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'If used correctly, cloud can boost your business growth in the shortest time possible' - PC Retail

'If used correctly, cloud can boost your business growth in the shortest time possible'

As part of our Cloud Sector Spotlight we interview Cobweb’s Ash Patel
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PCR chats to Ash Patel, director of business transformation at Cobweb Solutions, to find out the biggest benefits of the cloud how firms can keep their data safe.

How has the cloud changed the way people do business?
Cloud computing is driving a shift in mentality from ownership to access, from a technology to a user driven business. It has brought down a significant number of barriers for entering and competing in the market, shifting the play from market share to customer experience. Many new, disruptive businesses alongside early cloud adopter SMEs are seeing growth and success comparable to that of established brands in a very short period of time. The cloud has delivered great value for firms of all types, shapes and sizes and it will continue to do so.

What cloud services do you offer?
Cobweb understands the shift in the market from technology to business solutions. To address this shift we have created a comprehensive portfolio of cloud services that can be bundled together into flexible solutions that deliver agility, productivity, secure communication, business continuity and web presence needs. Services range from Microsoft Office 365, Skype for Business, Hosted Desktop, Infrastructure as a Service and Cloud Backup, to Hosted Microsoft Exchange, Advanced Email Encryption, Email Archiving and Hosted Microsoft SharePoint.

How does the cloud help collaboration and remote working?
Cloud computing is challenging the status quo of physical presence as a requirement for productivity and overall business growth. Cloud has made the consumerisation of IT possible and with it introduced concepts such as BYOD, virtual meeting rooms and workspaces.

Services such as hosted virtual desktops provide users with access to the company network, data, applications and systems at any time, from any place and on any device. Businesses can stay in control of user access and information permissions whilst allowing employees to have more freedom in their work styles. This, in turn, translates into improved productivity.

What are some of the biggest benefits of getting onboard with the cloud?
Reducing capital expenditure is usually the primary motivation for small and medium-sized businesses moving their operations to the cloud. As it stands, businesses in Britain currently save around 11 per cent from their use of cloud services, a figure predicted to increase to 19 per cent by 2020.

By using a cloud solutions provider, businesses benefit from 24/7 access to IT support, along with increased resilience and reliability. Plus there’s fewer in-house IT costs. What’s more, information is always available and there is less risk of data loss.

The competitive advantage the cloud delivers does not start and end with the bottom line. It also facilitates agility and flexibility, which are necessities for SMEs to stay ahead of the curve in today’s competitive landscape. “Pay as you go" style cloud services enable organisations to easily increase their use of cloud as the business grows, or decrease spend if they need to temporarily scale down.

What can businesses do to ensure their data is safe in the cloud?
Organisations should use a cloud provider who has a vested interest in upholding high levels of protection. They face tougher security standards, and have greater resources available to employ leading security experts. What’s more, they must use secure data centres that are independently audited and adhere to relevant industry standards.

However, businesses must take responsibility for running rigid checks on their cloud provider. Firstly, they should ensure they have the necessary security and access control procedures in place. Advanced encryption should be a common fixture, with the decryption key resting solely in the hands of the business.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the evolution of the cloud?
Next year more organisations are planning to venture into the cloud for the first time, and take advantage of the benefits it provides. For firms already in the cloud, additional services are being added every day. CIF’s latest findings predict that CRM, data backup, disaster recovery services and data storage are among the areas set to see the largest increase in adoption.

In terms of the next big thing for channel partners, the cloud will bring about more ease than ever in acquiring new capabilities on an as-a-service basis – from professional services to billing, support and marketing.

Is cloud right for everyone/every businesses?
Cloud is undoubtedly a key driver and enabler for business transformation. In the digital era, cloud is helping companies to emerge, grow and compete more aggressively in the marketplace. It brings cost, flexibility and responsiveness benefits to any business.

The challenge with cloud readiness lies with the level of commitment the organisation has for clearly defining business needs and objectives, as well as their solution provider’s understanding of the customer’s big picture. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” with business solutions. Without a tailored approach, individual business needs could be missed.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of being ‘born in the cloud’?
The primary benefits of the cloud for start-ups are around the costs and scale of operating the business. Investment in physical facilities, hardware and business assets is minimal. Because they rely on cloud to drive the business, their processes, systems and applications would have already been tailored to their future business model, making them extremely agile and flexible.

Disadvantages are few. It’s more about the disruption they cause in the market. This means having to change traditional market perception and alter the way established industries work. Almost every business will have had to consider how they can make best use of cloud based applications and online service delivery. If they haven’t yet, they should start now.

What would you say to anyone not interested in using or selling cloud services?
You are missing out on the future! In order to stay competitive in the digital economy you need to transform the way you work, transact and interact with your customers. Cloud has blurred the lines between industries and markets.

If used correctly cloud can boost your business growth in the shortest time possible. Companies can expand in new markets more quickly, achieve economies of scale and create new business models, whilst partners can become true enablers of business transformation by bundling the right services into solutions and wrapping more value around their proposition.

Throughout January, PCR is running a dedicated Sector Spotlight on The Cloud – click the logo below for more articles

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