When it first started, “the cloud” wasn’t even really thought of as “the cloud.” In fact, there wasn’t really any kind of name for it. It was just part of the internet. I’m talking, of course, of webmail, and specifically, Hotmail: that first cloud service, before there was a cloud. The idea to store all relevant information centrally flowed naturally from the internet, indeed, the concept of the cloud is built into its architecture. You can’t have one without the other. But it’s only in the past few years, with the rapid advance of bandwidth and the ability to download massive files almost instantly, that the phenomenon of “cloud technology” has really taken off and made an impact. And what an impact it has made!
Indeed, a survey last year revealed that around 84% of companies use at least one cloud-based application. Cloud services enable people and businesses to use powerful computing resources, allow us to share files, logins, use various software suites, work from different locations, and many other things. New companies are innovating new things to do with the cloud every day. But what has all of this innovation done for us?
Time. In a word, cloud technology has given businesses time. Time to do what they actually do, time to focus on their core business, and not administrative tasks surrounding it. Indeed, in a different light, cloud technology is just a way of outsourcing peripheral tasks to other companies: in this case, cloud services providers, It’s the information technology equivalent of handing your important delivery to FedEx instead of personally driving it to its intended destination yourself, and, when all goes well, it will go just as smoothly.
Any technology that allows a non-tech company to avoid spending time and resources hiring IT managers and advanced technicians is bound to be appreciated. Cloud technology has allowed companies to streamline their businesses and payrolls, devolving administration and small details to outside services and focusing on their core business. Because cloud services are updated all the time from a central location, upgrade cycles are now also nonexistent, which means that legacy problems will be largely eliminated after switching to cloud services. One can imagine a world where other non-core services like receptionists, customer service, finance, and even HR are also relegated to cloud-based services instead of actual employees.
Cloud services have also drastically reduced overhead and start-up costs for new companies. In the 1990s, a new company might have to invest tens of thousands in new computers, servers, and other technology before they even got off the ground. Now companies can instead choose to subscribe to a small, scalable cloud-based service for a predictable monthly fee instead of a huge down payment. It’s directly comparable to the decision a person faces when deciding between renting and buying a home, and the long-term advantages and disadvantages are equally debatable.
This huge reduction in startup costs has enabled newcomers to compete with established players with vastly larger resources. A small company, with its accompanying efficiency advantages and the aforementioned vastly reduced overhead costs, is able to compete with some of the biggest companies in the world. With cloud-based technology, startup companies don’t even necessarily need to be located in a physical office, further reducing overhead costs for infant companies.
Cloud technology has subtly yet completely revolutionized technology industries, and the ripples of this transformation are still spreading through the larger economy. The limit of this information transformation, if one exists at all, remains to be seen. The time has come to closely examine all of your businesses processes and determine which can be transferred to the cloud. The results may surprise you.
*This is a sponsored post written by Nick Rojas
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.