How are your competitors using cloud computing?
Cloud Computing, Cloud Solutions, Cloud Services or just Cloud – it doesn’t matter the name you use to describe IT services in the cloud – the important thing to understand is that businesses of all shapes and sizes have been and are adopting cloud solutions to help drive business growth. As a business owner, how and if you choose to leverage the cloud requires careful consideration. Which cloud services will be the right fit for your business, providing the most bang for buck? How will you manage the migration to the cloud, and how will you choose the right IT partner to help realise this? Lots of questions. A useful exercise is to observe what your competitors are doing. Read on for five ways we see your competitors using cloud computing to power their success.
1. Your competitors are utilising Software as a Service (SaaS)
Firstly, lets get some jargon out of the way – what is SaaS? Software as a service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which a cloud provider hosts applications and makes them available to end users over the internet. In this model, an independent software vendor (ISV) may contract a third-party cloud provider to host the application. Or, with larger companies, such as Microsoft, the cloud provider might also be the software vendor. So how are others in your industry taking advantage of Software as a Service? By moving software costs away from an upfront capital expense and onto a flexible monthly operating expense, organisations are far better able to smooth cashflow and adjust their software costs as their business needs evolve. These businesses are also no longer at risk of being stuck on old, outdated versions of software purchased years ago, because with SaaS you will always have access to the latest version of software, including the latest innovations and features. SaaS applications are also far more likely to offer easy integration with other applications and services, presenting infinite opportunities to automate and streamline business processes.
2. Your competitors have data access anywhere, anytime, and on any device
One of the major advantages of the cloud is the ability to access your applications and data from anywhere, at anytime, using any device. Whether it be email, your accounting package, file sharing or any other business service, with cloud computing your staff will have the information that they need at their fingertips, no matter where they are. Smart businesses are locking in on this and using it to their advantage, reshaping the very way in which they operate. With staff no longer dependant on a central office, many businesses are now attracting and hiring the best staff, irrespective of where they live, as well as being able to offer staff a level of job flexibility previously unheard of, thus stimulating staff satisfaction and loyalty. Other businesses are enabling staff to do more. Consider, for example, a sales person that has access to everything they need on their tablet to take a client from browsing a catalogue, to customising the product, to digitally signing a purchase order and even processing payment, all while onsite at the client’s office.
3. Your competitors can collaborate in real-time
With cloud technology real-time collaboration has become the norm.
Numerous companies are now using cloud-based accounting systems such as Xero for their financial management. Being a cloud-based application, multiple staff can access the system simultaneously from any location, instantly seeing changes and updates from others. Many organisations are communicating through video chat on Microsoft Teams for example. This communication alone is revolutionising how businesses operate and communicate with staff and clients. Some organisations require big tenders to be answered which may require input from multiple people. They can all work on the tender at the same time in sync.
4. Your competitors are ahead of the game with Business Intelligence
As a business, we collect data every day. But most of this data largely lays dormant until we convert it into useful information. But business data becomes most powerful when it’s transformed into Business Intelligence and used to make healthier/educated decisions in the business. Cloud enables this to be much more achievable in less time. Power BI is one program that can connect to hundreds of data sources to help business owners visualise their business analytics and gain meaningful insights from their business data. Being part of the Microsoft suite, Power BI easily integrates with other Microsoft files, such as Excel, but can also connect to on-premises data sources and big data. Programs such as Power BI allow for reports to be generated in minutes. This allows for more informed decisions for the business. As one example, if an Accounting Practice discovers the majority of clients are aged between 30-40, then they can choose to focus on supplying more products/solutions to suit this age range. Or if they discover that most of their clients come from a particular region or industry, perhaps they can laser focus their targeted marketing. Having so many data sources available in the cloud and programs such as Power BI to create insights from that data makes Business Intelligence much more accessible. It is an incredibly powerful tool for your competitors, and they are using it to drive business growth.
5. Your competitors are in control of their Backup, Recovery and Business Continuity
As a business owner, you understand the true cost of an IT outage. It’s far more than just an annoying disruption – it’s real money lost every minute that your business is unable trade. You also understand that having complete and effective backup, recovery and business continuity measures in place for non-cloud systems, while essential, can be a complicated and expensive proposition. With your competitors actively migrating to the cloud their data and ability to operate are secure – irrespective of what may happen to their office or computing hardware. For those situations where systems have not yet been fully migrated, organisations are still leveraging the cloud in a powerful and cost-effective way to protect their data and uptime by backing up on-premise systems to the cloud, thus enabling rapid recovery minimising downtime. Cloud technology has changed the business landscape forever. Whether it be utilising SaaS, data access, real-time collaboration, business intelligence, or being in control of their system security, your competitors are leveraging cloud technology to build and grow.
The important question – are you taking advantage of cloud computing? Find out how we can help.
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