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Mobility and the cloud – what’s the connection?

As mobile devices catch on, now’s the best time for your business to embrace the cloud.

Consumer technology is transforming our lives as Australians are gaining ubiquitous access, to everything and everywhere, through a rich and simple user experience that has become the norm. But small businesses are also warming up to the benefits of consumer-style technology in the workplace.

A recent Telstra survey found that more than half of Australian SMBs are providing their staff with a smartphone and more than 66 per cent plan to purchase tablets in the coming year. Apart from the flexibility that these mobile devices provide, this is also the best time if any for SMBs to embrace the cloud to make their businesses truly mobile.

Work at your own time, save money and be more resourceful

There are many trends that come and go, but cloud is certainly one to stay due to the many benefits it provides to business of all sizes. For instance, cloud computing allows business applications to be hosted on the service provider’s infrastructure, leaving you to focus on your business. Staff can now access this data and applications from anywhere, using devices of their choice. They are no longer tied to their desks, and are empowered to work at their own time – this can provide an amazing lift to productivity.

Time constraints, resource and cost are always the big ticket issues – particularly when it comes to IT, but cloud-based services can help small businesses to dramatically reduce the impact these challenges have, providing a more agile position to monetize the business opportunities around them, literally ‘cashing in’ on the trend. Why? Because by pushing these applications and the IT administration out to the cloud it means you can concentrate on what generates revenue, not ‘keeps the lights on’ and it can all be managed with greater fiscal discipline given it comes in a pay-by-month or VM (virtual machine) model, so you only pay for what you use.

Not only is cloud computing to some extent financially freeing due to the services generally being paid for on a per-month, per-user basis that is easy to change, but it is also highly convenient because you are always using the latest version of everything without needing to perform complicated upgrades.

Mobility is a key trend for 2012

Surveys have shown that over 60 percent of SMBs have at least one person who works away from the office at any point in time. Businesses with mobile workforces such as sales representatives, tradesmen quoting on jobs, accountants, and contractors would benefit the most from cloud-based services. For instance, contractors could recover their job schedules the night before without having to go into the office, check on any updates throughout the day or initiate a workflow for someone to follow up a request from a customer.

With the cloud, your employees’ capacity and your business productivity are both enhanced – urgent orders can still be processed after hours, customer queries are dealt with more promptly, sales people are working with data in real time and there is a constant flow of information – accessible by anyone (who is authorised), anywhere, anytime.

In the event that a staff member loses their device, have their laptop or tablet stolen or need to go on medical leave, the most up-to-date file is still retrievable quickly and effectively without the involvement of IT staff, which often comes at an additional cost.

Mobility is turning out to be the key trend for 2012 and to truly capitalise on the benefits of the bringing-your-own-devices (BYOD) to work; embracing the cloud will be a key differentiator. The benefits for those that embrace it are potentially enormous, with the opportunities to be exploited by harnessing cloud technology not reserved for larger businesses only, as once thought. What needs to be understood is that the cloud can add a lot of value to small businesses due to its simplicity, accessibility and flexibility – as long as you are able to manage the growth in data, back it up and secure your devices.

– Mark Oakey is marketing manager, Storage Platforms at EMC Corporation ANZ

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