By Deon Geyser
If you don't believe Cloud is one of the catalysts to business evolution in our generation, then you haven't been paying close attention. It is an efficient link between products (or services) and the market. Cloud is the next generation business tool and if businesses are not adapting, they will leak value.
Financial services companies, including the big banks, are historically among the most cautious institutions - particularly in a world fraught with economic instability. Yet, it is these institutions that are leading the way for cloud adoption - shedding the burden of IT costs and entering a new world of process and cost efficiency.
Old mainframes that these organisations used were purpose-built hardware installations geared towards a singular goal. But now, banks are beginning the great trek towards cloud services to get away from purpose-built hardware and utilise pre-existing applications. And they do this together with OEMs, including IBM, Microsoft and others, end-to-end managed services businesses, and advisors to determine the best cloud-driven solution to suit their needs.
And it's not just financial services. Telecoms, mobile operators, and retailers are on their way to adopting a cloud-centric future. If these implacable sectors are making the change, there has got to be a bonfire to go with that smoke.
The catalysts for change
Before a global pandemic shifted the way we thought about remote operations, we were already seeing the likes of Microsoft changing the way we use services. The tech giant was pushing new customers away from on-prem licenses towards cloud-based solutions. The firm learned from trying out this business model and prepared the tech giant for changes to come in the market for cloud-based solution.
Then, in 2020, COVID-19 entered the mix. All of a sudden, the requirement for business to adopt remote applications and workforces meant that cloud services provided the golden ticket to business continuity. Everyone was suddenly jumping on Microsoft Teams, and sharing documents into centralised servers through related Cloud services. It changed the way businesses viewed their ICT infrastructure.
People no longer had this dire need to sit next to their infrastructure. The IT manager didn't have to (or at least wasn't always able to) sit by the server and monitor the red and green lights from 9am to 5pm. They had to figure out how to do that remotely and trust that the services (in this case on-prem infrastructure) were working as they were intended to do.
The change that has to happen can happen easily
However, adapting to new technologies is an iterative process because not everything can (or even should) happen at once. But if you start by moving your email services into the Cloud and its working, it becomes easy to consider your other applications like ERP, workflow management, approval chains, analytics and more.
Where historically this would require intensive system and hardware integration, Cloud services bring the benefit of integrating these services faster. You don't even need to consider hardware as a significant investment in this equation, which should fundamentally change your outlook on IT spend.
Enterprises don't have to worry about servers and storage in multiple locations. Hardware failure, load shedding, and natural disasters are a worry of the past as cloud services are already set up in such a way that these issues don't matter.
Another element of the cloud-based cost-saving evolution comes in the form of unified communications. More and more companies are making the move from traditional phone systems to cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) to provide a more efficient and cost effective foundation for their workplace communication infrastructure. Simply put, this is Microsoft Teams in a nutshell, giving workforces access to a whole suite of integrated services for messaging, conferencing, document sharing, and yes, even phone calls.
Evolve or get left behind
Whether businesses adopt them or not, the reality is that Cloud services are going to change the future of IT. No longer do businesses need to spend millions on hardware maintenance. Now they can utilise scale management and use (and pay for) only what they need when they need it as and when business fluctuates. That is where the sweet spot of cloud lies. It's a complete shift in operational thinking. It's not just picking a piece of hardware and moving it somewhere else. If businesses adapt to this reality, they will begin to access crucial technology mindset that will add value to their business.