The cloud: from lockdown savior to future-growth platform
2020 has seen a rapid shift in the way we work. Due to Covid-19, many previously office-bound employees and their IT staff are now working remotely, and this brings its own advantages, and challenges.
During 2020, cloud services have rapidly become the go-to storage and communication solution for many SMEs and an increasing amount of bigger operators, offering them access to previously inaccessible enterprise-class services. These solutions are more secure, flexible, and affordable than before; an additional benefit, especially for SMEs. It is therefore not surprising that as remote workers have adapted to using the cloud, it is transforming from an emergency solution into an everyday one, enabling growth in previously unforeseen ways.
- Cloud services allow more flexibility for off-site staff who can access these services whenever/wherever they need to (no more banging on the office door at odd hours trying to get to your hot seat when working on flexi-time).
- One of the biggest advantages of using the cloud is being able to grow your business quickly and cost-effectively by adding more remote workers who use their own laptops/mobile devices, without having the on-site overheads (office rentals, equipment, hardware, maintenance-heavy servers, etc.). Remote users can utilise the devices they have at hand, while being able to increase their computer power when necessary.
- Collaboration tools on the cloud make it far easier for staff to work remotely, while still staying in contact and maintaining the same level of work that can be achieved at an on-site desktop. Cloud-based video-conferencing services, such as Zoom and Microsoft teams saw a huge upswing in users during the lockdown period, and these enable easy communication with other staff members.
- The cloud also makes it easy to get IT support staff on the platform and make them available to assist when needed.
Its versatility means that the cloud keeps staff connected and provides the resources they need, but IT teams need to ensure the safety of information and documents that are used, and with more and more businesses jumping head-first into the cloud in 2020, it can be a challenge. With the right security protocols implemented (such as user permissions and data encryption), this issue is becoming easier to address.
Adopting the cloud during hard lockdown not only saved many local businesses, large and small, but has also brought certain benefits that can be enjoyed in the future. McKinsey gives an example where a South African business process outsourcing (BPO) SME used a virtual private network (VPN) to migrate their systemsto a custom-designed platform that was easily adaptable to suit their present (and future) needs. As a result of using the VPN, most of their call centers could be moved to remote working within five days, and the rest, which were not needed due to reduced demand, could be used to create new business generated as a result of the pandemic (backing a state initiative spreading awareness about Covid-19 prevention). By quickly adopting cloud technology to enable remote working, the SME could not only survive lockdown, but also created scope to build future business.
A recent study has shown that working remotely has in many cases also improved productivity.
With its ease-of-use, and its cost-effective, powerful platforms, as well as increased security, the cloud is sure to be the cornerstone of IT infrastructure in the future. As more businesses embrace remote working through the cloud, new benefits and opportunities will continue to reveal themselves.
A managed IT services company like Castlerock will be able to assist with reducing costs, and increasing productivity while ensuring better security and stability when using cloud services, ensuring a smooth transition to this beneficial platform.