The remote working revolution means the cloud is more crucial than ever – and you can’t afford to ignore it.
A recent report published by Cisco Systems, predicts that over the next five years, Africa and the Middle East will see the most rapid growth in cloud services. The region’s cloud computing infrastructure is expected to grow at 42% per year, far outpacing the global average. The report indicates that cloud computing and storage infrastructure is growing at an annual rate of 33% worldwide and a large portion of this could be earmarked for flexible working.
The Internet of things, blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning are all very significant in the South African setting. According to an IDC South African CIO Survey, 62% of CIOs are aware of blockchain technology while 25% are actively researching ways to implement it in their organisations.
Research by Regus’s parent group, IWG, suggests 53 per cent of people ditch the office 2.5 days a week or more – with 70 per cent doing it at least once a week. Fuelled by employee demand for greater flexibility and a better life-work balance, cloud computing has become crucial. From offering the best applications, connecting you with colleagues around the world and accessing documents instantly across multiple devices, it is the cornerstone of sophistication.
This self-driving, self-healing autonomous cloud operates in this realm and it is introducing noteworthy solutions, vital for South African Businesses. Autonomous technology is set to lead the way when it comes to security – capable of assessing and addressing a breach without human intervention or delay – and affordability. The need for self- sufficiency will be driving the cloud to the next level without hesitation.
And while it’s taken some businesses time to adapt and understand the benefits of a cloud workforce, the increased savings and efficient use of real estate, means the message is finally hitting home – the significant productivity gains it can produce are testament to its increasing success.
Here we take a look at how the cloud came to be and focus on some of the latest innovations to help businesses embrace flexible working.
How the cloud came to be
Flashback to the 1990s, and application service providers (ASPs) brought web-based applications to the market. The technology was crude, and networks couldn’t cope, but it proved the cloud had potential.
Java arrived and allowed applications through a web browser. It soon hit home that using the internet to connect to off-premise applications really could work. Fast-forward 10 years, Java matured, and the internet became the best network in the world.
Suddenly staff were bypassing the company IT network to find better tools for the job. IT managers were the keepers of a castle – they had built a moat around it and secured data and applications inside it and now they were losing control.
Eventually, people power won on the basis it was making them more productive and the cloud became the unstoppable force it is today.
Hybrid cloud versus multi-cloud
Up to 70 percent of network traffic is now directed off-premise and driven by flexible workers. One way that IT departments are coping is with the hybrid cloud. Here, popular public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform operate independently – and theoretically in perfect harmony – alongside the private IT infrastructure of an organisation.
This allows companies to store sensitive data on a private cloud, while leveraging the resources available from public cloud applications in a win-win for flexible workers.
A new emerging innovation is multi-cloud and it means remote workers can cherry-pick the best applications and services from more than one public cloud provider at a time – think of it as a ‘best of’ cloud compilation album.
Cross-device cloud compatibility
A proper virtual workspace housed in the cloud can be accessed with pretty much any end-user device, whether it’s a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. This empowers staff to work in the most efficient manner possible.
It also has a huge impact on greater time management. Why travel into work during rush hour when you can work remotely until things have died down and then head in?
Enterprise messaging in the cloud
As with WhatsApp for internal business communications, enterprise messaging is a way for staff to work collaboratively without getting bogged down by email and unnecessary meetings, so things get done faster and more efficiently.
A top enterprise messenger service offers more than just a convenient way to chat. It should work seamlessly across all devices and includes things such as voice and video calling, all supported securely over the cloud.
Given it’s all about being snappy, it’s little wonder the platforms all have buzzword-style names. Fuze, Flock and Slack have already established themselves as favourites for end users because they are easy to navigate and require very little set-up.
Internet of Things and the cloud
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes devices connected to a network. Rather than traditional devices such as computers, these could be cameras, thermostats and microphones. Data gathered by these devices is handled in the cloud, meaning workers who rely on it can access and act upon it without having to be there.
Take manufacturing, where machines must work at peak performance. Traditionally trained engineers had to be on site to monitor the operation but, by using IoT sensors, they can keep tabs on variables such as temperature, energy consumption and moisture from anywhere.
The impact is being felt in the office, too. As some businesses turn to virtual assistants[i] for administrative roles, the IoT can help support them carry out tasks that previously would have required someone to be there in person.
The near future will likely see cloud embed itself even more into both the public and private sectors. Organisations are looking to cloud to provide them with the innovation and technology they need to catalyse business and meet the challenges of a mercurial economy. Already the benefits are being felt by those who adopted at the outset and further research, statistically proven results and richly structured cloud feature-sets and solutions are seeing all industries invest in its potential.