How is ‘the cloud’ transforming business?
What is the cloud?
The cloud. Not the big, white, fluffy thing in the sky, but the technology that has found itself at the heart of many businesses. We can’t hear it, see it, or feel it. In fact, few of us actually know where it is.
However, our data lives there, and its capacity to hold on to every little thing we do is beyond our understanding. According to a recent report, around 83% of all data centre traffic will be based in the cloud within the next three years. That is a lot of data.
So with all this data floating about, what does this mean for the people on the ground?
Is it really the ‘Business solution’ everyone claims it to be? Let’s take a closer look…
Manufacturing the cloud
If there is one area where cloud technology is always labelled a “game-changer”, it’s manufacturing. This is unsurprising when you think about all the data manufacturers have to deal with on a daily basis. Cloud computing could seem like the best solution for a difficult challenge.
Knowing what is going on, or not going on, within a manufacturing supply chain is essential. Visibility has been a common concern for manufacturers in recent years, with 40% saying they lacked visibility in their supply chain. Of those surveyed, 36 % suggested their lack of visibility in their supply chains was due to inadequate IT systems.
In steps the cloud.
At the heart of all manufacturing is the need for efficiency. Cloud technology can provide a way to manage everything from the office to the shop floor operations, ultimately collate and define the right data and standards, as well as identify the problems before they even arise – all that the touch of a button.
And don’t even get us started on how it can manage the manufacturing costs…
Banking on the cloud
Traditionally, the banking and finance sector has been one of the most reluctant to embrace new technologies. With security the top concern, you can see why they may hang back when it comes to trying something new.
However, fast forward a few years, and the way we bank has changed completely. Non-bank payment sources are on the rise and cloud technology has found a new home.
While it offers all the usual cost-saving and flexibility benefits, the cloud also offers banking to improve customer service. At a time when new online-only banks are popping up, and physical banks are closing, the focus has moved on to hanging on to the customer.
Cloud technology can make new products and services easier to develop and launch, and boost computing power to meet demand peaks, meaning customers are served faster. Corporate clients are also able to access bank systems anywhere, anytime, making them much more efficient and happier.
Plus the access to big data, combined with unlimited computing power, can enable banks to access more insightful information on their clients and be able to make better decisions for them, and customise their services to meet their needs.
More exciting are the possibilities for improving transaction banking between buyers and sellers. Processing payments, particularly for small business clients, can be inefficient. They have used different technology, however, shared applications in the cloud offer a new payment solution.
The relationship between cloud technology and banking will get stronger. In fact, we’d put money on it.
Anyone who’s ever had to wait for medical test results knows it can be incredibly stressful. However, cloud technology could now help significantly reduce it, or even provide answers in real-time.
One of the biggest issues is getting the required data back to the doctors rapidly. Feeding information into the cloud could enable the results, and analysis, back within seconds.
Faster analysis and diagnosis could save critical time. Doctors will be able to access global research and make informed decisions when it comes to treatment. Not to mention the global access to patient data, pharmaceutical requirements, and patient bookings and billings.
All that information in the cloud could save lives.
Cloud technology is getting an education
It is not just the business community that is benefiting from cloud technology. Now educational facilities are making the most of the benefits for themselves and their students. Just a few years ago, a report from CDW showed that moving to cloud technology was a top priority of nearly half (48%) of higher educational institutions.
Fast forward to 2017, and the cloud in the education market is already worth a whopping $5 billion and is expected to rise to over $12 billion by 2019. So why is cloud technology so important to the educational sector?
Quite simply, the way we learn is changing and the cloud offers the ability to provide distance learning and real-time instruction in the most cost-effective way. Forget the physical classroom for 30, the cloud offers a virtual classroom for 30,000.
Education has a strong social aspect, and the cloud can even help teachers reach even the most remote and underprivileged parts of society. Being able to access teaching materials and training modules through smartphones and laptops could open up a whole new generation to a strong education.
With funding and security challenges changing the face of education, the cloud has a role to play in revolutionising the delivery of education as we know it. Fast forward to 2025, and we could see the global demand for primary and higher education through the cloud double.
Is it all too good to be true?
The benefits for business might seem plentiful, but embracing the cloud does not come without challenges. We have to ask: if all this data is being sent to the cloud, just how safe is it?
It can be easy for businesses to assume that since the data has gone to a third-party, the security issues are theirs. However, legally, it is still your data and, therefore, your responsibility. So if disaster strikes, data is lost, and months and months of information is wiped away, are we protected at all?
It has probably been the biggest concern since the cloud began, but solutions are on the horizon.
Take the new ‘black box’ for example. Created by Microsoft, the new technology encrypts the data whilst it is in use then stores it in “a virtual enclave”. So impressive is this new technology, that cybercriminals and governments won’t be able to get in.
Whilst this may raise some ethical issues, it does prove that the tech sector is moving in the right direction when it comes to protecting our data in the cloud. You know it is being taken seriously when Google steps up to the plate.
The tech giant recently released information on Titan – an itty-bitty chip that apparently has big plans to protect us all when it comes to cloud-based services.
We feel safer already!
A place for everything, and everything in its place
The possibilities with cloud technology are endless and for most businesses, that is the most exciting part. Offering a company the ability to scale up and scale down according to their needs saves two of the most important commodities to them – time and money!
There is power in storage, and cloud technology is here to stay. How much we choose to use it, that is still up for debate.