Many businesses are focused on digital transformation and improving processes to step up how they predict and serve customer needs. They are counting on the cloud to help them achieve this, already confident of its flexible and affordable benefits in their organisation.
But that achievement is still threatened by lingering, information-based challenges. In 2018, organisations want to dig more deeply into their information to improve their decision-making, but they still struggle with data silos, so they have a wealth of information trapped within departments.
To some degree, the data silos are the result of different departments not appreciating the broader picture of what can be achieved with their information. But the silos are also the result of firms having numerous cloud and on-premise systems in place which do not “talk” to each other.
In spite of the work by different vendors to better integrate cloud-based systems and eliminate these silos, the continued lack of true interoperability remains a hindrance, according to Sridhar Iyengar, vice president of product management at Zoho, the cloud business platform. “Even with open interfaces and improving integration of different vendors’ cloud solutions, enterprises still need someone there who understands it all and can pull it together,” he says.
Businesses must tackle this issue if they are to unlock powerful insights for informed and smart decision-making. Zoho’s recently launched software Zoho One helps here. The software pulls together its entire range of more than 40 applications, across marketing and sales, IT and the support desk, human resources and finance, in one package, offering centralised administration and access for those who want the full suite. In addition, Zoho has a range of integration partners to carry out any business-specific customisations.
“The key goal with the cloud is business transformation; how to get the most from systems, information, processes and people, to meet customers’ needs and drive effective, automated operations,” explains Mr Iyengar. “The only way to do this is to ensure the systems work well together.”
Even with open interfaces and improving integration of different vendors’ cloud solutions, enterprises still need someone there who understands it all and can pull it together
Firms already relying on the company’s technology include UK-based software business Booking Live, which uses an increasingly broad variety of Zoho platforms, including its HR, customer and financial management software. It counts on the cloud to draw together customers’ details in one place, and to support smart sales and marketing decisions automatically.
“Without a reliable customer relationship management or CRM system, I couldn’t really foresee how we would be able to grow the business,” says Matt King, Booking Live’s sales director. “We get leads from a variety of different sources and Zoho is extremely useful in being able to filter where those leads have come in.”
Zoho and its partners help Booking Live and thousands of other businesses on their journey through the cloud, right from mobilising data for sales reps, through marketing and support to HR and
finance. Firms are only moving such sensitive data into the cloud because they now have a strong trust that cloud suppliers’ security and regulatory compliance are high.
“Businesses can see the enormous amount of research and development from companies like ours around security and being at the cutting edge of technology. They know it’s our bread and butter,” says Mr Iyengar. “That means they feel confident in the security on offer, just as they do with the breadth and depth of solutions we can provide.”
Some organisations may find their confidence put to the test in 2018, however, as regulatory pressures increase sharply. Major new regulation, called GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), will be monitored by government authorities from May. The stringent data privacy rules control storage of customer data, clarify consent processes, and allow consumers to manage how their data is used and when it is deleted. It affects all businesses selling to customers in the European Union, even if they are based elsewhere.
The cost of non-compliance is severe. Firms that breach the rules risk a fine of up to 4 per cent of their annual turnover. And the necessary steps ahead will be onerous as businesses will need to create data privacy teams, thoroughly review processes and data usage, and be prepared to respond to a raft of consumer demands around information. They will also need to check their contracts with any third parties handling their data, including cloud computing suppliers.
Zoho has focused particularly closely on enabling businesses to meet the GDPR regulation. It is transforming its apps in line with the new rules and has redefined the data access needs for its many applications. It is equally enhancing visibility and data controls for its clients, and implementing policies for end-to-end security. In addition, it is enabling individual level data exports so consumers can receive their own information when they ask.
“We’re well aware of our role in providing the right tools and processes to support our customers in meeting their GDPR mandates,” says Mr Iyengar. “Our apps will help customers with key requirements, such as providing access controls, encrypting, anonymising or deleting user data, performing data audits or assessments using data processing logs, creating provisions for data subjects’ rights, and enhancing security for user data.”
In addition, while many other cloud computing firms collect and analyse user data to make money from advertising, particularly in the free versions of their products, Zoho does not do this. “We do not use or monetise our customer data in any way and the only use we make is to check our own system operations to improve our service,” says Mr Iyengar. “We do not serve ads and we never will.”
For organisations of all kinds, the prize for making the most of the cloud is an environment powered by strong digital transformation, effective processes and smart decision-making. These strengths simultaneously benefit the organisations, their customers and end-users alike.
To find out how Zoho’s integrated suite can help your organisation transform in the cloud please visit zoho.eu/one/