The reasons that businesses move to the cloud are too varied to generalise… each company is unique, as are its needs and problems. What we can say is that there are general challenges to business growth and success which are solved by moving to cloud services, so here are just 7 of the problems that the cloud is solving for Irish organisations today.
1. Cloud storage solves GDPR and data security headaches
Even now, 3 months on, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is one of the biggest headaches that most European businesses are dealing with at present. The relatively easy actions, like contacting people on mailing lists and revising website material, are over and done with (for most!), but the responsibilities assumed by businesses are still being dealt with on an ongoing basis.
Cloud storage solves many of the difficult issues associated with GDPR compliance: much of the risk is handled by the cloud service provider who has the technical expertise and the scope to assess threats and defend against them. The business then just needs to focus on who is given access to this data and ensuring proper access controls.
Costs can more easily be anticipated with cloud storage as the only variables are usually the amount of data storage space required and the number of users needing access. Cloud storage is also cheaper than paying for local hosting and local technical support.
The question of local servers or cloud storage is one that many businesses see as their stepping stone to business expansion – somehow the recognition that your data can be in the cloud is often a turning point that allows a business to grow and develop exponentially.
2. Downtime difficulties are dramatically reduced
In-house IT systems come with the inevitable problems of network upgrade requirements and hardware obsolescence. With the cloud there are no onsite servers to upgrade, your cloud provider handles all the upgrades to the system without you even knowing it.
Plus, new employees need to take far less time to get used to your processes because they are being given computing systems that they are likely to be familiar with, that are state of the art, and that are designed to be intuitive to use.
Endless downtime disappears – your business is more productive and computing frustrations become a thing of the past.
3. Coping with change is easier with the cloud
Where will your business be in a decade? Irish companies, more than most, have experienced turbulent times in recent years and there’s more uncertainty on the horizon. For those already in the cloud, new services for business can be trialled without risk and adopted with cost-effectiveness.
For example, several Dublin-based organisations are currently experimenting with AI chatbots to streamline their customer queries, giving them 24/7 call handling with a distinctive brand identity and a simple way of funnelling customer concerns without taking on extra staff.
If innovations such as this don’t work, generally you can simply remove them from your cloud package and reduce your costs – no hardware investment, no commitment to ongoing use, just a simple test of the latest business technology that allows your business to grow without risk.
4. Mobile staff need mobile data
Today’s workforce is becoming increasingly more mobile. It’s becoming a requirement for both prospective employees as well as prospective clients. So, businesses’ IT systems and support need to be mobile as well.
Moving to the right cloud services means that your team can access the data they need anywhere, at any time and on almost any device. It frees them to do their job whether they are on the go, out with clients, or even abroad, which means you get the best from them.
5. Scaling business operations up and down can be costly
For many businesses, a businesses operational requirements across a single year isn’t all that predictable, it’s fluid. Seasonal changes, surges in demand or competition, local events, mergers and partnerships all impact the scope of your activity.
Cloud services enable your IT systems and processes to change with you in a cost-effective way, allowing you ultimate flexibility. You can add users to your system, invest in extra storage space, link systems with other cloud users, with the simple click of a button in many cases. Then, if necessary, you can reverse all the expansion a couple of months later when that project or surge is over, and go back to your original costs.
Cloud based businesses are leaner in costs and yet richer in opportunities because they haven’t tied up their capital in expensive computing infrastructure and are able to change their cloud services contract according to their needs.
6. The limitations of internal tech teams
With in-house systems and IT support teams, getting IT issues resolved can normally take quite a while and this wait time only increases as the systems get more and more outdated and the support team has to maintain higher levels of obsolescence.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just have unlimited tech support? Not to have to wait for your in-house tech team to resolve your problem? With cloud for business, support is built into the cost and your provider’s support team is almost certainly much larger and experienced than your own, so you’re always able to access an expert to resolve any problem your company may experience.
7. Disaster recovery becomes almost instantaneous
Remember the flash floods of 2008, when cities like Cork, Dublin and Belfast were largely underwater? How about the snow in early 2018? If your businesses data, systems and processes are reliant on systems that can be destroyed overnight, you’ve definitely got a problem!
Aside from the natural, IT disasters can take many forms, servers crash, power supplies go out, companies are targeted by cyber-criminals, employees make mistakes or deliberately sabotage your business…
Cloud services limit the effects of any disaster by protecting your data, storing it remotely and with multiple backups, building in redundancies and failsafes, giving you fingertip control of who can access what 24/7 and allowing you to continue business operations even if your premises, usual hardware or team members are unavailable.
In essence, the cloud helps many businesses be stronger, more robust, innovate without risk and grab their opportunities to grow and prosper.