The cloud as a revenue generator – is cloud the next generation growth catalyst?
What do business owners, who are not technically inclined, think of when they hear the phrase Cloud Computing? Some think of the cloud as an affordable way of integrating next generation technology with their business; a section of owners look at it as a much needed addition to their existing IT framework; there might be plenty of others who look at the cloud as a means of increasing top-line revenue.

If we take a closer look at all these reasons, one commonality stands out – Most businesses think of cloud as a revenue generator. Whatever their immediate reasons for adopting the cloud, they are looking at this technology as a means of driving revenue; and for good reason. The inherent nature of cloud computing makes it a growth catalyst.

So the question is – why has cloud earned a reputation for being a driver of growth? Or are we expecting too much from it. Let’s take a look:

Product Development
One of the ways the cloud helps generate revenue is by fuelling product development. An extremely instructive 2014 North Bridge Future of Cloud Computing Survey put the number of businesses using the cloud for revenue generation or product development at 49%. These businesses have the right expectations from the cloud as it definitely acts as a facilitator of product development.

By using cloud for product development, the need to maintain expensive, high maintenance enterprise level tools on-premise goes out of the window. At the same time, you don’t have to worry whether you’ll get access to the latest technology. If you sign up for managed cloud services, you get upgrades, patches, and everything else needed to develop a cutting-edge product conveniently and seamlessly.

Whether it’s internal collaboration activities, idea sharing, gathering feedback, or delivering product updates, the cloud helps you address all activities tied in directly with a product lifecycle.

Explore Newer Markets
One big reason why a particular business experiences strategic growth and another doesn’t is the former’s ability to tap into previously untapped high-growth markets.

Now, exploring new markets is fraught with challenges. You’ll need to tweak your business to suit the local tastes vis-à-vis the consumer, hire a skilled local workforce, battle local competition and do a whole lot more to make an impression on a new target audience.

The disruptive nature of cloud technology means it has the ability to trigger a fundamental shift in business.

Not many businesses have the flexibility required to leverage the potential of unexplored markets for their business. This was until the arrival of the Cloud. An insightful article on CIO titled Cloud-based Ecommerce Platforms Give Retailers Global Flexibility, discusses how Clairns, a French cosmetic company optimised the use of the cloud through cloud-based eCommerce platforms to target the rapidly growing Chinese consumer market. This is just one example of how cloud gives businesses the flexibility to grow in new markets.

This, as can be imagined, boosts revenue.

Cloud Simplifies
Astute businesses have used cloud as a growth driver by simplifying internal processes, whether its human resources, marketing or customer support. They’ve also improved access to resources like storage etc. which has led to better collaboration amongst employees. This has gone a long way in improving a business’s process efficiency and performance. The ability to access, share, analyse and take action on relevant data gets a huge fillip, courtesy the cloud.

The fact is if you move certain processes/systems/applications to the cloud, somebody else is doing a major portion of the operational work for you. You’ll find this will give your business more scope to grow, which brings us to our next point, agility.

Business on Steroids
What separates the best business from the rest from the revenue generation point of view?

It is agility.

Agility is a nebulous term that could mean the capacity of businesses to quickly adapt to changing market conditions. It could also refer to their ability to create products faster. Agility could also mean the capability to market a product faster, or even innovate quickly. If there is an HR guy reading this, for him, ability can mean faster recruitment. The way you can describe business agility is different and will mean different things at different points of time during a business’s journey.

While it might have various meanings, there is no doubt that agility delivers business growth and according to a Harvard Business Review Survey, 41% of businesses have adopted the cloud because of its ability to make them more Agile.

How you define agility depends on you. If you’re running an eCommerce business, agility could probably mean your ability to respond to customer feedback faster. If it’s a product development company, agility could mean faster updates or debugging.

The key here is finding out how you can use the cloud to speed up business functioning as a whole. For this to happen, you need to understand the cloud and I am talking about really understanding its depths. Investing in a CIO will help. If you want to optimise the use of the cloud, hiring an expert is the first step, everything else will follow.

Cloud and Growth
Think of a situation where you’ve been operating in a business niche for a really long time, but growth has been stagnant; your inability to reach out to a mass market has worn off your competitive edge. You are staring at business redundancy.

Enter the cloud.

Your pick a cloud platform or two and choose from a smorgasbord of plug-in services available on the cloud, and voila, you will soon find your business competing with the big boys in your niche. The disruptive nature of cloud technology means it has the ability to trigger a fundamental shift in how your business functions. This is how it has been driving revenue generation for businesses, and will continue to do so in the future.

There is absolutely no doubt if you want to accelerate business growth and at the same time keep costs under control, there is no escaping the Cloud.

Chief Customer Officer, Agiliron

Stan Roach is the Chief Customer Officer at Agiliron, a SaaS solution provider for Omni-channel commerce. He has over 30 years of experience with a track record of launching several B2C and B2B software products. Feel free to reach out to him at [email protected].

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