A Definitive List of the Business Benefits of Cloud Computing

When you run a Google search for the “benefits of cloud computing”, you’ll come across a number of articles with a good list of those. However, most of them don’t go into the details, which nevertheless might still suit some readers. But if you’re looking for compelling business reasons to move your company’s IT to the cloud, a peripheral understanding of what this technology can do for you certainly won’t cut it.

Now, cloud computing is not just one of those “cool” technologies that come along every couple of years and which can only benefit a particular department.?What we’re talking about here really is a paradigm shift in computing that can transform not only entire IT infrastructures but also how we run our respective organisations.

I hate to think that some people are holding back on cloud adoption just because they haven’t fully grasped what they’re missing. That is why I decided to put together this list. I wanted to produce a list that would help top management gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of the cloud.

Cloud computing is one bandwagon you really can’t afford not to jump into. Here are ten good reasons why:

1.?Zero?CAPEX and low TCO for an enterprise-class IT infrastructure

2. Improves cash flow

3. Strengthens business continuity/disaster recovery capabilities

4. Lowers the cost of analytics

5. Drives business agility

6. Ushers in anytime, anywhere collaboration

7. Enhances information, product, and service delivery

8. Keeps entire organisation in-sync

9. ?Breathes life into innovation in IT

10. Cultivates optimal environments for development and testing

Zero CAPEX and low TCO for an enterprise-class IT infrastructure

Most cloud adopters with whom I’ve talked to cite this particular reason for gaining interest in the cloud.

Of course they had to dig deeper and consider all other factors before ultimately deciding to migrate. But the first time they heard cloud services could give them access to enterprise class IT infrastructures without requiring any upfront capital investment, they realised this was something worth exploring.

A good IT infrastructure can greatly improve both your cost-effectiveness and your capability to compete with larger companies. The more reliable, fast, highly-available, and powerful it is, the better.

But then building such an infrastructure would normally require a huge capital investment for networking equipment, servers, data storage, power supply, cooling, physical space, and others, which could run up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros. To acquire an asset this costly, you’d have to take in debt and be burdened by the ensuing amortisation.

If you’ve got volumes of cash stashed in your vault, cost might not be a problem. But then if you really have so much savings, wouldn’t it be more prudent to use it for other sales-generating projects? An extensive marketing endeavour perhaps?

A capital expenditure of this magnitude and nature, which normally has to be approved by shareholders, can be regarded as a high financial risk. What if business doesn’t do well and you wouldn’t need all that computing power? What if the benefits expected from the IT investment are not realised??You cannot easily convert your IT infrastructure into cash.

Remember we’re talking about a depreciating asset. So even assuming you can liquidate it, you still can’t hope to sell it at its buying price. These factors are going to play in the minds of your Board of Directors when they’re asked to decide on this CAPEX.

Incidentally, these issues don’t exist in a cloud-based solution.

A cloud solution typically follows a pay-as-you-go utility pricing model where you get billed monthly (sometimes quarterly) just like your electricity. ?In other words, it’s an expense you’ll need to pay for?at the end of a period over which the service’s value would have already been realised. Compare that with a traditional infrastructure wherein you’ll have to spend upfront but the corresponding value will still have to be delivered gradually in the succeeding months or years.

demand expense traditional infrastructure

From the point of view of your CFO, what could have been a CAPEX to acquire an asset that depreciates with time (and consequently reduces your company’s net worth), becomes a flexible operating expense (OPEX).?Truly, it is an operating expense that you can increase, decrease, or even totally discontinue, depending on what the prevailing business conditions demand.

demand expense cloud infrastructure

People who think they have done the math in comparing cloud-based and traditional IT infrastructures claim that, although they see how cloud solutions transform CAPEX into OPEX, they really don’t see any significant difference in overall costs.

However, these people have only gone as far as adding up the expected monthly expenses of a cloud solution over the estimated duration of an equivalent IT infrastructure’s effective lifespan and comparing the sum with that IT infrastructure’s price tag. You won’t get a clear comparison that way.

You need to consider all factors that contribute to the infrastructure’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Once you factor in the costs of electricity, floor space, storage, and IT administrators, the economical advantages of choosing a cloud solution will be more evident. Add to that the costs of downtime such as: interruptions to business operations, technical support fees, and the need to maintain expensive IT staff who spend most of their time “firefighting”, and you’ll realise just how big the savings of cloud adopters can be.

Still not convinced? Well, we’re still getting started.?On our next post, we’ll take a closer look at the additional benefits of paying under an OPEX model instead of a CAPEX model.

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The Child at Work: Fun Team Builds with LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

There is a child just below the surface in all of us. When were kids, adults lopped off the sharp bits that intruded into their ?genteel? society. Schools, to their everlasting shame sanded away our unique free spirits, as they stuck us into uniforms and imposed a daily classroom discipline. We received badges and prizes if we obeyed, and strict sanctions when we did not. This produced a generation of middle-age managers who no longer know how to play.

Life can be so deadly serious ?

Things work pretty much the same in business. Life is deadly serious. If we want to keep our jobs, we must deliver on the bottom line in our departments. There is little time for fun outside the Christmas party, when we may, within the limits of decorum engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation, rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Team builds (and strategic planning sessions) can be deadly boring affairs that proceed down narrow funnels defined by human resource facilitators. No matter how hard HR they may try, the structural hierarchy will remain intact, unless they find a way to set it aside during the program. Injecting fun into the occasion liberates independent thought, and this is why.

? But not for a little child at play

Next time you dine out at a branded family restaurant, select a seat that allows you observe the kiddies? play zone. Notice how inventive children become, when the family hierarchy is not there to tell them what to do (although parents may try from the wrong side of the soundproof glass). The ?serious play? side of fun team-builds aims to liberate managers by releasing their child for the duration. Shall we dig a little deeper into this and discover the dynamics?

Many of us have less than perfect oral communication skills. This is one of the great impediments to modern business meetings. We may not have sufficient time to formulate our thoughts for them to remain relevant when we speak. When we express them, we sense the group?s impatience for us to hurry up, so other members can have their opportunity to contribute.

Sharing better thinking with LEGO? bricks

Most of us feel an urge to click the brightly coloured plastic bricks together that carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen released into a war-weary world in 1949. The basic kit is a great leveller because the blocks are all the same, and the discriminators are the colours and the power of our imagination. Watching a free-form LEGO builder in action is equally fascinating, as we wonder ?what they will do next? and ?what is happening in their mind.?

Examples of LEGO Serious PLAY in action

Instead of asking team members to describe themselves in a minute, a LEGO? SERIOUS PLAY? facilitator may gather them around a table piled high with LEGO bricks instead, and ask them to each build a model of themselves. The atmosphere is informal with interaction and banter encouraged. It is still serious play though, as team members get to know each other, and their own personalities better

The system is equally effective in strategic sessions, where the facilitator provides specially selected building blocks for the team to experiment with as they learn to listen, and share. This enables them to deconstruct a problem into its component parts, and share solutions regardless of seniority, culture, and communication skills.

Creating problem- and solution-landscapes three dimensionally this way, enables open conversations that keep the focus on the problem. Participants at these team builds do not only reach effective consensus faster. They are also busy building better communication skills as they do.

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UK Government Updates ESOS Guidelines

Britain?s Environment Agency has produced an update to the ESOS guidelines previously published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Fortunately for businesses much of it has remained the same. Hence it is only necessary to highlight the changes here.

  1. Participants in joint ventures without a clear majority must assess themselves individually against criteria for participation, and run their own ESOS programs if they comply.
  2. If a party supplying energy to assets held in trust qualifies for ESOS then these assets must be included in its program.
  3. Total energy consumption applies only to assets held on both the 31 December 2014 and 5 December 2015 peg points. This is relevant to the construction industry where sites may exchange hands between the two dates. The definition of ?held? includes borrowed, leased, rented and used.
  4. Energy consumption while travelling by plane or ship is only relevant if either (or both) start and end-points are in the UK. Foreign travel may be voluntarily included at company discretion. The guidelines are silent regarding double counting when travelling to fellow EU states.
  5. The choice of sites to sample is at the discretion of the company and lead assessor. The findings of these audits must be applied across the board, and ?robust explanations? provided in the evidence pack for selection of specific sites. This is a departure from traditional emphasis on random.

The Environment Agency has provided the following checklist of what to keep in the evidence pack

  1. Contact details of participating and responsible undertakings
  2. Details of directors or equivalents who reviewed the assessment
  3. Written confirmation of this by these persons
  4. Contact details of lead assessor and the register they appear on
  5. Written confirmation by the assessor they signed the ESOS off
  6. Calculation of total energy consumption
  7. List of identified areas of significant consumption
  8. Details of audits and methodologies used
  9. Details of energy saving opportunities identified
  10. Details of methods used to address these opportunities / certificates
  11. Contracts covering aggregation or release of group members
  12. If less than twelve months of data used why this was so
  13. Justification for using this lesser time frame
  14. Reasons for including unverifiable data in assessments
  15. Methodology used for arriving at estimates applied
  16. If applicable, why the lead assessor overlooked a consumption profile

Check out: Ecovaro ? energy data analytics specialist 

Which Services to Share?

It often makes sense to pool resources. Farmers have been doing so for decades by collectively owning expensive combine harvesters. France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain have successfully pooled their manufacturing power to take on Boeing with their Airbus. But does this mean that shared services are right in every situation?

The Main Reasons for Sharing

The primary argument is economies of scale. If the Airbus partners each made 25% of the engines their production lines would be shorter and they would collectively need more technicians and tools. The second line of reasoning is that shared processes are more efficient, because there are greater opportunities for standardisation.

Is This the Same as Outsourcing?

Definitely not! If France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain has decided to form a collective airline and asked Boeing to build their fleet of aircraft, then they would have outsourced airplane manufacture and lost a strategic industry. This is where the bigger picture comes into play.

The Downside of Sharing

Centralising activities can cause havoc with workflow, and implode decentralised structures that have evolved over time. The Airbus technology called for creative ways to move aircraft fuselages around. In the case of farmers, they had to learn to be patient and accept that they would not always harvest at the optimum time.

Things Best Not Shared

Core business is what brings in the money, and this should be tailor-made to its market. It is also what keeps the company afloat and therefore best kept on board. The core business of the French, German, United Kingdom and Spanish civilian aircraft industry is transporting passengers. This is why they are able to share an aircraft supply chain that spun off into a commercial success story.

Things Best Shared

It follows that activities that are neither core nor place bound – and can therefore happen anywhere ? are the best targets for sharing. Anything processed on a computer can be processed on a remote computer. This is why automated accounting, stock control and human resources are the perfect services to share.

So Case Closed Then?

No, not quite. ?Technology has yet to overtake our humanity, our desire to feel part of the process and our need to feel valued. When an employee, supplier or customer has a problem with our administration it’s just not good enough to abdicate and say ?Oh, you have to speak to Dublin, they do it there?.

Call centres are a good example of abdication from stakeholder care. To an extent, these have ?confiscated? the right of customers to speak to speak directly to their providers. This has cost businesses more customers that they may wish to measure. Sharing services is not about relinquishing the duty to remain in touch. It is simply a more efficient way of managing routine matters.

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