How will the cloud change the workplace?

It’s predicted that by the end of 2015, more than 90 percent of government organisations and large businesses will use cloud computing, and the technology is being adopted by firms big and small. Sarah Willis investigates how this will change the way we do business.

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The transition from using out-of-the-box software to cloud-based systems is one of the biggest changes to the workplace in recent years and is already significantly altering working behaviours and data management practices.

Ability to structure data

Whenever a business needs to monitor and use large quantities of data, whether it’s social mentions across the web or fluctuations in global equity and commodity markets, one of the most pressing concerns is structuring the data so it’s easily usable.

Cloud-based technologies allow companies to access sophisticated programmes which can sort and validate vast quantities of data quickly, easily and often at a fraction of the cost of installed software. Suddenly even smaller companies can access powerful tools to help them streamline their data and improve performance across multiple business functions.

Intelligent Administration

For any organisation that manages data, one of the most powerful aspects of cloud-based systems is their capacity for intelligent administration. This enables consistent and reliable collection, verification and tracking of information and, when necessary, efficient reorganisation of data at even granular levels.

This translates as a significantly streamlined data management process and a reduction in internal management costs, freeing up resources to focus on analysing data and taking action. As a result, companies become much more agile and flexible.

Sustainability

Sustainability and environmental responsibility continue to be major trends across business sectors, particularly in the light of new sustainability-focused legislation being introduced in both the EU and USA, as well as in other jurisdictions.

According to Microsoft, migrating to cloud-based applications can reduce organisations’ energy use and carbon footprints by 30 percent. For small businesses, that figure can climb to 70 percent, offering considerable financial and environmental benefits.

Better collaboration

Cloud-based systems make a more flexible and collaborative way of working possible. With an externally hosted program, employees can sign in across a range of devices. This makes it possible to run bring your own device (BYOD) schemes, which are increasingly popular as the rapid evolution of technology often means that people have access to better IT at home than at work.

Research by Deloitte shows a strong correlation between employee engagement and working collaboratively, as well as flexible working practices. Embracing cloud applications makes it much easier to work together, particularly across different offices or locations.

How could this change the workplace?

Agile is a word often used when it comes to enterprises embracing cloud-based applications.

Efficient use of cloud-based systems enables organisations to monitor and respond rapidly to events, whether it’s an issue with a product, a PR opportunity or changing market conditions. In turn, customers and shareholders are likely to start to expect even swifter and more targeted responses, which will penalise those organisations who are not making the most of the cloud.

To thrive, businesses and their employees will need to become early adopters of new technology systems. A willingness to adapt to and learn new ways of working could become an even more significant commercial advantage than it is now, resulting in better relationships with customers, an ability to attract and retain the most desirable employees, reduced operating costs and increased responsiveness.

 is a freelance finance and business writer working out of Brighton.

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  • Scott Jorgensen

    As companies want to attract new talent, those not using cloud technologies to run their business will suffer. Kids coming out of college today have used Facebook, twitter and Instagram for years and have come to expect new functionality available immediately and customizations simplified. Workplace software needs to be agile as described in this article.

    • lyonsdown

      Hi Scott – thanks for reading! How do you think businesses can remain agile in this way while maintaining their reliability?

      • Scott Jorgensen

        I have been writing business software for 27 years, and my biggest challenge was always to put as much control over business processes in the hands of the end user. As users dream it, software should not require a team to build it. Software like Salesforce and Netsuite are examples of agile business software that usher in a new breed of employees.

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