The year 2016 is in touching distance now and the cloud is no more an alienate technology for the businesses. In the last few years, the cloud has earned a significant number of adopters. Multi-user collaboration, device-independent application access, and lesser IT staffing needs are some factors that have invited trust on the cloud services.
Now, the perspective of business towards the cloud has moved miles ahead of storage services. CRM & e-mail hosting, app-development, and data analytics took the center stage as cloud applications. The coming year will see the rise of the cloud to another level and your business strategy will have to look for more advanced solutions.
Here are the top 4 applications of the cloud that businesses need to focus on in 2016.
1. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Even businesses, which are not IT-oriented, rely on the computer services heavily today. The dependency of the core-IT companies is beyond the mention. With the Internet of Things (IoT) intervening, let’s accept it- ‘businesses now breathe on the computer and related resources’.
However, there are various reasons, such as regional disasters and software errors that may cause disruption to the business operations. A disaster can result from a few hours of breakdown to an end of the business. Loss of sales, fall in productivity, damage to infrastructure, etc. are some of the possible consequences for businesses. The cloud has a pretty smart and reliable solution. A locally maintained disaster recovery plan may fail in the event of a physical disaster but cloud won’t. That makes cloud more sound option as Disaster Recovery Solution (DRS).
Cloud-based DRS can make up for any virtual or physical disaster almost instantly. It protects the business from going off track by reinstating all the operation from a different location. The rising dependency of the businesses on IT resources will ensure that if your business has not yet opted for cloud-based DRS, then opt it in 2016.
2. Accounting Operations
Accounting is one thing that no business can go without. Accounting management can be a defining factor for the profit on many occasions. Since most of the businesses do not consider accounting for its core operations, outsourcing the services is advised option. However, the privacy concerns of the accounting data have acted as the reason of reluctance with outsourcing.
Accounting on cloud brings a simplified solution to these concerns. Application-restricted documents, reliable control on user permissions, an authentic track of the changes with files, etc. allow the businesses to gain the expertise of third-party accountants. An easy example of this is the performance of QuickBooks Online, a cloud-based business accounting software from Intuit.
The number of QuickBooks Online subscribers increased from 487 in FY 2013 to 683 in FY 2014 to 1075 in FY 2015, while the sales for desktop version fell from 1,246 in FY 2013 to 882 in FY 2015, according to the Intuit’s fact sheet – financial summary report.
Image: QuickBooks Online Subscribers vs. QuickBooks Desktop Units Sales
Numbers for other accounting software tells almost the same story. So, the story is quite clear that cloud-based accounting solutions are being preferred over local machine solutions and the trend is all set to continue in 2016.
3. Listening to Social Media
Social media has helped the businesses reach the customer in a very interesting and personalized manner. Most of the businesses have mastered the art of speaking to the customers via social media. However, the platform has still not prospered as a duplex communication medium. They are lacking in the talent of listening to the customers. Now the cloud is expanding its caliber to solve this issue as well.
To help the businesses with this requirement, software manufacturers are coming up with cloud-based solutions that can automate the listening tasks for the businesses. Posted texts, images, and videos on social media users are instantly analyzed and filtered to the business specifications using these tools.
There are certain giant companies that are using them to understand emotions, needs, and reviews of the customers for years. With the cloud, the process of listening can be more effective and, eventually, help with real-time marketing to the real customers. Though the trend has still not gone viral with the majority of the small businesses, the rise in marketing competition makes it inevitable for the businesses to ignore the abilities social media listening for long.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in talks for years, but its intelligence quotient has not witnessed any major uplift. In early 2015, Microsoft’s Cortana raised the buzz about AI and, later, Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly professed about the plans of Facebook in the field. Though he stated that AI-based robots might not be able to judge better than humans for another decade, the cloud has a lot to offer in the field. With the centralization of the AI processing on the cloud, limitations can be analyzed and overcome quickly.
Of late, big data was what businesses have worked around and that still requires a lot of work to be done. AI, powered on the cloud, seems to a perfect way of handling it. Relying on cloud-based AI for visual and data analysis can ease the human resource requirements considerably and can even deliver more result-oriented and faster data to help the business planning and strategies. Without even considering what AI can deliver in the future, it already has enough potential to take your business to better heights.
The business industry expected a lot from cloud in 2015 and was citing IoT, wearable smart devices, drones, big data, etc. among the probable business assists. Most of them clicked rightly and some could not deliver up to the promises. Now that the technical needs for the businesses have elevated further, the expected solutions have also seen the changes.
For the different businesses, the unique requirements will ask for more specific solutions that were not discussed in the article. Do let us know in the comments below if your business is hoping for some other applications of the cloud to deliver the solution for you.