Powering Productivity: Making Cloud the Engine of a Modern Workforce

Optimising productivity is the key imperative for any business of scale in today’s hyper-competitive landscape which is why companies are always seeking the ability to achieve maximum results from the minimum level of resources. Cloud technology is the key to unlocking unprecedented levels of productivity in today’s workplaces and ultimately building a sustainable competitive advantage.

Traditional IT infrastructure was once the answer to optimising workplace productivity.

In-house data servers and their associated support teams single-handedly powered everything from email servers to document storage and even the CRM that was so vital for managing customer interactions and data. In years past, companies marvelled at incremental improvements in workplace productivity brought on by large scale investments in their in-house IT infrastructure.

A business would upgrade their servers to ensure that email servers could run the latest software, or that their internal storage could hold more data. If a company had more than one office or multiple departments, they could invest further in setting up large and expensive networks between each siloed location, simply to allow access to the same information.

Such a significant outlay in capital is unfortunately often still seen simply as the cost of doing business and the associated staffing costs are seen as a vital necessity for “keeping the lights on” in terms of ensuring that the system works consistently. Many organisations also continue to rely almost exclusively on face-to-face meetings in order to collaborate on projects and staff continue to rely on cumbersome internal servers and networks to communicate with customers and each other.

Digital transformation is now democratising the business world as start-ups are disrupting traditional industries at a startling pace. This transformation is being spurred on by a decreasing reliance on physical assets. Uber has revolutionised the transport industry without owning a single vehicle. Airbnb is now valued at $30 billion without owning a single hotel. Netflix is now the preferred method for watching movies and they don’t own cinemas or manufacture DVDs.

This same digital transformation is changing the way that organisations structure their operations and the way their employees work, as they’re now recognising the potential of moving their IT infrastructure into the cloud.

Organisations are realising they have to become more digitally aligned in their focus as anything in the physical world is going to come with a digital footprint.

1. Breaking down silos

Silos, departments and office buildings have long been the way that organisations organise themselves and all of these have tended to be tethered to ageing IT infrastructure. Collaboration is the key to completing successful projects and it’s therefore vital that everyone within a business is able to access the same data, whenever they need it. Productivity grinds to a halt when teams and business units can’t easily access the data they need to complete everyday tasks.

Research by Harvard Business Review revealed that 72% of businesses globally list collaboration as a key benefit of cloud technology as their organisation’s use of cloud has made it easier to collaborate with colleagues. Forrester research has shown that 42% of global businesses investing in cloud based communications infrastructure are doing so to better collaborate between offices, as well as with business partners and clients.

2. Increased mobility

Organisations are becoming less defined by the spaces they inhabit as they are by the work they do. Where the ability to complete certain tasks once relied on access to personal computers on a desk, connected via cables to the internet, today’s employees are able to operate in nearly any location on earth, thanks to advancements in mobile technology and the cloud.

Workplace trends such as telecommuting and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mean they can now work from anywhere so it’s essential that organisations are providing the cloud software and tools for these mobile employees to be able to access vital data and collaborate with colleagues. CITO Research shows that using cloud technology to increase employee mobility leads to 30% better processes and 23% more productivity.

3. Engaging the next generation

Millennials, the generation defined as being born between the early 80s and the early 2000s, are predicted to make up more than half of the world’s workforce by the year 2020. One of the defining characteristics of this younger generation of workers is they have a far greater affinity with technology than their older colleagues, as technology has played a much larger role in every aspect of their life, right from early childhood.

This generation of employees demand the organisations they work for to keep pace with technological change in order for them to contribute to their full potential. Research conducted by Microsoft on their views towards the workplace found that millennials demand adequate technology to do their jobs, and almost all respondents (93 percent) said the latest technology was important in choosing an employer. The same survey revealed that a third of respondents noted editing or reviewing documents as their top challenge when working from a mobile device, illustrating how crucial cloud software and technology is for these workers.

Cloud and hybrid cloud are fast becoming the new normal in terms of business technology, as more companies are seeing the benefits of moving their operations away from traditional IT infrastructure. While greater productivity is a key driving force behind their decision, increased innovation, improved data analysis and exponentially better security are also key factors. Ultimately, the choice to move to the cloud is really a matter of when, not if, as the potential benefits are simply too numerous to ignore.

This blog was originally published by Shane on LinkedIn here.