Having become the backbone of organisations as they become digital-first businesses, cloud technologies must enable companies to operate and evolve effectively while navigating their new business landscape with confidence and caution, writes Navinder Singh, General Manager at In2IT.Cloud infrastructure and technologies can prove instrumental in assisting South African businesses by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and serverless computing to accelerate change and allow companies to get to the point of growth and innovation faster. However, this doesn’t just happen on its own. A clear cloud strategy is necessary to guide the journey to avoid obstacles and pitfalls that can slow or stall transformation. The right IT service provider partner will ensure that digital transformation progresses smoothly by identifying which cloud technologies are best suited to match business requirements.

Cloud opportunities and concerns

Over the years, cloud technology has become pervasive, offering exciting prospects for everyone everywhere. The rewards of adopting cloud are exponential, with the biggest benefit being cost control in terms of capital (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX). This reduces upfront expenses, as services are available on-demand on a pay-per-use pricing model. As a result, such resources and capital can be channelled instead into exploring new revenue opportunities aligned with the core business.

Today, thanks to increased security, flexibility, and scalability, cloud services are rapidly taking over the world, but for more than a decade the biggest challenge in cloud technologies adoption was comprehending security threats. IT entrepreneurs were extremely concerned about losing control over their mission-critical data and essential applications after being moved to the cloud. To avoid such a situation, it is important to make smart and strategic investments in cloud services to cover security gaps and minimise risks. To achieve seamless operations, cloud services need to be configured effectively and efficiently, with careful consideration being given to architecture design and security hygiene.

Levelling the playing field

Cloud technology has given businesses the tools to achieve the previously impossible. Now, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can make an entry into markets previously monopolised by larger, incumbent organisations. As most services have become on-demand and need-based, this has levelled the playing field to give businesses of all sizes the competitive advantage that allows them to compete in a much larger market space. Additional advantages include a reduction in operational costs, while enabling greater mobility and scalability.

Digital transformation is the deliberate strategic repositioning of business in the digital world. It requires a fair amount of strategic planning and understanding of business capabilities in relation to emerging technology. There are numerous essential ingredients for digital transformation, such as IoT devices, machine learning and big data analytics. Although these demand heavy compute power and will need extra vigilance in terms of data security, cloud digital transformation has done away with the need to purchase and maintain physical equipment or to procure a facility.

Reaching new heights

As a result, the cloud provides an opportunity for even the smallest businesses to expand, grow and reach new heights. Cloud platforms offer a robust infrastructure upon which businesses can deliver their own cloud-based service offerings, for instance: Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The cloud brings significant advantages in terms of making the deployment of applications faster while facilitating better access to data, deeper implementation of analytics to enhance the efficiency of operations, all of which help organisations to build speed into their offering. Improved data analytics means faster data that is more accurate, which helps businesses to meet reporting requirements and deliver key actionable insights to decision-makers.

Today, applications are becoming more distributed, environments are becoming more dynamic and customer expectations are becoming less forgiving. There is an increased demand for perfection. As such, the manner in which businesses approach their forecasting procedure is key to unlocking true efficiency. Cloud technology like automation and ML learning can reduce manual processes to accelerate the forecasting process and provide more accurate results.

Everything as a service

Cloud service technologies have signalled the end of a product-based economy for the IT industry, heralding the age of a service-based economy. Cloud will help to re-evaluate and redesign business models according to the needs in a manner that targets the most cost-effective solution.

It is a significant enabler of the modern digital business world, enabling companies to innovate, operate and run business faster and more efficiently. As such, businesses need to bear in mind that the success of transformation is most achievable when it is incremental, cost-effective, and sustainable.

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