Four Ways You Can Leverage the Cloud for Business
Is your company still hosting all of its applications on in-house servers or in a traditional data center environment? If you’re not investigating the viability of moving at least a portion of your digital services to the cloud, you’re stifling the growth potential of your business. These are just a few of the many benefits that using the cloud could bring to your company.
Leverage the Cloud for Business and Reduce Your IT Costs
Running an enterprise application on an in-house server can inflate your company’s IT budget and tax its resources unnecessarily. Managing your own servers gives you complete control over an application. It also means that you’ll have to budget for:
- Power and cooling
- Server hardware and network infrastructure
- Periodic hardware upgrades and replacements for failed components
- Time spent downloading and installing software updates
- Backup equipment and media
- Secure off-site storage for backups
Running the same application from a traditional data center eliminates some of those expenses — but not all of them. If you need more powerful hardware or greater network capacity, you’ll need to pay the company hosting your application for those upgrades — even if you only need those enhanced capabilities occasionally to handle brief spikes in demand.
Running enterprise software as a cloud-based service eliminates all of the expenses above. Additionally, it reduces them to a single subscription fee. The cloud provider handles data backups, hardware upgrades, software updates and network management behind the scenes. When you need greater computing power or network capacity, the cloud provider allocates it to you automatically. You pay only for the resources that you actually use.
Data Center Knowledge estimates that moving a service to the cloud would reduce your costs associated with operating that service by as much as 43 percent.
Give Customers a Consistent Experience With Centralized Content Management
Does your company interact with customers over multiple channels? It’s likely that you utilize many of these touch points:
- An official website
- A mobile application
- Email marketing
- Social media profiles
- In-store kiosks or other Internet-connected devices
Do you structure each customer engagement channel as a separate silo that can’t share data with other channels? If so, you’re missing out on the benefits that true omnichannel integration can provide. According to Business 2 Community, omnichannel integration more than doubles customer retention and drastically increases the average lifetime value of a customer.
A centralized content management system that delivers content over all of your company’s sales and marketing channels is an essential part of providing a consistent experience. Your CMS follows customers from their PCs to their smartphones and carries through to their in-store visits. A centralized CMS can also easily outstrip the computing power of a single server or the network capacity of a traditional data center. That’s why there is no better way to deliver omnichannel content than by using the cloud.
Harness the Power of Machine Learning Without Taxing In-House Servers
Do you still think of big data as the sole domain of the world’s largest corporations? Recent innovations have made it possible for small and medium businesses to use the cloud and gain access to transformative business intelligence. With the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities of the cloud, you can collect the wealth of data that your prospects and customers provide to your company every day — and use it to create truly special experiences.
When you use the cloud for centralized omnichannel content management, you’ll naturally want to integrate your CMS with an analytics solution to capture customer interaction data. Customers interact with your company in an endless variety of ways:
- Viewing and clicking advertisements
- Discussing your company and sharing your content on social media
- Visiting your website and viewing or buying products
- Adding products to wish lists
- Reading your email campaigns and clicking links
- Buying products in stores and taking advantage of loyalty programs
Capturing every customer interaction generates a massive amount of unstructured data that might make little sense to human analysts. However, business intelligence software can look at that data and determine exactly what your customers want. You can use customer interaction data to personalize website content, email campaigns, in-store experiences and more. You can create experiences tailored to the needs and desires of individual customers. However, big data analysis and granular personalization are only possible with the massive computing power that the cloud provides.
Does personalization really work? Your competitors think so. According to CMO by Adobe, 94 percent of marketers are either implementing or planning to implement personalization features right now.
Use the Cloud to Protect Your Business From Cyberattacks
What is your business’s stance on cybersecurity? If you’re trying to muddle through and hoping that a hacker won’t target you, you’re doing it wrong. Rather than wondering whether your business will experience a cyberattack this year, you need to have a plan in place detailing how you will handle the attack that inevitably will occur. According to CNBC, half of the small businesses in the United States suffered cyberattacks in 2016 alone.
The single best thing that your business can do to protect itself from cyberattacks is to move as many services as possible to the cloud right now. How is moving to the cloud a good defense? Let’s look at how the cloud handles the four most common types of cyberattacks:
- Direct hacker intrusions: The best security software uses artificial intelligence to detect and flag suspicious user activity. Although direct hacking of a cloud data center is virtually impossible, a successful intrusion would immediately generate an alert within the cloud provider’s security department.
- Malicious software: Cloud-based services aren’t vulnerable to malware because they run as virtualized instances. Most virtualized instances use application whitelisting policies. This means that malicious software can’t run because it isn’t on the approved list of software. Even if it were possible to make malware run in a virtualized instance, it would only crash the instance — not the underlying hardware. Restarting the instance would instantly remove the infection.
- Ransomware: Ransomware uses encryption to disable access to files on a computer. It then demands that the victim pay a ransom to restore access to the encrypted files. If you have a backup of the infected computer, there’s no need to pay the ransom — you can simply erase the computer’s hard drive and restore the backup. If you don’t have a backup, though, the effects of a ransomware infection can be catastrophic. The cloud provides unlimited storage space — and the necessary software — to automatically back up all of the files on every computer in your organization.
- Denial-of-service attacks: A denial-of-service attack disables access to a website or Internet-based service by overwhelming it with requests from infected computers and devices around the world. Crippling a single server with a DoS attack is trivial, but crippling an entire cloud data center requires more resources than most hackers can muster. If a hacker did manage to disable a data center with a DoS attack, the cloud provider could seamlessly transfer its operations to another data center elsewhere in the world. There would be little — if any — interruption.
Moving to the cloud for business doesn’t just reduce your company’s IT expenses. It also allows your staff to focus less of their energy on security and more of it on what they do best — keeping your company’s core revenue generators running efficiently.
Ready to talk about using the cloud for business? Adworkz is ready to help with all aspects of developing custom software solutions.