Since the beginning of this year, we have seen acceleration in the demand for the cloud; SMEs are well aware that innovative technologies can make a business more efficient and contribute to growth; but what do you need to know about the cloud and how do you know which solution is best for you?
“On your marks”
SMEs have a growing interest for cloud-based technologies, but before taking the leap, it is important to get it right for your SME.
For companies that have built their business and competitive advantage on an existing technology infrastructure, making significant changes to implement the cloud is not only impractical, but unnecessary.
The beauty of the cloud is that it’s designed to empower businesses to extend their existing on-premise apps and infrastructures to enable new innovative business processes, gain greater insights, and unlock new value for the business.
Not only this, but further benefits can be seen within the workforce; it enables employees to work in a mobile environment and engage with innovative technology that will increase their efficiency.
There’s no shortage of cloud solutions out there – but by asking the right questions, you can quickly cut through many of the myths that circulate and get the right technology in place to meet your needs and accelerate the results that you deliver.
The first step to deciding which model is best for you is to truly understand the requirements of the various business functions and their users. You need to be open to suggestions from employees regarding where new capabilities lie.
The next step would be to work with each department and identify which cloud services would potentially add the value that each department needs.
By approaching the problem in this collaborative manner, departmental heads are much more likely to understand the position of IT and embrace new innovations.
Cloud services come in many different shapes and sizes, but the best ones deliver two things: innovation and agility.
Here are some things to consider as you evaluate what’s out there:
As we see developments within the marketplace, SMEs must look at how to streamline what they do. Cloud solutions are no longer a case of ‘one size fits all’ – SMEs need to think less about whether to go with ‘public’ or ‘private’ solutions and more about what you actually need to achieve.
Utilising both public and private cloud allows SMEs to leverage pre-packaged solutions available in the public cloud whilst at the same time retain key systems that require full control in a private cloud within the organisation; providing reliability and security, but can be hosted by a cloud provider or partner.
We are progressively seeing a shift towards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) as the preferred model of cloud services.
This negates the need for you to maintain or invest in any hardware and software for developing cloud based applications, as that is all managed by the cloud provider. The development and deployment of applications across your network, along with the mechanics of infrastructure is also left to the provider.
In theory this should offer best-practice, secure deployment and better quality.
‘Bring Your Own Cloud’
Cloud can be deployed for new applications that are difficult or impossible to run with old technologies. This results in a business without boundaries – where devices in the home, workplace, and the Internet of Things provide seamless information for both businesses and individuals.
‘Bring Your Own Cloud’ (BYOC) is a concept that allows your employees to use public or private third-party cloud services to help with certain tasks (for example, DropBox). BYOC often involves the convergence of enterprise and consumer software, both in the cloud and on-premise, to complete a job.
However, be sure to think about security policies here, as mixing consumer and enterprise data together can be seen as a barrier.
SMEs today must compete in this intensively connected world; upgrading and investing in innovative technology is the number one factor in increasing efficiency and growth.
As more and more SMEs begin to adopt cloud models, it is now vital that you enter the race and do not get overtaken by competitors.
Get a head start by being in the know and finding out what’s best for your SME.
I’m excited to see how the cloud will develop and help SMEs grow, one thing is for sure, those that do implement will undoubtedly have an edge on their rivals.
John Bryceland, Head of SME Sales at SAP UKI