Updated 04-09-2017 Everyone “gets” that the Cloud has changed the way computers function. Today’s personal computers and laptops no longer need a hefty 500 gigabyte hard drive — not when users can outsource that need to the cloud. But cloud storage is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what conducting business on the cloud can help you accomplish. It’s time to think in terms of stereo instead of monaural; digital instead of analog. Multiple paths as opposed to one pathway.
For small-business owners, the cloud can broaden your reach and help you compete on a global level. But which companies have used the cloud effectively and what can you learn from their successes? Here’s a quick look.
Etsy, the premier online marketplace for handmade goods, earns over a billion page views each month. For shoppers, a lot is going on behind the scenes of this website that isn’t apparent. For example, personal recommendations are made with shoppers’ interests and habits in mind. The recommendations are further refined as shoppers view more items. To accomplish this isn’t easy, and Etsy uses the cloud to analyze the data each user creates. This type of data mining wouldn’t be possible for Etsy without the cloud, as the software and hardware required for such a task is typically used by multinational businesses.
Netflix once operated solely on its own data center. However, with monthly data spikes due to the release of new hit shows, Netflix quickly discovered that it needed a more flexible formula for its business model. Now, Netflix outsources all data implementation to the cloud. Furthermore, Netflix has made many of its most valuable tools open source for other companies in other industries to change and utilize for their own ends. The most useful tool is the Simian Army, which tests your cloud deployment functions by shutting down random aspects of your cloud computing in case of a crash or emergency.
The cloud isn’t only useful for companies that need extra data capacity; it can also help companies streamline workflow and boost productivity. Georgina Wilson Architects, an Australian architecture firm, uses the cloud for job cost quotes and time tracking for its employees. The cloud helps the architectural firm manage project tasks among teams, apportion responsibility and track employee performance.
Workflow cloud software is all about optimizing performance and efficiency. For instance, workforce optimization tools like Aspect allow you to identify staff needs before they arise, automatically forecast growth and stagnation, and provide user-friendly visuals in the form of graphs and charts so you can stay informed without slogging through pages of data.
Xerox has used the cloud to more thoroughly serve customers. With Xerox Cloud Print Solutions, customers can print documents on any offsite location outside their own business and networks. This requires a lot of backend data management. But, ultimately, the cloud provides the same user experience, despite the consistent upgrades and changes a source code may require.
This exemplifies an aspect of the cloud that’s often overlooked — the ability to improve upon itself with no drastic change in user experience. For many companies, constant innovation can be detrimental if customers and clients don’t recognize or understand interface changes. But cloud-based services can be upgraded and enhanced on the backend, without complications for those who work on the frontline.