Naturally I think moving to the cloud is a complete no brainer, but I understand it takes time to change peoples’ habits and assumptions. For most of us, it’s been about a box under the desk since first learning how to use a computer, so its not surprising that it’s taken time to change the old way of doing things.
While the benefits of working in the cloud are many, trying to explain the cloud concept and wean people off their own networked PCs only became easier once we all became comfortable with cloud services that we adopted as consumers – iPhones, apps, Facebook, Twitter, and other examples going back to Hotmail in the mid 90s. It was Julie Meyer who pointed out to me many years ago that big changes in IT start in the consumer market – Julie gave the example of Skype and how that came first ahead of businesses adopting Voice over IP phone services. The consumerisation of IT meant that your staff are coming to work with a mobile device on which they can do so much – post photos on Facebook, access their music in the cloud, send emails to their family and friends and follow the latest trends on Twitter.
Arriving at the office and finding a box under your desk seems old fashioned now - and limited. You are limited to working in the office on a particular device. You may be able to access your work machine remotely but usually by having to set up and configure a complicated “VPN” on your home computer. We’re getting to the heart of the issue here. The consumerisation of IT makes most business leaders at least aware of cloud computing. But being aware of it is not in itself a reason to adopt it, as businesses cannot afford just to adopt the latest trendy things for no reason. Which begs the question, what are the reasons we should move to the cloud?
There are so many benefits over and above traditional IT that adopting cloud computing is a no brainer. The key drivers are scalability, reducing capital expenditure, simplifying operations, improving productivity, transparent pricing, paying just for what your business consumes – and never having to worry about the upgrade cycle again.
Clearly a lot of businesses have got the message, which is why we see our market getting much larger from here on in. The fact of the matter is that people today understand that a professional cloud service addresses any lingering concerns over issues such as data speed, privacy and data security.
But if you run a business and are still wondering whether to take the leap and move your IT systems to the cloud, here are more detailed arguments in its favour.
First, you are going to save money. By our estimates, you could reasonably expect to save around a third of your annual IT spend by moving to the cloud.
The savings come from not having to fork out on expensive servers, not having to purchase a separate back-up system and not having to invest capital in bog standard software licenses such as Office.
It’s not only on capital expenditure that you can save. There’s also the cost of in house IT managers and support staff, or expensive external IT consultants. While you may wish to keep some of this experience in house, we find that most of our clients are able to cut back considerably on IT support costs by moving to the cloud.
And don’t forget to budget for your own or other staff members’ management time. Your in house IT staff have to report to someone, and if you are the boss of a small company, it’s probably you!
But moving to the cloud is not just about cost savings. It’s about productivity and efficiency.
From working in the IT industry for many years, I know that PCs crash for about 35 minutes a month for most businesses. OK, it’s a small amount of lost production for an individual, but you can see how much time is lost when you start to work it out across your staff base. In fact, for an employee earning £35,000 a year losing 9 hours equates to lost production of £163 in wasted wages.
It’s not only a waste of wages; you should factor in the lost opportunity to make money out of that dead time. Obviously it’s not easy to put a figure on this lost value, but if your firm lost a key client or sale that resulted from the IT system crash, this could represent a catastrophic loss of value.
Moreover, think of the productivity gains the ‘always on’ generation produce for the business, able via their phones or blackberries to work extended hours in order to get the job done. And if they are working in the cloud, the difference between ‘at work’ and outside of it virtually disappears. This is why moving to the cloud makes so much sense, and helps businesses have predictable costs of IT, and of course the peace of mind from almost total system uptime.