Overall, the adoption of cloud-based solutions by businesses has accelerated as the
benefits of more predictable costs, improved security and resilience, and enhanced
mobility have allowed organisations to become more agile and efficient.
Although small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) clearly see these advantages and are open to these solutions, some of them are still hesitant to adopt cloud solutions
for business-critical core business processes such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) as they simply struggle to find the right point to start and the right partner. With the exponential growth in data, and faced by a need to compete in a fast-moving digital age, the decision to stay with outmoded legacy systems can mean that SMEs risk falling behind.
Research by the IT market monitoring organisation IDC has predicted that by 2025 the global data sphere will grow tenfold to 163 zettabytes – soaring from 16.1 zettabytes in 2016. Businesses are on the front line of this evolution, with organisations facing an increase in inbound documents. Small and medium-sized
enterprises are struggling to cope. This flood of data is challenging workers and infrastructure alike.
DRIVING AN UPTAKE IN CLOUD-BASED SOLUTIONS
These pressures have already reached a tipping point in large companies, forcing comprehensive digital transformation. Alongside such change programmes, there has been a corresponding expansion in the use of cloud-based solutions. In the process, organisations have also benefitted from the fact that cloud solutions are entirely processed externally.
Cloud solutions also offer advantages in business-critical applications such as IT security and backup management, as well as in areas such as digital contract management and signature processes. With regard to security, cloud services can often prove especially attractive, as in many cases security can be delivered at a higher level than could be provided in-house.
In the enterprise market, confidence in the cloud has now reached the point where cloud solutions are seen as a mainstream choice even for mission-critical processes such as ERP.
72% of the companies believe that business at the speed of paper will be unacceptable in a few years’ time.
Source: AIIM, NOW is the Time to Break Free of Paper, 2018
The research and consulting company Gartner describes the enterprise market as shifting to a ‘cloud-first’ mindset and estimates that by 2020 more than 50 per cent
of outsourcing contracts will be influenced by IT and cloud services.
CLOUDS OF ALL SIZES ARE NOW AVAILABLE
Virtually all the benefits of cloud solutions are equally applicable to small and medium-sized organisations – and SMEs are now slowly becoming more open towards cloud solutions. Although many have adopted some cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, the latest Cloud-Monitor 2018 by Bitkom
shows that SMEs still lag behind when it comes to outsourcing core applications.
However, this is now changing as the pace of digitalisation, along with pressures such as tougher regulatory requirements, are forcing a reappraisal of the opportunities offered by cloud solutions, which have never been so diverse or relevant.
Today, there are cloud and SaaS solutions that cater to virtually every type and size of business, making a model that was once more oriented towards large companies equally attractive to SMEs.
STRONG SERVICE IS ONLY AVAILABLE FROM STRONG PARTNERS
Working alongside a partner experienced in supporting SMEs can be the most effective way to break through this initial barrier. Paired with analysis-based and strategic consulting, this partner is able to offer service and solution packages that address a broad variety of IT needs.
Ideally, such solutions also reflect changing developments and needs within the company: Konica Minolta, for example, can implement a Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution that unifies, amongst others, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). These processes are increasingly merging in companies – and in this way, they are being brought together in one tool, too.
From the perspective of such a supplier, Yoann Fortini, ITS GTM Manager, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe, explains, ‘Many medium-sized companies start by viewing “cloud” as being synonymous with hosting, or the outsourcing of infrastructure to an external data centre where their IT team still has to maintain the systems and software applications. However, cloud solutions are today typically defined by service performance, whether for platforms, infrastructures or software.’
By 2020, cloud adoption strategies will influence more than 50% of IT outsourcing deals.
Gartner; Gartner says worldwide public cloud services market to grow 18 per cent in 2017, 2017
Even if moving to a fully cloud-based solution may be too drastic a step for some organisations, hybrid cloud solutions are also available that may provide a more suitable path forward.
In order to define what should be part of this path forward for their specific company – and what may not be – SMEs are looking for a provider that offers them consultation as well as a single point of contact for their requests and services. Konica Minolta, for example, works with organisations from the initial assessment of the situation and the implementation of the solution to 24/7 support and further development to ensure the system grows with the company. The ideal long-term partner for IT products and services should provide individual solutions tailored for the customer – ideally matching their needs, resources and business environment. The ultimate goal is to help organisations find their own way to their personal ideal cloud solution.
A PROJECT FROM THE FIELD: BE-GE
As an international supplier for the automotive industry with production facilities located in various European countries, business as usual for Sweden’s BE-GE Group involves fulfilling the strict schedules and contractual terms of the just-in-time automotive supply chain.
While every business is unique, cloud-based solutions should lead to a broad range of benefits for all businesses, including:
- Portability (remote IT infrastructure)
- Data security
- Software updates
- Environmental friendliness
- Affordable pay-as-you-use pricing
- Enhanced collaboration
- Emergency data backup and recovery
- Cost efficiency
As a result, safeguarding absolutely reliable operation and securing availability without interruption while maintaining the best possible data security are fundamental to the company’s operations. BE-GE’s experience epitomises how cloud solutions can be adapted to suit the customer. With high availability and resilience being of paramount importance, BE-GE wanted to have their complete IT needs covered by one reliable long-term partner who could take clear responsibility as a single point of contact.
Like many production companies, they demanded secure and reliable local IT infrastructure on their premises, but with all the benefits and the flexibility of a cloud solution.
The hybrid solution implemented provides BE-GE with a redundant on-premise High-Availability
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (HA IaaS) solution.
The solution comprises hardware and software based on a Windows Server 2016 Clustered Hyper V solution with shared storage and monitoring, backup and service desk support from Konica Minolta. While the server hardware is located at the customer’s production site for reliable offline on-site access, it is managed, monitored and backed up externally from Konica Minolta’s data centre to ensure secure operation.
Crucially, irrespective of the sophistication of the on-premise installation, BE-GE did not need to pay upfront for hardware or software costs, but only pays for the resources it uses every month.
A LEAP FORWARD RATHER THAN A STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN
For SMEs that are still bound by overly complex and time-consuming legacy processes, there is huge potential to be realised by working with the right partner to leverage the power of the cloud. Businesses are able to become more agile, competitive and resilient, while at the same time freeing their workforce from the burden of inefficient processes.
With a strong partner for cloud solutions at their side, the move into the cloud is no leap of faith, but a decisive step towards business success.