To remain agile in an evolving market, organisations in all sectors are revising their budgets and business plans, writes Robert Marston, Global Head of Product at SEACOM. According to Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practise, it’s critical for business leaders to understand that large-scale shifts are currently changing how people work and how business gets done. Leaders who respond effectively can ensure their organisation’s competitive advantage and long-term survival.
One of these major shifts is evident in the IT industry with increased cloud adoption, which is why cost containment strategies should focus on an organisation’s annual IT spend. IT services and systems are critical to the vast majority of companies, and most wouldn’t be able to conduct business without things like access to the Internet, email or shared documents. For many companies, almost all of their data is stored digitally, and IT services allow employees to access company documents and collaborate easily – which is especially important considering remote working.
Cloud technology, with both its cost- and time-saving benefits, couldn’t come at a better time for companies looking to preserve business continuity and build enterprise resilience. It’s claimed that cloud computing is 40 times more cost-effective than running an in-house IT system, but how and where can this be quantified?
Reduced hardware and software costs
The problem of superfluous or outdated infrastructure no longer exists when you invest in the cloud. When partnering with a reputable cloud provider, you are essentially freeing your business from costly hardware upgrades and maintenance expenses as well as ongoing software licensing costs. As a natural consequence, there will be reduced power and space overheads too.
No more worrying about keeping the server room cool, or even having a server room at all! The responsibility then falls on your cloud provider to optimise their infrastructure across all their clients, leaving you to focus on your core business.
Fewer IT resources
Traditionally, the size of an organisation’s computing capacity had to be matched by the size of the team administrating and supporting it. Moving to the cloud automatically reduces the need for an entire desktop support team, as users are upskilled to understand the new systems and applications themselves. This does not imply that an entire department needs to be retrenched – they can now be freed up to work on other projects. A more streamlined and efficient IT team will only need to oversee the migration and the ongoing relationship with the chosen provider.
At a small business level, a lot of those skills would have had to be brought in and finding a reliable IT support partner can often be a challenge. Moving to the cloud lets smaller businesses access services they wouldn’t have been able to access previously.
The cloud economy is based on a simple consumption-based model: you only pay for what you use. In effect, this eliminates the often hefty costs of licensing and hosting because of less than optimal usage. Instead, cloud providers will allocate resources according to a company’s specific needs. In this way, you’re not only saving money on the unused capacity, but you also gain greater flexibility in being able to scale your needs rapidly up and down, as needed – both now and in the future.
Gone are the days where a company has either overestimated its growth and overspent on IT hardware or, conversely, has not anticipated demand and scrambles to procure and install the necessary IT hardware to support it.
The speed and convenience that come with cloud computing is a secondary benefit which can be experienced immediately. At any given time, an employee can access their work remotely and continue to deliver seamlessly from anywhere in the world. Additionally, cloud services are generally faster than other localised computing infrastructure, which means that changes are implemented faster, tasks are completed quicker, and teams are freed up to produce more. In this way, business owners are able to direct their workforce’s attention and energy to the company’s core offering and to keep their customers happy.
The cost of not moving
As well as all of these cost savings, not moving to the cloud can actually end up costing you far more in the long run. The cloud makes disaster recovery and business continuity much easier than before – for big and small businesses. Imagine this scenario, all too common in South Africa: your business servers get stolen or damaged over the weekend, and, come Monday, no one can do any work.
To make matters worse, the IT manager forgot to do the back-up on Friday, and now you’ve lost a whole week of work (and a whole week’s worth of business). Many companies struggle with these issues because they don’t have the skills or processes in place to ensure business continuity. Moving your data to the cloud eliminates the risks that physical servers pose. Just make sure your cloud provider is committed to good cloud security!
Ultimately, a move to the cloud makes the most financial sense for both the short- and long-term by reducing costs and complexity. It will free up your resources to deliver results while providing agility in highly competitive business landscapes. Look for a local cloud provider that offers needs-based cloud solutions – you might be surprised by how much cheaper some of the local offerings are than those from international providers. And for organisations that remain cloud-agnostic, there are lift and shift solutions whereby a company’s existing platform and infrastructure is simply hosted and run by a cloud partner.
Either way, a move to the cloud with a trusted partner affords any business the benefits of modern technology, the advantages of reduced costs and the reward of reduced risk – essentially enabling you to do more with less.