With change being the only constant in business, it is the companies that are the most agile that will remain competitive and viable.
Business agility facilitates the rapid response to changes in the business environment, allowing companies to innovate and change course as required. This is increasingly important in a fast-changing world marked by an increasingly mobilised workforce, continued globalisation and the fragmentation of traditional work environments.
Cloud computing—the storing and accessing of data over the internet—presents a significant opportunity for businesses to develop greater business agility through enhancing flexibility, driving employee collaboration, facilitating innovation and increasing productivity. ‘The cloud’ allows for real-time interaction, the access of data, and the creation and sharing of content from anywhere.
So, how can cloud computing help businesses become more agile, flexible and adaptable to change?
1. Cloud computing leverages multiple devices and synchronises data
With the incredible rise of smartphones, tablets and laptops, most employees now regularly access multiple devices to do their job. Gartner forecasts that by 2016 personal cloud will employ up to six different mobile devices. With more and more employees now working remotely —52 million globally—accessibility across devices is even more important.
Given many devices don’t have USB ports, companies can run into problems when it comes to the storage and transfer of business data from device to device. This can lead to duplication and problems with file version control. This is where cloud computing can help.
The cloud allows for data to be synchronised and seamlessly accessed across multiple devices. In layman’s terms this means a file can be updated on any device and those changes will be made available in real time on another device. The time and energy saved by file synchronisation is significant, leading to greater efficiency and flexibility.
2. Cloud computing improves workflows and decision making
File synchronisation over the cloud streamlines workflows allowing for faster approvals and speedier decision-making. Say an important document enters a workflow for approval: if the changes and feedback can be delivered in real time over the cloud, the speed of the process is greatly enhanced. No more lengthy email chains collating feedback and approvals.
This means important decisions can be made quickly and effectively, eliminating many of the pitfalls of bureaucracy and allowing for the business to adapt rapidly.
3. Cloud computing contributes to flexible, open and social workplaces
Too much structure is the enemy of agility. Those businesses which have a less structured approach are in the best position to adapt to change.
Collaboration over the cloud can help deliver a more open and flexible environment where employees interact, socialise, share advice and deliver projects in a less formal environment. This approach empowers employees to be innovative, adaptable and creative.
4. Cloud computing improves productivity
Through improved workplace collaboration, flexibility and innovation, the cloud can make a real impact on productivity, both at an individual employee and business level.
Productivity is the often untapped driver of business agility. After all, a productive and energised workforce will be best geared for a change in business direction or focus.
Cloud computing is likely to be one of the most influential innovations in business this decade. Savvy businesses are already realising the benefits of the cloud for growing business agility now and into the future.