(4 min read)
In 2021, there is probably hardly a business left that does not have digitalization on its agenda and is thus investing in appropriate measures. At the beginning of our 21st century, however, nobody has guessed with what clarity the actual digitalization status of companies and the corresponding need for action would be revealed by the Corona pandemic.
How Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises May Benefit from Cloud Computing
In spring 2020, wherever possible, people were suddenly asked to leave shared offices to work from home. Video meetings replaced personal meetings with colleagues and customers. And instead of the usual trade fair visit, many professionals participated in digital conferences. An even higher portion of everyday work has thus become digital in one fell swoop.
Not least because of this rapid changeover, the interest in and the need for cloud solutions, especially in medium-sized businesses, is higher than ever before. Arguments to tackle the migration to the cloud more intensely right now become more important. We need to ensure efficient work ability despite contact restrictions, and we need to cut costs while optimizing business processes. Strategic priorities have changed significantly in many places and IT is one clear focus when it comes to ensuring future viability.
Cloud as a Key Technology for Digital Transformation
One thing is clear: to be able to meet the increasing customer expectations in the future and to perform successfully in a competitive environment, you have to act agile. Cloud technology is a key enabler for this. Regardless of whether it is about the partial outsourcing of data storage, the need of additional computing power, the use of tailor-made software-as-a-service solutions (short: SaaS) or the offer of own services as cloud applications – the technological opportunities of clouds for medium-sized enterprises are wide-ranging.
SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) can react quickly and flexibly to new customer requirements or changed market conditions without the need for large initial investments, for example in hardware infrastructure and software licenses, or long implementation processes. This way you can deliver a new product or service to the customer much faster than before.
Hybrid Cloud as the Ideal Bridging Solution for Medium-Sized Companies
If you look at the status quo in medium-sized companies, many traditionally rely on their own data center. This approach supports highly customized IT and industry solutions, which is specifically important for “hidden champions”, who often run very individual business models in well-defined niche markets. Therefore, on the journey to the cloud, it is advisable not to transfer specific (production) areas and core processes to the public cloud, but to keep these “on-premises” with private cloud extensions. This is where the hybrid cloud comes into play. It represents a needs-based combination of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises computing and offers you the advantages of a flexibly expandable IT infrastructure that the company otherwise needs to maintain at potentially higher costs.
A common example highlights the beneficial application of the hybrid cloud for medium-sized businesses: Additional services to the core product portfolio, such as apps, online shops, or customer portals, can easily overload the IT. With the need-based addition, flexible public cloud resources ensure the needed performance and availability that customers expect today. In addition, the hybrid cloud approach allows continuing to operate sensitive applications in the private cloud. This is often the first cautious step towards cloud computing to cope with security aspects and compliance requirements.
Five Good Reasons: Hybrid Cloud Computing for SMEs
The following arguments suggest why small and medium-sized enterprises should deal with the development and expansion of their cloud environments right now:
1) High Quality IT Services
Smaller businesses particularly benefit from the fact that cloud services enable them to use complex, high quality IT applications with little effort and comparably low cost, which were previously rather reserved for large companies, e. g. Customer Relationship Management. This can generate decisive competitive advantages and free up resources to enable a better concentration on the core business and the ability to innovate.
2) Always Up to Date
When using cloud computing, the IT infrastructure is not only high-performance, but also always state-of-the-art, as public cloud providers are constantly making new tools and features available to their users. SMBs could hardly guarantee this for conventional hardware and software, which nowadays become outdated all too quickly. And device connections with the Internet of Things, Data and Intelligence as well as Intelligent Automation allow continuous improvements of business processes in the cloud.
3) Scalability as Required
One of the most important reasons for using hybrid cloud solutions in medium-sized companies is their dynamic scalability. A new sales or production location for example can more easily integrate into the ERP system and new users can access these quickly and flexibly via the cloud. And even if business does not develop as expected (for example due to the current, Corona-related crisis), unused capacities and IT resources can easily be decommissioned to save costs.
4) Intelligent Work Processes
Flexible working is currently more popular than ever before. Complete or partial workfrom home is particularly easy to implement with business services from the cloud, allowing employees to access applications and company data flexibly and securely from anywhere. Smart devices, sensors and metering solutions allow collecting and including more insights from the edge to core business intelligence. Over time, more and more cloud solutions will become an elementary part of the changed world of work, also in smaller companies.
5) Easy Remote Service
In the current phase of social distancing, there is not least the advantage that cloud solutions can be implemented and securely operated from a distance. On-site installations are reduced to a minimum and due to the high degree of standardization and the new widespread use of video conference and collaboration tools, training courses and remote support can be carried out without personal contact.
A Partner at Eye Level Is Essential
In summary, with a hybrid cloud solution, SMBs have the option of easily and economically adapting IT services to their individual business requirements. This gain in flexibility benefits both, the constant optimization of processes as well as customer satisfaction, without neglecting important data security. A core requirement, however, is the choice of a trustworthy partner, who understands IT strategies and business process requirements of your industry. With relevant high-quality cloud advisory services, migration skills and complete management competence including your enterprise application layer your business of any size is safe in the cloud.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service: Thinking Big and Making Flexible Adjustments Anytime
Smaller companies should not hesitate to think big when it comes to increasing their agility, cost efficiency and security. The operation of SAP applications in the cloud offers many opportunities for this.