By: Maricelle Boshoff, Operations Manager at HansaWorld South Africa

The City of Cape Town’s decision to introduce flexible hours to combat heavy traffic has cast a spotlight on existing business inefficiencies, and highlighted the need for local enterprises to find alternative logistical solutions in the cloud.

Thanks to legacy hardware, poor Internet infrastructure and a resilient populace familiar with the 9-5 concept and centralised office locations, South African companies have been slow to adapt to this global trend, resulting in the kind of congestion previously only seen in cities like Los Angeles and Bangkok.

Much of this could be alleviated by a widespread move to the cloud, something which would easily enable businesses to become more flexible, and less reliant on staff being in any specific place at a given time. Not only that, but businesses would also be able to save significant time and costs simply by ditching the old in-house server model.

For emerging enterprises, the cloud simply makes sense, as it not only enables simple scalability, but also facilitates the kind of flexible working conditions becoming ever more popular within the entrepreneurial landscape. Today, businesses no longer need premises or set working hours to function optimally, provided data is centrally housed and accessible to all relevant parties – something made available in the cloud at the click of a button.

Additionally, the cloud allows small business owners to operate within their current means, enabling them to essentially operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, expanding their database as they grow, with no obligation to make a significant capital investment upfront. Without any need for an expensive server or costly IT personnel, businesses are free to grow without financial restrictions, making it an obvious choice for up-and-comers in any industry.

But big businesses would do well not to write off the cloud as a budget option for beginners. Globally, the cloud has more than proven itself as an asset to enterprise, with recent studies revealing a 20% average improvement in time to market and a 16% average reduction in operational costs for businesses making use of cloud services. Those are significant numbers, particularly when operating on a larger scale.

In addition, cloud solutions enable big businesses to take a leaf out of the books of their more progressive counterparts, facilitating the creation of an ‘always-on’ system that isn’t dictated by location or time. Should employees need to work late or finish off a project whilst on the go, they’ll no longer be scuppered by the rigorous requirements of on-premise hardware, enabling a smoother workflow, and resulting in increased productivity.

While full-scale cloud operations look feasible in the not-too-distant future, there are interim options in place for those not yet blessed with high-speed internet. Cloud nodes have been designed to bridge the gap between being in the cloud and not, enabling administrators to easily manage servers without necessarily maintaining a live connection. This way, users can still enjoy some of the benefits of the cloud without actually having to make use of excessive data, thus enabling easier, swifter support and drastically reducing costs.

Ultimately, it’s up to businesses to embrace the cloud proactively, or to be forced by circumstances to do so. As traffic continues to worsen and employees continue to demand more workplace flexibility, enterprises will be forced to seek out solutions, many of which are to be found in the cloud. The world is firmly pointed skywards, but the question is, are you?

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