Cloud computing is heating up big time in the Australian business world. Many business leaders are seriously considering the competitive advantage of cloud computing and plotting to migrate their data and apps to SaaS and public cloud vendors.
And guess what?
The Business Software Alliance reported that Australia was the second-most prepared nation for cloud technologies, while Forrester Research stated that the public cloud market in Australia will grow from $732 million in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2020. Not bad huh?
What are the popular uses of cloud computing?
Most Australian companies follow the same cautious pattern when adopting cloud technology, beginning with messaging, collaboration and CRM applications, before moving into field service applications and human capital management (HCM). However, cloud ERP is catching on rather slowly as companies are still touchy about storing financial and operational data outside company walls.
Australian businesses see public cloud services as an agile tool for never-seen-before levels of scalability and flexibility. Take customer profiling and behavioural data for example. These are a perfect fit for the cloud, where sales reps can access a frequently updated store of customer insight from any location.
Plus, with self-service websites growing in popularity, customers can easily view order history, conduct transactions and learn more about relevant offerings from the company.
What are the business gains from cloud computing?
Reduced IT costs take the crown here. Upfront capital investment on software licenses and hardware is eliminated; expensive maintenance goes straight out the window and not forgetting that updates and upgrades that come with on-premise systems are done away with, just like that.
Surprisingly though, cost avoidance is low-hanging fruit for companies making notable investments in the cloud.
With a reliable cloud partner, the company becomes way more versatile. The CEO can quickly and easily adapt the infrastructure to respond to a new business opportunity or scale back support where they no longer need it. SaaS applications also enable companies to standardise and adopt new business processes hence enabling them to handle their customers better.
Cloud technology has allowed many companies to develop systems that meet regulatory requirements for data collection and distribution. Take the example of a large construction company with a multi-step process for bidding on new work. Normally, the account managers use spreadsheets and other manual processes to keep the ball rolling, the problem is that this is quite prone to errors and delays are common.
With a SaaS application for sales, the company can streamline and centralise the workflow through an online portal, where parties can submit, review and sign off on documents. Employees can also use social and document collaboration tools such as Salesforce Chatter or Google Drive to solicit real-time feedback about questions relating to the project bid.
Product and service innovation is yet another gain from the cloud. Have you heard the story of Hire-a-Hubby, the handyman franchise service? The company gives its handymen mobile devices installed with Salesforce Service Cloud. From the field, workers can complete job detail forms, transmitting customer and project data back to the home office, and chat in real-time with colleagues when they have questions about a task. This saves time on manual data entry, reduces errors and helps deliver excellent results for the customer.