There’s no doubt the adoption of cloud computing is increasing. The latest research from Gartner shows the market for cloud services is predicted to surge to $208.6 billion by the end of 2016, up from $178 billion in 2015.
In Australia, an estimated 76% of businesses are utilising cloud computing (StollzNow Research), with 46% of non-cloud users planning to engage cloud services in the future.
Innovations in cloud computing are also trending upwards. The technology around cloud computing today is far superior to what was available just five years ago, particularly in the areas of security, ease of use, scalability and adaptability.
Cloud computing has gone beyond the initial realm of data storage and SaaS. It is now fuelling innovation in software development, enabling companies to achieve greater efficiency and productivity and is transforming the IT industry.
Here are the top cloud trends for 2017 that SMEs need to pay attention to.
1. The decline in on-premise servers
An increasing number of businesses are moving their entire IT environment to the cloud, including files, email and applications – all accessed through cloud desktop platforms, resulting in a decline in businesses investing in on-premise servers.
What’s driving this trend is the reluctance from business leaders to continue to invest in costly IT infrastructure that requires ongoing maintenance and upgrades. Simply going out and buying servers and then on-boarding them, provisioning them and then turning them over down the line to do it all again, just does not make business sense. Dependency on staff and the cost to maintain them puts businesses at the mercy of their availability and knowledge. Whereby going to the cloud eradicates this.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is certainly an area where automation is happening. Having everything under one roof in the cloud make this very efficient and easy to implement. Automation is being driven by the introduction of new breed Workflow Management tools. These used to be expensive to implement but cloud has allowed them to become a lot more affordable for SMEs.
For instance, businesses that have a mobile workforce, or even trucks or delivery vehicles, have the ability to ensure they take the most efficient routes using smarter technology. When they arrive on premise they have access to all their business tools they need to complete the task, meaning that invoicing is done on the spot.
The whole process from customer satisfaction through to ensuring the goods or services have been invoiced, can now be completely automated. This technology is now quicker and cheaper, and also more secure thanks to private cloud providers.
3. Business dashboards
While business dashboard tools have been around for some time, they have tended to be costly and difficult to implement and were used mostly by large organisations. Now because of cloud technology, SMEs have access to these tools.
Apart from workflow management tools helping businesses become more efficient, having a snapshot via a dashboard of your business helps leaders to make decisions more effectively. Being able to drill down on any alerts via the dashboard and making the applicable changes without the guesswork is differentiating the successful businesses.
There is much more to cloud computing than just using Dropbox or Google Docs. For SMEs cloud computing is allowing more sophisticated business tools to become more accessible. It is also helping businesses to streamline operations and IT costs so they can dedicate more resources to mission critical tasks.
About the author
Andrew Tucker is the CEO of ITonCloud, a hosting service providing practical Cloud Computing solutions for small and medium businesses.