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INSIGHT: Top 3 ways NZ businesses can lower Cloud costs

“Large, irregular, forecasted Capex can be replaced by smooth, predictable Opex spending."

Cloud computing is now a well-established business practice in New Zealand.

In 2013, 88 percent of Kiwi organisations already accessed emails via the cloud while many businesses also understand the financial advantages of using the cloud.

“Large, irregular, forecasted Capex can be replaced by smooth, predictable Opex spending,” explains Jack Talbot, General Manager, ICONZ-Webvisions New Zealand.

“Using cloud-based services to host your desktop, CRM, analytics and business intelligence is increasingly common. Senior executives have been quick to grasp the cost advantages.”

For Talbot, the next step is leveraging the cloud to build organisation-wide competitive advantages.

“What other aspects of your organisation should migrate (and when), to serve your customers better, faster, cheaper?” Talbot asks. “How can the cloud help differentiate your products and services?”

As the market shifts, how can the cloud’s enormous compute identify changing customer needs, target new segments and expand into new markets?

Rather than just applying the cloud for greater efficiency, Talbot asks, how can it actually fuel growth?

1 - Increase collaboration by removing constraints

“Working in the cloud removes the constraints of location and time that may be currently hindering your team,” Talbot says. “It lets your staff work from practically anywhere with an internet connection.

“Better still, true collaboration across your business can result – fostering innovation. Project teams can be brought together to share their knowledge, tapping on once remote expertise and drawing on their collective wisdom.”

According to Talbot, this expertise may have been too niche or costly to engage, up to now.

“Your organisation can benefit from increasing scale and specialisation,” he adds.

The Ministry of Education uses ICONZ-Webvisions’ cloud-based services to bring remote schools together, and provide access to learning materials not otherwise available locally.

“Through interactive e-learning, students can learn from specialist teachers dotted around the country,” Talbot adds.

2 - Big data-driven decisions

The cloud can be used to process enormous amounts of raw (big) data with the cloud’s elastic computing capacity also applied to expansive data sets.

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“Such data analysis can result in key insights and trends not yet apparent to your competitors,” Talbot adds.

“Organisations use the cloud to dig through their big data, learning customer preferences and delivering more relevant offers.”

Talbot says businesses leverage the cloud to interact with massive customer bases, and analyse data that would’ve previously been too costly or even impossible.

“Big data analysis is really driving the next wave of cloud adoption,” he adds. “Clients see opportunities earlier, react and scale accordingly.”

Similar to collaboration, information once held on branch servers and employees’ hard-drives, can now be shared across the organisation.

“This can draw out insights, leading to better decisions,” Talbot explains.

Furthermore, the cloud makes these insights available when and where it’s needed. It enables businesses to get relevant information at key decision points - guiding processes and decision makers with automated analysis in real time.

3 - Increasing agility

Also, Talbot says the scalability of cloud-based resources is already well known.

“Your organisation can seamlessly handle unexpected demand spikes (or troughs) at will - since these resources are virtual,” Talbot adds. “This is especially true for software developers.

“Animoto, an Amazon-owned start-up expanded from 50 to 3500 virtual servers within three days. The cloud reduces developers’ time to market. You can prototype new applications faster, gaining feedback and fail-faster, all at lower overall costs.”

If an organisation’s core competency does not lie in IT infrastructure, Talbot asks, why invest in these skill sets?

“Consider developing your organisation’s core competencies instead,” he advises, “whether it’s in Research and Development, marketing, logistics or manufacturing.”