As the managing director of a cloud migration company, I admit to being a bit biased towards working in the cloud.  Believe me; I get it, the whole thing sounds exotic, complex, risky and something that only tech companies should do.  My mother reacted with horror when I told her what I do – until I asked her how she liked her online banking – she loves it: “so fast and easy and convenient”.  So for over ten years she has trusted the cloud with every financial transaction but is horrified by the thought of her emails being held in the cloud!

It is a commonplace today for businesses to migrate emails, calendars, files and sometimes archives to the cloud to offset the cost of maintaining on-premises hardware.  These technologies are seen as a commodity with employees appearing not to care how they view their emails and files, just so long as they’re accessible whenever they’re required.

Migrating to the cloud is now a relatively simple process with many customers worldwide even opting to self-migrate using the specialised and simple-to-use software.  The days of complex 11-month projects with a huge number of migration workshops and onerous project management fees are long gone – although many consulting companies still have a vested interest in making moving to the cloud sound much more difficult than it has to be.

We have witnessed a major upswing in migrations to the cloud. Many SMEs are now starting to migrate all their files and emails, mid-size businesses are overcoming their initial fears over security and data sovereignty, and the majority of large companies are already in the cloud to one extent or another but looking at options for moving between cloud providers, for example, moving from Google Cloud to Office 365.  Migrating to the cloud can bring about many benefits including enhanced workplace productivity for businesses of all sizes and types – here are just a few examples:

Connections anytime, anywhere

A properly planned move to the cloud should provide a simple, secure and cost-effective way for all employees to connect to company resources from any device, anywhere on the planet – freeing your workforce from being tied to a local network in company offices.  For many, travelling nationally and often internationally every week can be commonplace. Therefore operating out of a huge range of airports, offices, hotels and coffee shops safely and easily is critical. A clear cloud usage policy in place ensures employees are clear on guidelines for usage and productivity is boosted.

An extension of this is the freedom to work on any device from anywhere.  The increasing acceptance of Bring your Device (BYOD) as a business policy enables employees to access their work data and work on a platform they are familiar with.  Research suggests that this policy has many key benefits such as improved job satisfaction, increased flexibility and increased morale.  The company also benefits from lower training costs, reduced hardware costs and a more flexible workforce.  However, it must be pointed out that a strong data protection policy must be in place with clearly defined BYOD usage guidelines covering topics such as device security, data encryption, data monitoring and other data protection risks.  With a bit of planning and a sensible usage policy, BYOD offers real tangible benefits to both employees and the company, enabling both to fully experience the undoubted benefits of the cloud. 

Extended team of IT troubleshooters

Another joy of cloud-based working is the fact that any IT problems encountered are the problem of one of the few very large specialist cloud organisations.  In the unusual event of something going wrong, you can bet that a large team of specialists will be working on the problem immediately and will keep working until the issue has been resolved. No longer will you have to wait for in-house IT to help you sort the issue.

[easy-tweet tweet=”In the cloud, the latest update security measures are instantly at companies’ fingertips” hashtags=”Cloud, Security”]

In the event of a natural disaster or act of terrorism, security and redundancy are built into data centres for cloud providers. The recent worldwide cyber security crisis provides a good example. This new strain of ransomware attack, WannaCry, once again demonstrated the huge vulnerabilities caused by companies and individuals not patching their systems.

When working in the cloud, the latest updates and most up-to-date security measures are instantly at companies’ fingertips, therefore, minimising the risk of vulnerabilities. Security factors include multi-tiered physical security, backup power supplies and communications capability alongside environmental security measures such as climate controls and fire suppression.

All of this enables companies to benefit from less expenditure on back-up kit and training and get on with running your business today rather than spending valuable time and money worrying about tomorrow.

Quick and agile collaboration through SaaS

Managing permissions, access to information, new hires and leavers (provisioning) is also easy to do using the cloud.  Simple to use and relatively cheap software is available to make provisioning easy, enabling employees to be hired, fired and inspired at the click of a mouse.  While it is respectfully suggested that you let a real human do the actual hiring and firing, when the decision is made, setting up permissions and access to company data is now a simple task.  Most of this provisioning software is consumed as Software as a Service (Saas) providing a scalable and predictable cost.

Cloud-based provisioning facilitates quick and agile co-operation within and between teams and departments, enabling them to respond rapidly to changing business needs and priorities.  Huge expenditure on clunky systems should not exist in the cloud, anything worth doing should be available on subscription without large fixed costs to buy, install and back-up.

Once you have migrated to the cloud, freed your data and employees from poor back-up and service, enabled BYOD, managed your data security and access, you still have to get people working together effectively.  Businesses can only fully exploit the investment in the cloud and enhance workplace productivity by expanding beyond the use of email, calendars and files.  Microsoft Office 365 offers some useful collaboration tools, but Microsoft has been poor at explaining the benefits of them to its end users.

The vast majority of employees use the cloud exclusively for their emails and files, however, if you haven’t heard of Groups, Delve, Clutter, Planner, Sway or Teams, do not worry – you are not alone!  It’s worth your time doing some research as the tools available are often very useful when used and can offer a much richer, effective and productive workplace cloud experience.