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Profound Implications of Cloud and Industry Specialization for Organizational Success
Dhiraj Shah
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Most businesses desire growth, whether that's through product development, market expansion or opening new facilities. Technology is often the catalyst for this growth,but system administration and hardware maintenance put strain on the IT department, which is why more organizations are considering cloud.

In a recent survey by 451 Research, more than half of the respondents cited improving technology quality, helping grow the business and adding capabilities that couldn't be built internally as the main reasons for moving to the cloud. Cloud has been moving up on the CIO radar for several years, but the technology isn't nearly as interesting as the business advantages it delivers.

Keeping pace with change
Adaptability and flexibility are key reasons for cloud's mounting appeal. In many organizations, changing business requirements outpace IT resources, making it difficult to keep up with what's required to manage and support on premise hardware, software, and networking infrastructure. As smaller IT departments become the norm, ongoing system administration and maintenance becomes resource draining and time-consuming, preventing IT staff from focusing on higher-value company initiatives. Qualified technology talent is also in short supply, compounding the challenge in most organizations. According to a 2014 survey by the Health Information management and Systems Society (HIMSS), a third of healthcare managers said they had to postpone or scale back an IT project because of inadequate staffing.

In the case of ERP systems, fewer individuals are entering the field with the specialized skills required for ERP implementation and maintenance. And, as ERP applications mature, it is increasingly difficult to source, recruit, and retain the talent needed for enterprise application management.

Cloud eliminates infrastructure, administration, and management costs while solving the skills shortage, enabling organizations to focus on core capabilities and effectively scale to meet business demand. Healthcare providers can focus on patient care, retailers on creating more engaging consumer experiences, and public-sector entities can look for better ways to serve citizens and not spend time on monotonous IT tasks.

Next-generation IT
Through cloud, IT can be an enabler of the business, driving transformation and game-changing competitive advantage, allowing the business to scale and rapidly embrace new technologies, including mobile, social, and more robust analytics while lowering total cost of ownership. It also shifts the technology investment from CAPEX to OPEX via its SaaS-based pay-by consumption model.

A services partner with industry expertise can help organizations understand the impact of moving to the cloud by examining business process and identifying solutions that best fit the organization's need. Greater flexibility to scale up or down to meet business demand is a key motivation for moving to the cloud. For example, with on premise solutions organizations may require more hardware than is needed for growth and disaster recovery.

Specialized for industry
Cloud makes it easier to adopt new technologies and business approaches to create competitive differentiation. Industry-rich functionality delivered via cloud allows for swift implementation, built-in best-practices and ongoing updates, upgrades and IT operations service.

Cloud computing is a significant advancement, but not all solutions are equal. In the ERP market, some solutions are client-server architecture rewritten for the cloud. There are new breeds of enterprise software manufacturers that are developing software that is architected for the cloud. Infor Global, based out of New York City, is one of the leaders in that segment by delivering true cloud-based enterprise software solutions for their customers.

The next wave in the cloud evolution is applications that are purpose-built for industry. Infor takes it a step further, targeting microverticals within vertical industries. For example, while beer and bakery manufacturers are both in the food and beverage industry, their processes differ. Recognizing that different companies have different needs, the next evolution is highly specialized software that supports those specific micro-vertical requirements.

When functionality is offered as standard in the software, organizations can alleviate the time and cost of implementation hours to build a customized suite as well as re-configuration costs as business needs change or software updates become available. With industry-specific applications for finance, human capital management, supply chain, and customer relationship management, implementations are faster, maintenance is reduced, and total cost of ownership is lower.

Immediate value
Organizations are already seeing the value of cloud combined with industry-specific functionality. Updates are seamless and occur in real-time. Information is available enterprise-wide and accessible 24/7. Security provisions and safeguards are stronger than those on premise. Combined with industry-specific functionality and robust analytics, data can be operational, enabling predictive business strategies around past periods of sustained success.

Organizations stand a lot to gain across several vectors-from lower CAPEX to greater flexibility, fewer customizations, and reduced time to market-by embracing the benefits of cloud. If greater agility, management, cost savings, and resiliency are part of the strategic growth plan, looking to the cloud and software that meets the specific requirements of your industry may deliver the competitive edge needed for success.
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