So what exactly is cloud computing? According to Salesforce.com, an experienced vendor of cloud technology services, the shift from traditional software models to online application gained momentum over a decade ago. Cloud computing, specifically, is a mechanism to streamline daunting business applications. Large companies use a tremendous amount of hardware and software to run a multitude of applications, resulting in more bureaucratic IT departments. Small businesses and organizations already at a competitive disadvantage simply don’t stand a chance. However, by shifting the operations of these business applications to the internet and allowing a third party vendor to maintain and operate them behind the scenes, businesses are able to cut costs and increase efficiency—productivity improvements they can use to enhance the experiences of their customers.
According to Wired.com, cloud computing also has numerous other benefits. First and foremost, the use of cloud computing can enhance business agility, providing large corporations and small business alike with a much needed competitive edge. Furthermore, cloud technology has frequently been described as a sort of utility. You pay for what you use, and a third party takes care of all the operational issues.
Businesses have traditionally relied on expansive IT departments to maintain operational software and hardware, highly important facets of a company’s functionality. However, the recent transition to the cloud comes as no surprise, given the desire to continually cut costs and improve efficiency. Ultimately, the ever-growing force pushing toward cloud technology boils down to the ceaseless desire to utilize technology to drive business. As desire to maximize the use of cutting edge technology grows, it seems more and more likely that cloud technology will not only aid business growth but will also enable the formation of new business models altogether in approximately three years.
According to a recent study by Oxford Economics and SAP, 44 percent of enterprises are relying on cloud computing to launch new business models today. This number is expected to grow by 11 percent in the next few years. The same study details that the three largest areas of growth for business due to cloud computing include employee collaboration, customer responsiveness and supply chain efficiency. With 58 percent of enterprises predicting that the use of cloud technology will increase top-line revenues, it is no surprise that business are finding that cloud technology is such a worthwhile investment for business. Approximately a third of the respondents to the aforementioned study claimed that cloud technology has had a transformative impact on their business, particularly in the areas of research and development, innovation and marketing. Finally, with the rapid development of cloud security services, doubts about identity and information theft are rapidly being alleviated.
Several well known companies have made the shift to cloud computing, according to the SmartDataCollective, with innovative and promising results. For example, internet streaming service Netflix’s transition to the cloud has helped it recover in the eyes of its customers. After dividing the internet streaming and DVD arms of its company to much chagrin, Netflix began producing its own shows, with worldwide appeal. In order to handle the surges in internet traffic, followed by dramatic decreases during down times, Netflix turned to the cloud for help matching volatile customer demand. Although few watch Netflix in the morning or during the workday, the streaming service accounts for an astonishing one-third of all weeknight internet traffic in North America. With the number of consumer outpacing Netflix’s technological capabilities, the company was able to match demand only through the use of cloud computing. Another company benefitting from the use of cloud technology is Xerox, which initiated a new “cloud print” service, maximizing customer convenience by allowing them to print with much greater flexibility. This improvement particularly helped small business.
Apple is the last major company that has made major gains utilizing cloud technology. By streamlining user data through all Apple products, including MacBooks, iPhones, iPads and now Apple Watches, Apple was able to synchronize its various products to enhance the user experience. For example, when was the last time you plugged your phone in to synchronize your contacts or other data? With the cloud, such methods are rendered unnecessary. All user data is stored in iCloud and pushed to all Apple devices upon update or user request.
Ultimately, the rapid shift towards cloud technology seems to be driven by a desire for increased customer responsiveness in their marketing and advertising departments, as well as their paramount desire to increase the efficiency of their hardware and software technology without the expansion of their IT departments. Such utilization of cloud technology has helped to increase revenues by cutting costs and improving customer satisfaction by streamlining marketing, advertising and customer responsiveness.