It doesn’t take very long in our industry to birth a new IT buzz word. Only a few years ago the new IT buzz word was “Cloud”. Then very soon, the “buzz” word becomes a commonly used term in our vocabulary until the next new buzz word is birthed. “The Cloud” is now the new normal in terms of hosting applications and files. As the cloud continued to rapidly gain momentum over the past years, it has now well and truly permeated the business technology space and established itself as a reliable and cost effective platform to not just host and share files and folders but even complex ERP, CPM and BI solutions.

How did this happen? Businesses that were so concerned about data security and control have now begun to embrace the cloud as a platform and are even seeing it as the future.

The early days of the cloud created a serious concern for security. Additionally, leaving the comfort, familiarity and control of an on premise solution with a dedicated IT team and outsourcing it all to someone else, was an ideology that seemed radical. As human beings, we are creatures of habit who don’t easily trust the unknown. The cloud was clearly a disruption to the norm….even dismissed off by some skeptics as a hype that will soon fade away.

With enterprise organisations using the cloud, we are talking about tons and tons of data, much of which are sensitive information that reveals the health and inner processes of the organisation. It doesn’t take a genius to know that this information would be catastrophic in the hands of competitors. Additionally, it would also reveal confidential information about staff, considering that payroll and HR manage a large amount of data. In other words, internet security was a major hurdle. Where’s the fear disappeared to?

I personally think whoever thought of naming the technology as “cloud” did a brilliant job. It took the traditional brick and mortar of the on premise technology, knocked down all walls, uprooted it from its foundations and ascended it to a space that is infinite. Over the past few years, though slowly, the cloud has certainly gained market confidence exponentially.  It’s interesting though to note that despite the recent uptick in hacking and internet security flaws albeit in the political realm, it has not had much impact in the business world. Has the benefits of the cloud finally sunk in?

Security which was such a major concern seems to no longer be an issue. Internet security has evolved over time, not just as a response to customer concerns but as a robust defence against the vulnerabilities of the internet in general. So much so that complex business applications such as ERP, Payroll systems, CPM and BI solutions are now finding the cloud a very viable and cost effective platform. The vulnerability is now not so much of a concern. More and more organisations seem to now embrace the cloud as a technology of choice. Have you noticed, it only takes a few well known global conglomerates to take the lead and the rest of the market follows? This is good; because as with every new technology, the more the organisations embrace it, the more robust and reliable it becomes. The market demand in itself creates an environment for enhancement and further development.  

Today, many organisations have either moved away from on premise solutions or are in the process of moving away from on premise solutions to the cloud. The cloud has made producing and distributing reports and dashboards so much easier and accessible. Accessing multiple data sources and housing data in a central data warehouse to complex data analysis, budgeting and forecasting are all now possible via the cloud with little to no local infrastructure or even a team of IT geeks on premise. I know of a rather medium to large organisation employing over 100 staff, using Dynamics AX Manufacturing (now Dynamics 365), with a data warehouse and a CPM solution all on the cloud with just one IT person on staff. Isn’t that incredible?

The cloud has become a very convenient and efficient avenue to gain access to business critical information to a geographically distributed team of users. The ease of accessibility is clearly a major selling point, not to mention the significant reduction in operational costs. As BI and CPM on the cloud are only available through Software as a Service, organisations pay a vendor a nominal fee to manage the software, roll out updates, deploy new features and functions and ensure the software runs as expected to. Additionally, organisations are only paying a small amount per month for access to rather complex applications whilst still getting all the benefits as opposed to investing in a lump sum upfront for products that seemingly depreciate in value real fast. What’s more? Organisations now have the flexibility to switch over to a complete new solution when the need arises without having to worry about wasted investment in a product that has reached the end of its life cycle. Keeping track of timely upgrades and updates to new software releases, maintaining data integrity and managing backups are a thing of the past.

Its only with the release of the cloud did one begin to realise how much an on premise solution actually costed.

Yes, it has been a slow adoption AND probably still a few ways to go before on premise is put to rest,   but a financial system, an operational report writer, budgeting and forecasting solution are not something that can change platforms overnight.  It will take a while, but we are moving in only one direction. It is a matter of time. Regardless, here we are today. ERP, BI and CPM solutions on the cloud are greatly successful and for very good reasons. A comprehensive cloud based CPM will ideally help organisations navigate the cloud world by providing an easy pre-built and yet customizable data warehouse to centralize disparate data sources; that are both on cloud and on premise and make data analysis, reporting, budgeting and forecasting a task any user can undertake without much stress. Microsoft Power BI, Solver’s BI360 are two of my favourite tools, but I am sure there are other equally good ones out there.

Do feel free to write to me at santoshc@olympic.co.nz for any questions, advise or assistance with implementing a BI or CPM solution.