Cloud computing delivers incredible advantages for modern companies. Here’s a look at the 15 most important ways businesses can benefit from this technology.
1. Omnipresent Computing
Omnipresence is the most obvious advantage of cloud computing. Because the cloud isn’t tied to a single location, neither is the information it holds. Multiple business sites or partners can use standard dashboards to look at and plan from the same data sets, utilize a common set of ordering, shipping, and tracking tools, and share other synergistic functionality.
2. Improved Security
One survey by RapidScale found that 94% of companies experienced security improvements after implementing cloud solutions. This runs contrary to popular opinion, which says using the cloud makes you more, not less, vulnerable.
Cloud service providers have come a long way on the security front — it’s rare to find one that doesn’t employ encryption of some kind. No matter your cloud provider or the promises it makes, some habits are still worth observing, such as encrypting company files before they’re sent for storage.
3. Organization and Access Control
The organization of company data in the cloud is one part security benefit and one part convenience. A well-ordered storage solution provides file hierarchy, databases and dashboards grouped by department, and makes use of access controls and permissions to enable only the desired level of accessibility and cross-functionality.
4. Easier Compliance
Compliance rounds out security, organization and access control in a group of related advantages. Thanks to the top-down view of company data, the ability to share or silo information as required, and tighter control over access, it’s easier for companies to demonstrate compliance with GDPR requirements in the EU. In addition, they can better adhere to similar privacy and data handling laws emerging elsewhere.
5. Savings and Predictable Billing
Benefits on the budgeting side of things are another one of the advantages of cloud computing. It’s a great way to secure storage space, computing functionality, or dashboard and analysis tools. Cloud-based services are usually pay-as-you-go and require no investment upfront in hardware, plus there’s no maintenance.
6. Guaranteed Uptime
Providers of cloud computing services have a compelling reason to strive for 100% uptime: because their reputations and livelihoods depend on it. Unlike your in-house IT team members, who need sleep from time to time, cloud services have people on the case 24/7 to ensure their clients’ databases and processes remain operational, functional and accessible.
7. Automatic Updates
Anybody who relies on or is familiar with digital infrastructure knows the importance of regular firmware and software updates. One of the benefits of cloud computing is that these maintenance tasks are lifted from your shoulders. Cloud computing vendors are responsible for applying security patches and other updates as they become available, but not at a time that’s inconvenient. These are important considerations for security and productivity.
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8. Workforce Mobility
We covered omnipresent computing, but not workforce mobility. The fact that our processes and data can follow us anyplace thanks to mobile dashboards and devices begs the next question: How do we take advantage of the ubiquity of these services? The answer for 5.2% of Americans in 2017 was to telecommute to work. What’s good for workers is good for employers: Studies have associated working from home with higher morale and productivity.
Does your business have a growth mindset? If it does, it’s going to outgrow its current infrastructure sooner rather than later. Cloud computing, thankfully, makes scalability a breeze. Remember that you’re not deploying your own hardware: You’re paying a company to make resources available to you. If your needs change as your operation grows, so can your service lineup.
10. Disaster Recovery
One of the advantages of cloud computing is the ability to decentralize business intelligence and make more functionality available to a wider variety of industrial and organizational stakeholders. A nice side-effect of this decentralization is the opportunity to protect company data and IP from loss.
Even in 2018, some 28% of IT decision-makers polled by Dell indicated they had experienced irrevocable data loss. Cloud computing provides the means to store the most recent iterations of files and data off-site, and even the ability to carry on with critical business functions from a secondary or temporary location.
11. Smoother Collaboration
It’s easy to overlook the thousands of small ways cloud functionality has changed collaboration for the better. It’s increasingly rare for co-workers to send documents back and forth to each other as email attachments, for example. It’s much more likely that the entire transaction will happen using a cloud-based collaboration tool. Most of the major office suites also offer real-time collaboration so every party can see changes to documents as they’re made, no matter where in the company or world they happen to be. Other cloud-based productivity apps work similarly.
12. Reduction of Delays
Because cloud computing uses internet connectivity to push the latest changes to every access point, it also represents a way to eliminate delays that could arise if paperwork isn’t reconciled between one point and another, such as when shipments change hands or payments or goods cross a border. One example is the supply chain, where companies must have inventories and manifests that accurately reflect the freight in question, documents that bear the necessary approvals, and the results of confirmations and inspections. The cloud keeps all involved parties and authorities on the same page.
13. Real-Time Access to Insights
The Internet of Things runs on the cloud. This is how businesses can, among other things, receive data feeds and alerts for time- and environment-sensitive merchandise, such as foodstuffs or pharmaceuticals, after it leaves their docks. The cloud makes temperature and humidity data visible and actionable so distribution companies can react to problems or changes as needed.
The cloud also gives intelligence capabilities to material handling and manufacturing equipment so maintenance staff can predict potential failures and keep an eye on machine health even from a distance.
Cloud computing helps companies reduce their carbon footprints by sharing infrastructure. Compared with the hassle and expense of building on-premises servers, engaging the services of a cloud provider means companies don’t have to assemble physical assets they don’t need.
15. Less Need for IT Talent
Lots of companies and industries are finding themselves up against a shortage of data and analytics specialists. One thing they don’t want to do is tie up their existing computer talent in IT development. That’s a task best left to third parties, so your in-house staff can focus on the bigger picture and use the tools they’d otherwise spend their time maintaining.
The advantages of cloud computing are vast. It’s not a question of whether companies and industries need to adopt it to compete and survive, but rather how long they’ll wait before doing so.