefit from local enterprises’ continuing adoption of cloud solutions, especially once the technology reaches its tipping point in our developing nation.

Herns A. Hermida is the Vice President for Consulting Services - Business Solutions Group of IP-Converge.