How cloud services drive digital transformation

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cloud technology is a golden opportunity to use digital transformation as a springboard to grow stronger, enhance flexibility and think more innovatively. But so many SMEs have yet to exploit the full potential of this innovative approach to IT infrastructures – an approach offering new setups with added computing power, storage and software, all at the touch of a button. Not only does the cloud help cut the cost of running existing processes, it also opens the door to a whole variety of digital services with added business potential.

Cloud solutions have never been more popular in Germany. In 2017, a good two-thirds of German firms with 20 employees or more were tapping into computer services on the web. Roughly half of them were using applications through a private cloud and just under a third were using public cloud solutions*. When asked why, they said they valued the anyplace-anytime access to IT resources and high levels of availability. Hybrid solutions are also becoming increasingly popular among SMEs. These combine the high security standards of a private cloud – particularly important for sensitive company information – with the flexibility of a public cloud for less business-critical applications. For a long time, many companies felt hesitant about shifting processes to external systems, but (particularly among the more professionally set up SMEs) this sentiment has now given way to the realisation that company data is then often much safer from criminal attacks than if it’s stored in IT systems at the company.

For many industrial enterprises, it’s becoming increasingly important to salvage valuable data, some of which may have been lying fallow for some time, so they don’t lose competitive edge. Continuously evaluating data in the cloud offers some highly effective options for improving production and the supply chain. The cloud can be a huge help in understanding production data, optimising a whole host of business processes and creating space for machine learning.

Pinpointing the right cloud solutions requires the right IT expertise

Applications in growth areas like the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) require significant capabilities in terms of business agility, flexibility and scalability. As a result, cloud computing plays a pivotal role as an IT architecture model in driving digital solutions. Companies can, however, go much further than simply shift their processes from different departments onto the web – from financial accounting to material planning. They can gain a 360° view of the customer, offering different ways to intensify customer ties by tapping into different digital tools. But to fully exploit this potential, they need an IT partner at their side, someone who is fully versed in such areas. Without the right expertise on board, the journey will often be a short one, simply because a firm may not understand which cloud scenarios best match its business. Staff may not possess the required digital know-how, or management may not consider the cloud enough of a priority. Exasperating project cancellations and costly mis-investments could be practically pre-programmed.

GFT has already worked on a large number of successful transformation projects. Our clients value our wealth of project experience and our exposure to leading technology, much of this stemming from close collaboration with top companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft. As experts in digital transformation, we offer plenty of practical front-line experience in production – not only with cloud development and infrastructure: naturally, our service portfolio also spans microservices and machine learning. This comprehensive range of services makes it easy for smaller industrial enterprises to see the commercial benefits of cloud technology, which can then be implemented and scaled up.

An example of how this works can be seen with the cloud-based platform Cumulocity IoT, which makes it possible to run several machines and other units through a central solution by connecting them up through the internet. Data flows are evaluated automatically and turned around to help manage and monitor processes. This provides a basis for a variety of cloud-based IoT services, solutions that can be extremely useful to the business. Another advantage is that even if there’s a rise in requirements further down the line, the platform expands accordingly. No more worrying about the risks of higher outlays just because you need more flexibility. The company only pays for the IT resources it actually needs. This allows SMEs to focus again on their core business – without relinquishing their leading position in technology.

*Source: Cloud-Monitor 2018, Bitkom Research + KPMG

To find out more about the new segment at GFT – Industry – go to our website or have a look at additional blog posts of our industry 4.0 series.

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