Cloud Sourcing

Last week I sat on a panel in Manchester, aimed at SME’s discussing technology.  Representing the views not only of a hardware manufacturer, but also as a Director of a large business who uses technology to gain competitive advantage.  Any conference examining tech needs to cover the advantages of cloud computing.

The main triggers for IT upgrades in SME’s tend to be the following: -

  1. They are moving.
  2. They are a new business.
  3. They are growing.
  4. They have an urgent need to repair something that is broken (what we call a “distressed purchase”).

In my view, businesses that are new or moving (1 or 2) are much more likely to adopt a higher level of cloud services into their business than those that are growing or repairing (3 or 4).  Once a business is established, in a premises and focussed on growing, it becomes all about adding or growing to the existing IT set-up – evolution, rather than revolution.

One of the primary reasons that large enterprises, who have the resources to look at such things, are considering cloud computing is business agility and competitive advantage.  It means less people plumbing technology, less software development, server maintenance and support – in fact there’s a lot to be said for it.

The number one consideration continues to be security, closely followed by available network speed for access.  It’s a big job to move away from a network infrastructure, however many large enterprises are developing plans towards virtual private clouds.

A new start can doesn’t need a server, applications,  e-mail server, CRM system or finance system, they can rent all these services in the cloud.  They can benefit from the latest software developments, don’t have to worry about capital expenditure for hardware and can focus on what matters most for their new business – sales, marketing and growing like crazy.

They, potentially may benefit from competitive advantage over more established SME’s who may stick with what they’ve got, preferring to not change for reasons of business continuity.  Those that continually refine what they use, how they use it and how they can review their working practices will continually benefit from these new services.

They may well come down to earth with a bump as the future is predicted to be smartphone/tablet based and the concept of “BYOD” (bring your own device) is already being investigated by major CIO’s as part of their future technology policies.

The lesson is this.  It’s worth reviewing what you do and how you do it regularly.  Some major advancements are right here and right now, you could be benefitting from them.  Read up a bit, see what others are doing, go to a conference, invite a supplier, check out a few blogs – the possibilities are endless.