The best way I can describe the feeling a lot of people have about moving their business to the cloud is the way the hero feels in “Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom”. On his final leg of the quest to find the Holy Grail, our bullwhip-wielding protagonist has to take a step into what looks like thin air to cross a bottomless chasm to reach his final destination. Turns out the way forward is there, he just couldn’t see it until he was on it.
Trusting in something you cannot see to gain access to something amazing is a pretty appropriate description of what it means to take your business into the cloud.
Worth it? Absolutely.
Before we get deeper into your potential move to the cloud, let’s talk about one reason not to make the move: Because the competition is doing it.
Just like your mother always told you about jumping off that proverbial bridge, don’t let peer pressure be your reason to move to the cloud. Think of how many companies have regretted buying one of those inflatable dancing things or a digital billboard you can see from 50 miles away just because the guys across the street did it first. Decisions as big as moving your business processes to a cloud environment shouldn’t be made likely.
Let’s unpack some warning signs that can let you know that a move is necessary as well as the benefits that will result from engaging a cloud-service provider (CSP).
Signs You Should Move to the Cloud
- You need real-time data: A generation ago, businesses made their future plans based on yearly, quarterly or monthly data. The idea of waiting 90 days to get results that will determine your strategy going forward falls somewhere between ludicrous and terrifying for most modern-day firms, but there are still plenty of companies doing just that because their systems can’t handle a shorter turnaround. If you want to take that quantum leap forward to being able to parse and interpret data as it’s being recorded, then the cloud and its ability to constantly monitor and instantly report on data is essential.
- You need 24/7/365 access to your business: The first time I checked my work email remotely, I felt like I had superpowers. Suddenly I had advanced warning about all the little problems people were emailing me after5 p.m. had come and gone. Putting your business in the cloud gives you access to every single thing you need no matter what time of day it is. And it’s not just for you, but for anyone you deem necessary to grant that access to, along with your customer base. If they’re placing orders in the middle of the night, the cloud’s fluidity is going to make sure every process necessary to get that order filled and shipped has happened by the time the office opens tomorrow morning. Being open all the time wipes out reputation killers like lost revenue, poor service and unhappy customers.
- Your company is spread across multiple offices or has a lot of employees who travel frequently.About five years ago I was working for a firm that was based I the UK but also had offices in Houston, Shanghai and a few other places. To access all the proper databases and software products for my job, I had to start my machine up and then log onto a virtual desktop based in London. On a good day, this process took 15-20 minutes; on a bad day, more like 40. Multiply that by 55 employees in one office and the daily, weekly and monthly time-sink where absolutely nothing was getting done is staggering. Bottom line is, your employees should not have to struggle to get access to the tools that they need to do their work. A cloud environment makes remote access just as easy as logging on from the CEO’s office, and everywhere in between.
- 4. You need room to grow.I’ve yet to encounter the business leader who says, “We’re a perfect size, let’s not change a thing!” Growing your business pre-cloud meant one of two things – either you were going to shove a bunch of extra work on your employees or you were going to have to go through a painful, expensive upgrade of your backroom systems that would probably take a long time and involve lots of physical migration of data. The cloud environment eliminates that stress almost entirely. Data migration can be done as close to automatically as possible and things like infrastructure and software are expanded to fit your expansion with the press of a button instead of the long process of finding new vendors to upgrade everything but the kitchen sink. And let’s be honest here: Sometimes your growth is in the opposite direction. A long-time customer goes out of business or there’s a downturn in the industry. Whatever the reason, sometimes you’re having to downsize your business instead of the other way around. The cloud works both ways and does so with efficiency and cost as the paramount requirements.
- You need to fix your fixed costs.So you’ve got your own servers, backups and databases on site. You contract with a local IT firm to keep everything humming along and have a tech come out every week to handle all the little bugs and quirks that pile up over the course of seven days in an office environment. But when your server suddenly crashes at 3 a.m., an employee accidentally uploads a virus to your system off a flash drive, you’re frantically calling the IT guy’s after-hours hotline and getting charged an arm and a leg to get things up and running again. The cloud environment is a 180-degree turnaround. You know what you’re paying upfront and the fixed cost is really fixed. You can even track it by the hour, the minute, and in some cases even the second.
- Your business is innovation. Running a website used to be so much simpler, right? You were ahead of the pack if you had a moving ticker above your masthead that you could update with news of a special offer with a few lines of HTML code. Online business moves a lot faster these days. If you’re finding your business breaking into new markets, seeing the power of using technology or realizing new ways to connect to your target audience, the cloud is the only way to keep your business agile and dynamic. If you have to reach out to vendors and physically install new software, infrastructure or business tools, it’s likely your competitors will beat you to the bunch, no matter how innovative your brain trust might be.
Are any of these situations scratching your business sense right where it itches? Even if you’re just the slightest bit interested in what the cloud can do for you, reach out to a cloud hosting provider of your choice to explore all your options. Security is a major concern for most businesses, so read up on cloud security as well.