2012 was predicted to be the year of the cloud. As we move into autumn we can probably say the predictions were right. When IBM sent out a survey to Chief Information Officers more than 67% of small companies said they’d adopted the technology. Not only that but over half of the officers they spoke to said that when they’re looking for a technical solution they turn to the Cloud before other traditional IT solutions.
If the first step of the journey was encouraging take-up and education about the potential of the Cloud then we can probably say we’re hitting all the right targets. The Cloud is mainstream. But what’s next?
In the same survey CIOs were asked about how the Cloud fits in with the rest of their organisation. We’re not just talking about Hosted Exchange or SharePoint here. These are approaches that are going to impact on every member of staff, simply because it impacts on how they communicate with each other and their clients. Instead we’re talking about applications and creative solutions. Only 16% of the officers asked said they use the Cloud in terms of innovation, of helping themselves set up against their competition or re-shaping their industry. Instead the majority said they still see it as a technology that sits with the IT department, rather than the wider business.
This will be the next step for the Cloud, for businesses to figure out how they can use it in the wider areas of their business.
Imagine a pitch meeting where you could stand in-front of your new potential client and tell them about the work you do and then introduce them to your contacts and staff all over the world, simply through your computer screen. How about if you’re arranging deliveries and logistics and you develop an easy way for each warehouse and supplier you deal with, all over the world, to update their stock every morning so you can view how much of a particular product they have the minute you sit down at your desk.
OK, these ideas might not suit you perfectly but the cost-effective nature of the Cloud isn’t simply about updating and refreshing your IT. It can have a greater impact on operational costs, helping you to streamline expense or cut down the time you spend on a project. At its heart is improving communication, making the sharing of knowledge quick, easy and much more cost-effective. How would it impact your business if you could find a better way to collect customer data, if you could use that data to develop a personalised experience for every customer through your e-communications? How much more money would they spend with you?
The Cloud is not simply about IT managers giving themselves high-fives because they no longer need a survey and have reduced the IT budget of a company significantly. It offers instead, a way for you to fundamentally shift the way you communicate and serve your customers, your clients and your staff. The next step of the Cloud will not be people talking about the benefits of take-up; instead it will be business owners being praised because they’ve adapted the technology to help them get one step ahead of the competition.
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