Cloud Computing is Changing the Face of International Business
The field of computing is constantly changing, often so fast that it can be hard for businesses to keep up with the latest thinking and developments. In the early days of IT, companies had banks of hardware – servers, computers, printers – to enable the software actually carrying out the functions needed for word processing, spreadsheets and the like to operate.
Expensive electronic machinery would have a relatively short lifetime until the next development came along, whether it be hardware or software, so the cost of renewing it or falling behind competitors always had to be a feature of future budgets. Although profits could be grown with the right IT equipment, businesses had to choose the right solutions for their own operations.
The development of enterprise resource planning, software that allows departments to share information instantaneously as well as to update information across all linked departments without the need for each part of the business to input new data, gave new scales of economies. Fewer people were needed to deal with manual inputs, freeing them up to help deliver the core business targets.
Streamlining systems not only brought economies of scale but also enabled managers to get a clear picture right across operations, be they financial, human resources, stock control or marketing, to see what was working well and what needed to be looked at in terms of creating better efficiencies. Then along came the cloud.
What is the cloud?
The cloud is the term used when the storage of data and programs and the ability to access everything over the internet instead of a computer’s hard drive becomes part of a business’ modus operandi. It doesn’t mean that hard drives are redundant – yet – because storing data locally gives fast access to it. It’s how everything worked for decades, but cloud computing is a significant game changer in the way that international businesses operate.
As with any new technological advance, it’s not perfect yet, but big business has seen the opportunities and is grasping them as fast as it can.
Buying services, not hardware
The cloud is all about buying or renting services from providers rather than buying large amounts of hardware. Of course, people will still need computers to access the internet and thus cloud services, but they will also be able to get access to data via handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones.
This portable technology allows managers and other employees who need that access to get it effectively instantaneously from any location. For example, those requiring access to ERP can get straight to their system on the cloud. International businesses can link up their various offices throughout the world, helping to drive efficiency and productivity. The exchange of information and knowledge means that operations managers can get constant updates as to how the business is performing.
Cloud for the future
Whenever technology makes rapid advances, there are concerns over issues such as security and the amount of data storage available. Cloud companies constantly address these issues, making cloud computing a major player in the brave new IT world.