While it is generally not advisable for business leaders to have their heads in the cloud, I do tell them to migrate their data there. Cloud computing has been with us since the 1960s, but its commercial popularity only began gaining traction at the dawn of the new millennium. In essence, this internet-based computing allows your business to store and access data from remote servers.
Practically, cloud technology transforms the way a business operates by freeing it from conventional (or “on-premises”) computer networks. The business no longer requires local hardware or software because cloud-based solutions enable it to store, share, and manage its data online. When your business migrates to the cloud, you can improve communication, increase efficiency, and reduce costs across the board.
How Should Businesses Choose a Cloud Technology Provider?
Choosing a cloud provider can seem like a daunting task for small businesses. But the first step is to make sure that your chosen provider uses a secure data center with state-of-the-art security measures. These security measures should include biometrics, encryption, and firewalls.
Next, check whether the provider is certified by industry bodies such as the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) or Information Security Magazine Awards (ISM). These certifications indicate that trusted organizations have vetted the cloud provider’s processes and practices against certain criteria including:
- Availability/durability — Ensuring that all data stored on servers remain available 24/7.
- Integrity — Ensuring that no unauthorized changes are made without authorization.
What Do Businesses Need to Know About Data Security in the Cloud?
The cloud is a shared environment, meaning it is inherently less secure than a private one. And the more people there are accessing data, the increased likelihood of increased opportunities for security breaches.
Cloud service providers regularly upgrade cloud security services to protect their infrastructure. However, your business is responsible for the data it stores.
While cloud networks offer multiple benefits, they do expose your organization to a risk of data loss, data privacy concerns, leaked data, and compliance issues. If your business deals with sensitive customer or employee information — such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account information, or medical records — you will need to take extra precautions and make sure that your data is being stored in countries where there are strong legal protections against privacy breaches.
Tips for Reducing the Cost of Cloud Technology
Cloud services are typically offered as a subscription. Your business will pay a monthly fee for access to specific infrastructure and applications via the internet. Cloud providers frequently offer different tiers of service with varying levels of performance or storage capacity at different prices. This makes it possible for businesses with limited budgets to get precisely what they need without having to invest heavily upfront or commit to long-term contracts.
The cloud technology that will best meet your organization’s needs depends on the size of your business, the complexity of your operations, and the budget you have allocated for cloud-based services. These factors determine whether a public or private cloud is better suited for your organization’s needs. For example, a public cloud offers greater flexibility but typically comes with a higher price tag attached.
How to Approach Digital Transformation via Cloud Technology
As a business leader, it can be easy to get excited about the digital transformation your organization can achieve through cloud technology. As with any new technology, however, you will only experience its benefits with a strategic rollout and intentional change management.
When I see technology products fail, it is generally not the technology’s fault — it is the fault of leaders who failed to deploy it correctly. To succeed, you must arm your employees with the knowledge, skills, and motivation they need to implement cloud solutions in their daily tasks.
First, prepare your employees for cloud migration, since they need to feel comfortable with their part in migrating data and applications to the cloud. Ensure that they feel secure about their data’s safety and that they know what happens during this process.
Transitioning to cloud technology impacts workplace culture and processes. Before migrating onto a public or private cloud platform, discuss the changes employees can expect, thoroughly train them in the new software, and be ready to mitigate issues if they arise.
Successful change management means motivating employees with the benefits they can expect. First, cloud technology makes your employees more efficient by allowing them to eliminate manual tasks and automate processes. For the business as a whole, this automation and increased efficiency save resources and money. Automation has the additional benefit of reducing the risk of human error.
Cloud solutions also benefit your employees by improving communication across your entire organization. With your data and processes in the cloud, sharing information across divisions or departments becomes far easier, and increased connectivity leads to less confusion and more productivity throughout the organization overall. Everyone knows what they are working on and why they are doing it. The enhanced collaboration available through cloud tools allows your employees to connect seamlessly and take part in hybrid or remote work.
Finally, cloud technology enables businesses to reduce costs. Companies with limited IT budgets can access advanced technologies at a fraction of the cost of maintaining their own infrastructure. Because cloud solutions eliminate the need for expensive hardware like servers, you will see savings in reduced maintenance costs, repairs, and energy consumption. Your business may even choose to boost motivation by putting some of that savings toward employee appreciation and recognition.
Cloud technology has been with us for decades and continues to gain in popularity. Though it is not without potential pitfalls, its benefits can far outweigh its risks. When your business takes time to deploy the technology properly and puts appropriate emphasis on security, you can expect cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved communication.