bigdata-weatherProbably one of the most mind-boggling innovations of the last decade was the implementation of cloud-computing which since its inception has revolutionized the world of information technology.

This versatile, cost-reducing and profit-churning technology has now become a necessity for any business – be it small or large – that wishes to stay ahead of the competition. Here is how you can use cloud computing in your business to gain and sustain an edge over your competitors:

  1. Allows informed decision-making via data analytics:

Cloud offers a data integration layer that does not require labor-intensive extraction, transfer and loading (ETL) procedures and also enables you to swiftly apply analytics across multiple sources of data.

This can be done via specialized IT Managed services  that can extract data from on-premise systems and integrate them with proprietary and public data sources in order to yield helpful insights; a capability that was impossible prior to the advent of cloud.

Moreover, cloud technology eliminates the need for lengthy record-keeping as it enables you to instantly log information in your online database which is then available for instantaneous retrieval.

This real-time access to data allows you to make informed decisions and also paves the way for big data analytics which enable you to identify critical trends and leverage them to improve your offering and increase operational efficiency.

Cloud-based accounting software can also allow you to effectively evaluate, monitor and manage your current financial standing as well as secure your company’s future via accurate long-term projections.

  1. Timely update of software:

Desktop software and IT programs require updates that are costly and manual thereby reducing their financial and operational feasibility. The reason for this is that most corporations go for annual updates meaning that for a considerable number of months they have to settle for sub-optimal or faulty systems and software.

Cloud-based software, however, are much more flexible in this regard with a vast majority of them including automatic updates in their subscription model. This makes it more cost-effective and saves you from working with outdated software or having to fork out for additional functionality.

  1. Improved communication:

Cloud enables real-time sharing of information across team members, clients and vendors allowing for streamlining of business processes. It also allows you to expand your operations to the farthest corners of the planet owing to the fact that all that is required to stay connected is internet connectivity.

This increases your business’ mobility by allowing you to manage remote teams as effectively as on-site teams. Cloud computing also allows you to use multiple devices to keep your teams engaged and informed.

This specific functionality is particularly important for marketing teams that need to keep a close eye on the progress of their campaigns and keep a finger on the market’s  pulse.

  1. Enhanced disaster recovery and information security:

With cloud computing, all business information is stored one a single online platform. This means that you need not worry about losing data in case your office systems get corrupted.

Cloud technology also eliminates the need for expensive on-site and off-site back up systems as it offers multiple in-built redundancies that detect system malfunction and automatically prompts other systems to take up the slack.

This ensures that your online business processes keep running flawlessly. Moreover, cloud computing also allows you to manage your data remotely so that you can instantly erase confidential data from devices such as laptops mobile phones, tablets, etc that go missing.

Trusted cloud also offer automatic security updates of all virtual machines and servers as per the policies set by you. In addition to this, you can establish a site recovery plan by automating the replication of workloads and virtual machines so that your cloud server can act as your recovery site. You can also automate the recovery of services for situations where your primary data source faces as outage and run a secondary data center as a recovery site.

  1. Develop and host mobile and website applications:

Cloud servers allow you to develop customized apps that can track your company’s customer relationship management, revenue per customer, enterprise resource planning among other things. These apps can also conduct predictive analysis by tapping into data that is stored on your cloud server in order to help you make informed and forward-looking decisions.

In addition to website applications, cloud also allows you to design mobile applications that can be linked to your website. These apps provide your employees real-time information about customer behavior and also allow them to use data analytics to develop more personalized and targeted campaigns and notifications.

Moreover by using both web and mobile apps, you can offer a more holistic service to your customers while capitalizing on a growing base of customers that rely on mobile devices for researching and purchasing products.

  1. Use internet of things to engage customers:

The ability of IoT to collect big data via cloud can help you transform your business. The reason for this is that customers nowadays expect a great deal from the products that they buy and therefore it is imperative that businesses offer products that are smarter, more useful and connected.

You can use IoT to build intelligent systems to generate useful insights that are capable of driving your organization’s objectives forward. This can be done by installing sensors in your product(s) and then use them to record and transmit data to your cloud server about customer behavior and preferences. You can also merge real-time processing with big data in order to engage your customers.

  1. Save cost by virtualizing your equipment:

More and more companies are shifting to virtual versions of operating systems, computer hardware, computer network resources and storage devices in order to increase productivity and reduce costs.

Doing so will allow you to increase your computer capacity without spending money on acquiring physical infrastructure. It will also facilitate ease of management, increases your operational flexibility and application availability, optimize hardware utilization, simplify licensing, reduce energy costs and will allow your enterprise to grow at an accelerated pace.

Moreover, virtualization will also enable you to respond quickly to IT challenges while having the option of scaling additional resources as and when needed.

The benefits of cloud mentioned above make this technology essential for businesses of all sizes. It could help your business gain a sustainable competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving global economy.

The post is by Audrey Throne, a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from university of Birmingham. Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.