With the recent and ongoing Covid-19 sanitary crisis, many businesses adopted cloud solutions – sometimes by necessity and sometimes by choice. As often noticed during previous crises, the markets, companies and people adapt to this new situation and it is commonly associated to innovation.
This general adoption for cloud solutions has generated a global interest and appetite for more solutions and services built and hosted in the cloud. However, looking back, the question that many businesses are still having is ‘what is the value for my business of going to the cloud?’!
The answer to this question is rather complex, and of course depends on the company, its size, its sector of activity but also on the solutions that are being used. Indeed, at the beginning of the crisis, there was an influx of companies migrating to cloud collaboration tools such as Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s Workspace (previously G-suite) but now, with most companies being equipped and their employees having assimilated the new technologies, this trend is changing to business-centric tools.
As much as collaboration tools increase the productivity, communication and agility of a company’s workforce, the real value of adopting the cloud really emerges when the adoption is larger, and the company eventually commits on doing the move. Indeed, in the last few years, software editors have developed, designed and conceived a large amount of applications in the cloud, which allow small, medium and large businesses to have top-class tools at an affordable price adapted to their size and their number of employees. The particularity of the cloud model and billing is that small or large business can have the same tools, with a user-based price but world-scale service – opening new perspectives to many businesses that are now able to address a global market from a local office, and therefore facilitating their growth and flexibility.
During the last years, access to IT solutions and services has been democratised and has become a commodity more than a luxury. This applies to businesses but also to start-ups – which are the risk-takers and innovators of many industries by creating new tools, often in the cloud, and addressing markets in new ways, disrupting their sector of activity. As a result, many companies are now (re)focusing on their business by betting on IT being an enabler rather than a constraint. This translates into a massive adoption of business-centric tools. Business-centric tools are typically provided as software as a service (SaaS), accessible very easily and adopted in a very fast manner. Indeed, onboarding an employee or adopting the solution can often be reduced to the filling of an online form and accepting online terms and conditions. Making it accessible even to novice users without much IT background. Even the maintenance and updates of such solutions is, in most cases, reduced to a click on an update button or even completely managed by the cloud service provider – making it completely transparent to the users and companies subscribed to those services.
Luxembourg regulations as an enabler
In Luxembourg, with a large portion of companies being regulated, adopting cloud solutions has always been complicated due to a strict regulatory framework. With this framework being now well understood by local companies and providers, the local market has adapted in order to build a complete service portfolio and a set of processes and governance that leverage the requirements of local regulations. This allows companies to use regulations as an enabler rather than a limitation – putting Luxembourg, its companies and its providers in a unique position with specific terms and conditions, features and control over their cloud services avoiding a ‘black-box’ principle often associated with cloud solutions. However, this increase in flexibility and agility provided by those solutions, which are sometimes adopted by employees without validation from IT departments or their management, is also the leading cause for shadow IT. This translates into one of the biggest challenges for IT departments, who often have to add a solution to their software portfolio in a reactive matter rather than a pre-active one – having to implement a solution without knowing whether it matches the company policies in regards to security, regulations, etc.
Security in the cloud
Finally yet importantly, the adoption of cloud often raises questions in relation to security, as businesses tend to believe that cloud solutions are less secure than their non-cloud counterparts are. This is a preconceived idea, which is, in many cases, not correct. Indeed, cloud service providers such as Microsoft or Google have been investing massively into security-related services and making it an integral part of their services – with security by design as one of their core principles. Last year, Microsoft reported an average yearly investment of $1 billion per year in cybersecurity – more than most providers would ever spend.
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