For many business managers and owners, the cloud is no longer a new concept. A growing portion of them already depend on the cloud for services as diverse as customer relationship management, email, office productivity and accounting software, and understand the basic benefits the cloud offers.
What that means for resellers and cloud service providers is that we need to look beyond the obvious operational benefits—the cost reductions, the move from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, the freedom from managing infrastructure, and so forth—towards the strategic benefits as we sell the cloud. The cloud isn’t just about reducing the cost and pain of running a Microsoft Exchange email server.
It is also about unlocking new strategic options for an organisation. These come from the speed and low cost at which organisations can deploy new applications and services to employees, customers, business partners and other end-users. For instance, an organisation that wants to scale out and rapidly add new branches and resellers to its business can rapidly get them up-and-running with email, line applications and other services.
It can also provide people with access to these applications and services on a mobile device nearly anywhere. This isn’t simply a way to save IT costs, but an opportunity to create new business models. What if, for example, one could rapidly enable resellers to go out on the road to sell products and take orders rather than needing a dedicated branch in each town?
New strategic options That is just one basic example of how the cloud is creating new strategic options for businesses of all sizes—and the opportunities are multiplying as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and artificial intelligence start to mature. In the days before the cloud, testing and deploying the latest emerging technologies was a complex, expensive and potentially risky business.
One would need to put infrastructure in place, have lots of consultants and techies onsite, and make a sizeable upfront investment. Now, however, companies of all sizes have access to technology on a scale and richness of functionality that many simply could not contemplate five years ago. For example, a small business can provision an IoT solution on Azure in 10 minutes with a credit card.
Or it could look at using a range of machine learning algorithms or chatbots to automate some of its basic customer service needs or to provide customer recommendations on its ecommerce site. Suddenly, whatever the size of the company, launching cool new apps for employees or new services for customers can be done faster, more affordably and with less risk than before.
The latest and best technology isn’t just for big banks with hundreds of millions to spend on IT anymore—it is for any company that has a clever idea. This means that we are in a new age where small and mid-sized companies can get going with a range of IT investments that give them a competitive advantage.
By Kathryn Tindale, Director: sales, Tarsus On Demand