If you can keep up, the cloud is all silver linings

By Deon Geyser, CEO Liquid Intelligent Technologies South Africa

If you don’t believe cloud is one of the greatest catalysts to business evolution in our generation, then you haven’t been paying close enough attention. It is quite literally the quickest and most efficient to link your products and services to the market. Cloud is the next generation of business brilliance and if you’re not in front of this movement then you’re stuck in the back, leaking value.

Don’t believe me? Think about this. 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 very institutions that are leading the way for cloud adoption – quickly shedding the burden of IT cost and entering a new world of process and cost efficiency.

The mainframes these organisations painstakingly set up 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 hand-in-hand with OEMs, including IBM, Microsoft and others, end-to-end managed services businesses, and trusted advisors and connectors like Liquid Intelligent Technologies to determine the best cloud-driven solution to suit their needs.

And it’s not just financial services. Large telecoms, mobile operators and retailers are all well on their way to adopting a cloud-centric future. If these seemingly implacable sectors are making the change, there has got to be one massive bonfire to go with all that smoke.

The catalysts for change

Before a global pandemic completely shifted the way we thought about remote operations, we were already seeing the likes of Microsoft fundamentally changing the way we use services. Many businesses would have noticed that Microsoft was pushing new customers away from on-prem licenses and nudging them towards cloud-based solutions. The prolific nature of these products (i.e. office 365) meant that Microsoft was in a position to shift the landscape, and shift it they did.

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 completely 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 little 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, we know it is generally an iterative process and not everything can (or even should) happen at once. If have begun 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. All of these can and should be easily integrated into the cloud.

Where historically this would require intensive system and hardware integration, cloud services brings the benefit of integrating these services a lot quicker and 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.

Now, as an enterprise make the move to the cloud, it can have the same tools and capabilities that they would have at the office. At Liquid Intelligent Technologies, we have even partnered with Microsoft to implement something we call OneVoice for Operator Connect, allowing businesses to take their core telephone infrastructure and directly integrate it into the Microsoft Teams environment. Now you only need a single application to provide all the collaboration tools you need.

Evolve or get left behind

Whether you adopt them or not, the reality is that cloud services are going to fundamentally change the future of IT. No longer do you need to spend millions on hardware maintenance. Now you can utilise scale management and use (and pay for) only what you need when you need it as and when your 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. It is the utilisation of what these cloud services can actually bring as they are fully integrated into one’s operations

Once you get going, you will begin to adopt and access a crucial technology mind set. Cloud services is but a single step on this journey to economic liberation. There is a wide world of untapped opportunity in a business above the cloud and this is where business are already going. The question is: will it be you or your competitor that seizes this opportunity first?

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