The rise of cloud services has been seemingly unstoppable in recent years. Research last year by US jobsite Zippia estimated that 94% of businesses were using the cloud in some capacity.
If you’re a decision-maker in one of the 6% that haven’t adopted this technology and you’re yet to be convinced that the pros outweigh the cons, here are four persuasive reasons to change your mind. Each is based on what your firm could be losing out on by steering clear of the cloud.
1. Losing out on competitiveness
Even if your company isn’t trying to use the latest technological advances to gain an edge in its market, most of its rivals are certain to be.
Alister Sneddon is head of product at CMC Invest, the developer of an app-based investment platform. He says that “using cloud technology – and using it right – helps businesses to stay at the cutting edge of developments and keep pace with their customers’ needs. Using the cloud to manage security patches, for instance, enables teams to focus on improving processes. Having that time back is crucial in helping you to innovate and enhance the customer experience your products provide.”
Cloud technology has enabled CMC Invest to deploy new features rapidly on the app that it has developed.
“Using the cloud to ‘spin up’ tests and manage technical spikes means that we can create and test ideas at a low cost without affecting our hardware,” Sneddon says. “We can respond to customer feedback within hours, not weeks. As the technology enables serverless edge computing, we are as close to our customers and their devices as possible, which reduces latency and dependencies.”
2. Losing out on adaptability
Another cloud benefit is that its flexibility enables firms to scale their use of its services up and down according to their requirements. This functionality is often viewed through the lens of cost-efficiency, but it’s not only about the bottom line. It’s also about how your business can match the pace of change in a fast-moving market.
“Most businesses have peaks in demand, typically five times greater than usual loads,” says Danny Quilton, co-founder and CTO of the Capacitas consultancy. “If they didn’t use the scalability of the cloud, businesses would have to build their infrastructure five times larger than they need for normal usage.”
He cites JD Sports as an example of a company that spins up ecommerce capacity in the cloud when it can see spikes in demand approaching.
While the ability to turn cloud assets on and off like a tap clearly does offer cost savings, there are also business continuity benefits. A company experiencing a growth spurt and taking on a big influx of new customers, say, can quickly ramp up its capacity in a way that wouldn’t be possible with a traditional hardware solution. The firm can purchase and access cloud services in a matter of hours.
Such flexibility works equally well when a business is on the downswing. For seasonal enterprises that experience lulls at certain times of the year, for instance, the ability to stand cloud services down easily when it doesn’t need them can be just as valuable.
3. Losing out on resilience
One of the hardest things for a company to do is get back on its feet after a serious cybersecurity breach. The impact of a successful ransomware attack can be powerful enough to knock a firm out of business permanently.
Although the number of ransomware attacks worldwide declined slightly between 2021 and last year, according to IBM, the business-interruption risk they pose remains high. Entrusting your data to the cloud won’t prevent such attacks (in many cases, that would require training to stop employees making basic errors such as clicking on suspicious hyperlinks), but it can help your business to get up and running again if the worst does happen.
Businesses using the cloud are twice as likely as non-users to say that they’ve implemented a complete disaster-recovery plan within four hours of an attack. Off-site online back-ups often make it possible for them to recover data that might ordinarily have been compromised by such a hack.
“It’s difficult for ransomware to encrypt files in the cloud, as they tend not to be part of your corporate network,” notes Alan Woodward, visiting professor of cybersecurity at the University of Surrey. “It creates a partial firebreak.”
But he cautions against relying on this tactic too much in the ongoing war against the cybercriminals. “This is not a guarantee – and its usefulness is more about recovering once you’ve rebuilt your in-house platforms,” Woodward stresses.
4. Losing out on the changing face of data
One of the big changes we’re seeing in the how businesses operate in recent years concerns the presentation of data in their workflows. The International Data Corporation has predicted that 80% of the world’s data will be unstructured by 2025. That will have a huge impact on the way systems work and what businesses can do to ensure that they can stay on top of the masses of material they’re expected to handle.
This is another area in which cloud technology can help.
Sébastien Marotte, president of cloud supplier Box in EMEA, explains: “Unstructured data is at the heart of every company’s workflow, from image searches in the marketing team to contract negotiations in the legal department. It can be incredibly hard to secure, access and collaborate on. The cloud enables a centralisation of content in all forms, including unstructured data, and supports collaborative workflows, optimising cooperation and data-driven decision-making.”
He adds that this is becoming ever more relevant as the rise of artificial intelligence continues and various industries find applications for the technology.
“Only from that centralised data set will businesses eventually take advantage of the great strides being made in AI and the potential it promises for productivity,” Marotte predicts. “This affects every role in an enterprise.”