This is the third in my five-part series on the “cloud-forward” movement, its benefits and risks.
Cloud-forward companies are typically flexible, innovative and growing fast. They have great ideas for the marketplace that has attracted capital, talent and customers.
They also are challenged by the sheer rate of growth they are trying to sustain.
This is why they’ve turned to cloud-based services in the first place: The cloud provides an unprecedented level of flexibility for companies at all stages of growths. What companies may not realize is that adopting a cloud-forward approach actually can stimulate their growth, if they adopt and manage cloud-based services properly.
Flexibility is the first growth driver because the choice of services and tools is constantly growing, so there’s likely to be a tool that fits the specific needs of the various functions within an organization, and across a wide range of industries. This ability to match the right tool to the job is essential when dealing with the challenges of growth and maximizing resources. You can grow faster.
There’s also no long-term commitment in the cloud model. You use what you want, when you need it, and pay only for what you actually use. There’s no big up-front cost, and you don’t get locked into a technology today that in a few months might turn out to be less than ideal for the way the business has developed. This keeps costs in check and prevents resources from being wasted rather than wisely invested. You grow more profitably.
Finally, tapping into the cloud allows a fast-growing company to scale as quickly as it is growing. It’s generally easy to “turn the dial” from small-scale usage of a cloud-based service to match a new level of need, even one of those “growth spurts” that happens every few months. So your growth is aided by technology, not constrained by it.
Those are all ways that cloud-forward companies use cloud services and tools to adapt to their existing growth. But having a cloud-forward mindset and model also is a potential catalyst to growth in unexpected ways.
Many companies think about the technology solutions they need to support the ideas they already have. They provide the appropriate tools to their people to help them do the work that’s already planned. But, as anyone in a growing business knows, the best ideas often originate on the front lines or in the field, from all those smart people that bring a diverse set of skills and backgrounds to the enterprise. That diversity constantly sparks new ideas – that’s innovation.
The issue for a business is how to take advantage of that innovation and encourage and inspire their talent to pursue them. This is where the cloud-forward business shines, because the very nature of cloud-based tools and services is that individuals can easily find and use the technology they need to support bringing those ideas forward. And they can find ones that match how they think and prefer to work, which is as diverse as their backgrounds.
At the same time, of course the business still has to manage things like cost, access and security. There must be some kind of structure in place to manage these technology choices, make them easy to use yet secure, and enable collaboration without each individual needing to become a technology expert. And there’s the key difference between being a cloud user and a cloud-forward business. It’s having that structure in place that gives talent the freedom to pursue their ideas while giving the business the confidence it needs.
So talented people and smart companies alike will find the cloud-forward approach will actually be another growth driver, getting new ideas to the market ahead of the competition.