Part 2 of “Cloud-Driven Competitive Advantage” series
The story of every small and midsize business begins with an idea. Whether it’s the desire to build a better car, make hailing a taxi simpler and convenient, or improve how people collaborate, entrepreneurs exhibit the drive, commitment, and intelligence to turn their inspiration into a revenue-generating company. As the firm grows and achieves success, technological upgrades become a valuable resource when moving to the next level.
Increasingly mature cloud platforms are giving all companies access to IT applications and capabilities once could only be afforded by large enterprises with deep pockets. More and more, democratized technology and services are leveling the playing field as businesses leverage the cloud to reduce costs, boost productivity, and respond to customer demand with speed and agility.
According to the IDC InfoBrief “Using Cloud Capabilities for Competitive Advantage: How Small and Midsize Companies Worldwide Are Adopting Cloud Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP, surveyed executives indicated reliance on the cloud to deliver foundational capabilities such as collaboration (40%), customer relationship management (31.1%), and e-commerce (25.3%). And as their adoption of the cloud continues, they expect to shift their investments within the next 12 months to take advantage of data-driven insight through business intelligence (23%), marketing and social media analytics (21.3%), and partner and supplier planning and coordination (20.5%).
Cloud adoption: A journey of incremental value
Moving to the cloud with one point solution at a time is a sound strategy for many small and midsize companies. In my interactions with business owners around the world, it’s not uncommon to see firms upgrade their management of HR activities, customer relationships, and travel and expenses over time.
For these companies, there is a distinct advantage in starting with small, fast-track improvements. The smaller the solution, the easier it is to adopt, use, and drive a business impact. Firms can then grow and reach a place where they can invest in another point solution that moves them closer to full cloud adoption.
Take, for example, the transition of an HR function to the cloud. The journey may start with a core HR solution to set the foundation. Once the workforce is accustomed to the results of that implementation, a recruiting solution may be tapped to bring new talent on board. Then over time, a learning module could be integrated with the platform to engage field enablement and support employee skill development. And last, but not least, a goal management solution may be adopted to measure employee performance and increase effectiveness and productivity.
As demonstrated in the above road map, each separate implementation is a building block for achieving the final vision: a cloud-enabled HR organization. Firms that decide to move a business function to the cloud all at once tend to run the risk of lackluster adoption and budget wasted on unused subscriptions. An incremental approach safeguards the company from these missteps by taking into account the digital maturity of the leadership team, workforce, operational processes, partners, and customers.
Why the cloud is a natural extension of an IT legacy of trust
Most small and midsize businesses do not have the big IT budgets of large enterprises. Instead, the common practice is to designate a partner as the IT staff. By developing a relationship with a trusted advisor, firms can gain the knowledge and know-how they need to navigate every digital transition with a defined road map, evolving vision, and best practices.
Similar to partners, cloud technology is another step toward scaling IT capabilities without acquiring more on-site staff and infrastructure. By giving cloud providers the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining servers and other hardware, rolling out new applications, and securing 24×7 runtime, small and midsize businesses can accelerate the benefits of each technology investment and fuel consistent growth and market leadership.
Blog originally published on the Digitalist Magazine.