Cloud technology is the top digital disruptor in business today, providing opportunities to innovate processes and help businesses get ahead of their competition. Cloud infrastructure, and as an extension mobile technology, allows businesses to integrate systems and tap into applications without needing to purchase expensive licenses and programs.
‘Future-proofing’ through mobile and cloud technology is crucial for businesses big and small.
An example of industry-wide digital disruption
In my own industry (the hospitality industry), mobile and cloud technology is quickly transforming not only the way a business is managed, but also how customers can find and interact with it.
It’s been fascinating to watch the industry’s shift towards cloud and mobile technologies, largely because of the consumerisation of IT. We’ve all become used to using fast and intuitive technology in our everyday lives, and now both customers and employees are demanding this type of technology be adopted by the industry. Just look at how quickly the iPad went from being a consumer device to a POS terminal.
The advantages of cloud technology
A recent Deloitte report looked at how digital disruption is affecting businesses and how well they are responding to minimise the threats and maximise the opportunities presented by this change. It highlighted that this digital revolution is not a function of technology, but rather an evolution in business.
The report identified a number of industries ripe for digital disruption in the next three years including retail, hospitality, finance and professional services. For these businesses, digital disruption will be explosive and immediate – a force that rocks their foundations. It poses a big threat, but for savvy business owners digital innovation will be the cornerstone for future value creation. However, those who are not open to technological change – including cloud – are at risk of being left behind.
Let’s look at the benefits of adopting cloud technology.
1. Information in real time
Instead of waiting weeks or months for reports and analyses on how variables – such as the weather or public holidays – affect your business in terms of sales; businesses can access data in real-time and from anywhere (via a mobile device) through applications in the cloud. This information can help business owners manage stock levels, sales and staffing more efficiently by identifying trends more quickly.
2. Cost effective
Although the initial spend to move part or all of the business to the cloud might be costly, ultimately it can lead to a significant reduction in hardware and software expenses. There will be reduced costs around maintenance, replacement and updating, which makes mobile and cloud technology more accessible for smaller businesses.
3. Increases competitiveness
As well as being more cost-effective, cloud technology has levelled the playing field for small businesses, giving them access to the same technology that was once reserved for the bigger and better resourced companies. Now businesses of any size can have access to up-to-date, enterprise-level software, security and performance. Better yet, these services can scale up or down to match the immediate needs of a business without too much impact on the bottom line.
4. Greater flexibility
The ability to access business platforms from the cloud can improve flexibility for business owners. It will enable them to run their business remotely but still have access to important information they need. This, of course, offers particular benefits for owners or managers that have multiple sites to manage, allowing them to perform management tasks, collaborate with co-workers, monitor projects and make key business decisions based on real-time reports without having to be on-site to do so.
5. Access to mobile apps
Cloud technology powers the vast array of mobile apps now available. The hospitality industry in particular has been quick to embrace the ‘app-economy’, which has allowed businesses to get closer to the customer and improve the customer experience. For example, customers can now order a coffee remotely with Beat the Q, or book a table using Dimmi. They can open and close a bar tab without handing over their card through Aston Club, or make a delivery order with a few taps through Menulog. Such apps also enable business owners to reach new customers, optimise table use, reduce labour costs and promote specials during slow periods – ultimately increasing profits.
Apps aren’t just permeating the hospitality industry though. Whatever your sector, there will be a myriad of apps being used by your customers, your partners and your competitors.
6. Technology integration
Another benefit of the cloud is the ability to connect different tools for more efficient processes. For example, a number of business systems (including ours) connect to accounting platforms such as MYOB and Xero to make accounting and payroll quicker and easier for businesses. Another example is Salesforce, a CRM system in the cloud. It connects to any number of apps a business might use for sales, customer service, marketing, HR, finance, analytics and more, so customer information can be collected and used across the whole of the business. These are just a few examples of how technology integrations make business management quicker, easier and more cost-effective.
We have seen many savvy owner-operators be quick to adopt new technologies to deliver significant benefits to the business. As always, it’s important to adapt to survive.
Sean O’Meara is the founder of ImPOS, a point of sale solution provider for the hospitality industry.