Such has been the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic that by the end of this year, 80% of companies globally will put a mechanism in place to shift to cloud-centric infrastructure and applications.
By Kriya Govender, CEO of PRP Solutions
Additionally, 39% of surveyed chief human resource officers believe the cloud is central to business strategy and critical to revenue growth. And while it is important to embrace cloud-based solutions for HR and other business practices, local organisations need to navigate the complexities of the South African environment to do so.
Central to this is how their potential cloud service provider manages the requirements of a continually evolving regulatory framework. And with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) recently have been enforced, there are significant financial and reputational fines and the potential of jail time for executives for those falling foul of POPIA.
And for those businesses who also serve a European market, there is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to be mindful of. A golden thread tying both these acts together is the importance of data protection, specifically personal information.
Additionally, the cloud provider must deliver a solution that can perform disaster recovery. For instance, if disaster strikes at a specific server location, the provider can immediately switch over to the next one in a way that is seamless to the end-user.
But whether it be regulatory requirements or business continuity, the value of encryption cannot be ignored. In fact, encryption is a cornerstone for the success of any cloud environment or implementation.
Every business has intellectual property it must protect. But the threats of cyberattacks are pervasive and threaten to take a company down virtually overnight. It is no longer a case of worrying about someone coming in and breaking into a server room at the office. In a cloud environment, cyberattacks can happen at any time from anywhere in the world. This makes firewalls and other cybersecurity measures, including encrypting data, fundamental to storing data in the cloud.
Cloud providers must assure their clients that their data is always encrypted at a level that they are comfortable with. Some organisations still fear that if their data is residing in the cloud, poses a huge security risk to their data. However, with the recommended cloud security protocols, their data is secure and in most cases much more secure that on premise storage.
Capitalising on cloud growth
One of the fundamental ways that the cloud can benefit local companies regardless of industry sector is that it equips them with more scalable solutions. This not only extends to the storage space required, but also in how the high-performance computing capabilities of cloud environments can be leveraged.
Think of how the likes of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation can be available on tap to support the business at peak operating times. These can ramp down during off peak times which significantly reduces costs. Of course, the value of being able to access data in real-time cannot be ignored especially at a time where a distributed workforce has become the norm.
Using the cloud ensures companies can collaborate more effectively across a wider geographic area and are no longer limited to a traditional office building. This also brings about the introduction of flexible business practices where employees can remain available wherever they have a reliable internet connection.
Linking people to solutions
At a more practical level, going the cloud route brings many advantages for every industry sector. The key driver is to connect employees with the tools required to work via the cloud while also providing them access to the data needed to do so effectively. Today’s business focus is very much on enabling employees to access company-specific data in real-time.
For instance, a company might get a contract to clean four different sites, each with its own requirements in the cleaning sector. In the past, this entailed significant admin of providing cleaning crews with printed checklists tailored to each site. This can be removed entirely with the cloud by sending crews notifications on tablets regarding the tasks they need to accomplish at the individual sites.
The cloud can also deliver several advantages to retailers as well. For example, advanced cloud-based scheduling tools ensure that the most efficient staffing plan is produced to meet virtually any store requirement in the retail environment. When unplanned absenteeism occurs, a resource substitution tool allows the most agile and efficient substitution decision to be made by a store manager in real-time to maximise labour productivity.
Without linking data, systems, and processes to the cloud, none of this would be possible. Therefore, organisations must identify those service providers best able to deliver the compliance, disaster recovery, cybersecurity, and encryption requirements they need. Furthermore, these service providers must understand the dynamics of the South African market and empower the organisation to deliver the data-driven solutions required for today’s digital world.