As the coronavirus hit, it became clear to many businesses that they had to pivot or peril, breathing new life into digital transformation efforts and highlighting cloud computing’s ability to fuel significant growth
The world is going through a period of reinvention. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, firms in every vertical were working methodically to achieve business growth. Many were aiming to become software-centric companies, using data-driven workflows and running on the widespread deployment of digital platforms. The drive for digital transformation remains, but the pandemic has accelerated the cadence of what had previously been a reasonably systematic, planned progression.
When COVID-19 struck, many businesses had to close their physical facilities almost overnight. This meant moving to online, virtual, predominantly cloud-based technologies to keep daily operations moving. The technology transformation that companies regarded as important, but essentially aspirational, suddenly became fundamental.
In many cases, firms have realised that to achieve commercial survival and subsequent reinvention for future business growth, they must adapt to an even more digitally empowered world than they had first envisaged.
Onwards (and upwards) to cloud
As frontline healthcare and other key workers kept life running in the UK and elsewhere, the business world realised it didn’t have the luxury of planning, strategic counsel or even the option to hold face-to-face meetings. It’s well known that when businesses embark upon a new market or product development, the first step is to put the foundations in place. In 2020, there was no time for that. This meant organisations had to find ways to establish faster, more flexible and more efficient working practices with little or no time for foundational planning.
The cloud model of service-based computing centralises on a shift away from capital expenditure (capex) costs and responsibilities because the cloud provider supplies the infrastructure, technology platforms, and many of the software services and applications. This move to an operational expenditure (opex) model gives even small companies the chance to access economies of scale that were once reserved for large enterprises.
The business benefits of cloud can be translated directly into fast-track business growth for startups and accelerated scale-up development for organisations on the cusp of expansion. Equally, a more flexible ability to tap into opex-charged computing resources can allow established companies to reinvent, co-create and collaborate, prototype and innovate in ways they may not have considered as recently as the turn of the millennium.
Making growth possible for any organisation
Implications for business growth of cloud backbones are far reaching. World regions that were once technology poor can now, with an internet connection, tap into the same “pipe” as businesses anywhere around the globe. A three-person startup in a city with no particular technological prowess or community can potentially have as much access to computing power as a firm in Silicon Valley.
In a recent Public First survey, carried out in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), 67 per cent of companies using AWS, said their business or operating model would not be possible without the cloud. This is part of our new normal.
Some companies still harbour misgivings and uncertainties about the business benefits of cloud. If our IT stack and data is never on our own premises, then how do we know whether our information is safe? If we have to use even more expansive cloud services in the post-COVID era, for more complex data exchange and collaboration applications to support remote working, how can we be sure remote security exists? The fact is that most cloud service providers know more about network security than most organisations, whatever the industry vertical.
The wider scope of cloud
Security, data governance and information compliance functions will all form a central part of a comprehensive enterprise cloud service provider offering at its core. But organisations have the chance to leverage far more than “just” the core computing, storage, information management and networking functions of cloud. Progressive companies looking to exploit the full potential for business growth in the cloud will need a full toolset of technology functions.
A fully featured cloud service provider will offer somewhere in the region of 200 services all aligned for specific tasks and functions. This would typically include technologies built to service data analytics, robotics, machine-learning and artificial intelligence, internet of things, mobile devices as well as virtual and augmented reality.
But despite all this on-tap power, many organisations still, unfairly, regard cloud computing as complex, tough to orchestrate and difficult to implement. This is where customers should look to the breadth of expertise available inside their chosen cloud service provider. Web-based training, self-paced labs, customer support, third-party offers and, in some cases, service credits for startups are all available.
Tech you don’t have to think about
They say the best technology is tech the user is not even aware of. These are software tools and applications users will access every day, without necessarily thinking about the fact they might be delivered via the cloud. From communication and collaboration services to data-rich applications, visualisation tools and business dashboards, the cloud has massive breadth and depth. It is capable of delivering uptime and service power rapid-growth and indeed, in 2020, rapid-change firms need, without the capital outlay that would have been required before the cloud era.
Cloud provides a platform for computing that acts as a flexible business platform for commercial growth, agility, expansion and change. Organisations that tap into the power available from the cloud engine room position themselves intelligently for business growth and digital transformation. The cloud is industry agnostic, largely location agnostic (depending on local broadband access) and, above all, it is software application agnostic, which means that quite literally anything is possible.
Over the next decade, the total impact of the cloud on gross domestic product is likely to double as a growing share of the economy takes advantage of cloud technology. Adopted correctly, there’s no cumulus fluff on the computing cloud. It offers solid steps towards new heights of business growth.