Mobile cloud computing – the path to growth?
It wasn’t too long ago that businesses looking to grow had to invest in expensive hardware and software. The initial outlay put a lot of options out of smaller companies’ reach, while the kit’s upkeep and depreciation were a real headache for the bigger businesses that did invest. But now everything’s changed. Virtual, shared resources are set to revolutionise the business world as we know it.
The end of 9 to 5
Part of this change is thanks to mobile networking. Smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly sophisticated, running apps that were once restricted to desktop computing only. And soon we’ll see 4G rolled out across the country, which means faster download speeds and greater capacity to deal with more demanding services. Both are setting busy business owners free from the traditional, office-based 9 to 5.
Services on demand
The big breakthrough has been – and will continue to be – the cloud, because of the services it puts at people’s fingertips. In a nutshell, it brings the ability to:
- use a whole host of applications on the internet, as needed, without having to buy and manage upgrades (Software as a Service, or SaaS)
- build and run software on the web, without having to buy all the things to support it, like a database, web server and programming environment (Platform as a Service, or PaaS)
- access the servers, storage and networks needed to power these activities, again, without having to heavily invest in hardware (Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS).
For businesses that means:
- less admin and more work time
- greater flexibility around where to work and when, how to collaborate and with whom
- access to the most up-to-date, best-in-class apps
- updates and upgrades as part of the service, no need for more investment
- scale for busy periods, available at the click of a button
- the chance to ramp up processing power according to different time zones and apportion physical resources at any time.
And that means growth
Combined, these benefits bring the opportunity to grow and scale without the heavy personal and financial investment servers and software traditionally required. Because, importantly, now there’s no up-front cost. The pay-as-you-use-it model makes cash flow predictable. And although this can sometimes result in a total spend in excess of what the actual product might have finally cost, smaller regular payments free up the chance to invest elsewhere.
It’s no wonder cloud services are attracting the attention of businesses both large and small. And gone are the days of cutting down big corporate offerings in a poor attempt to provide some sort of SME support. Now, providers are starting to put packages together to fit businesses of all sizes. And increasingly, they’re developing portfolios of products specific to individual verticals.
Of course no change is ever immediate. Not only do these new services require a new mindset (from installing software to using it in the cloud), there are also perception issues around security and privacy. A lot of these concerns can be addressed through careful research (choose your provider wisely) and taking a risk-based approach (if you’re dealing with highly sensitive data, outsource to a PCI compliant third party, for example).
But the key is in giving it a go. The freedom and flexibility offered by mobile cloud computing are transformative, and can only increase in potential. We’re already seeing SaaS apps being tailored to different devices and soon responsive sites will be standard. What next? It’s an exciting time and one that providers can’t afford to miss out on.
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