Steve Hannon, Google Cloud Specialist, Cloud Technology Solutions
The UK is in the midst of a productivity crisis. Despite relatively high employment levels, worker output has not correlated with this positive trend. There may be a high proportion of the UK population in work, but they are not producing as much as they could be.
The productivity gap is a key concern for public and private sector organisations. It’s a complex issue, but one which innovative technology can help address through the collaboration and remote working opportunities offered by cloud technology.
We have seen increasing rates of cloud adoption in the UK – and this has gone hand in hand with greater understanding of what the cloud is. Increasingly, organisations have come to understand the cloud as a delivery model through which users connect to their data, documents and information online. By using cloud technology and cloud-enabled productivity platforms, such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365, workers can collaborate anytime, anywhere.
Taken together, these two developments can have a significant impact on productivity. Rather than having to work through several iterations of separate documents, with each individually amended, saved onto a central server system and then emailed to a new recipient, the cloud allows for real-time collaboration that speeds up working processes. This saves time and money by allowing employees to work on the same document with their colleagues.
Working remotely also brings significant productivity benefits. For example, being unable to make it into the office no longer means being restricted from accessing documents stored on a central server. Using cloud technology, collaborative documents can be accessed from anywhere, anytime.
Modernising IT infrastructure also presents opportunities for businesses to improve both the agility and reliability of their IT systems. One of the big advantages of cloud infrastructure is that it is extremely scalable, and therefore offers significant operational flexibility. This is because the infrastructure effectively already exists off-site and organisations need only to subscribe to access it. They do not need to invest in on-premises hardware.
If an organisation wants to significantly increase its IT infrastructure, it can do so quickly and easily. If it wants to scale down it can do so too. Crucially, it does not have to worry about the costs associated with expanding hardware that could become redundant in the event that IT infrastructure is scaled down. This means cloud infrastructure is ideally suited to meeting the needs of growing businesses and those which face fluctuating demand for bandwidth.
Modern cloud infrastructure is not only scalable, but reliable too. Regular software updates to cloud infrastructure are taken care of by the suppliers of that infrastructure. Organisations don’t have to worry about their IT systems falling out of date or having to regularly update their systems. In turn, reliability issues associated with out-of-date software are mitigated – a bonus that can deliver significant operational efficiencies.
For companies across the UK, the benefits of the collaboration, increased operational flexibility and improved reliability realised through cloud migration are compelling. However, there is another key benefit cloud infrastructure can deliver – the ability to innovate with big data.
Organisations are becoming increasingly data-rich, thanks to the increasing volume of data collected from customers and other external sources, as well as through the process of digitising previously manual internal records. The proliferation of vast swathes of data offers a treasure trove of information for organisations looking to uncover previously unidentified business insights.
Cloud infrastructure services, such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP), offer the easiest path for organisations to tap into machine learning, and the ability to generate real-time insights and predictive analysis from big data. GCP’s Machine Learning Engine has opened up the opportunity for a much greater range of businesses and organisations to build their own data warehouses. Here, integrated data from multiple sources is stored and business insights can be created by processing, predicting and analysing thousands of terabytes of data.
This allows businesses to generate forecasts spanning five to ten years into the future – to predict sales trends for example. The storage of this data also allows for real-time insights to be created. These insights can be used to make more informed operational decisions, which in turn can help boost efficiency and productivity.
Overall, while the UK’s problem with productivity is complex, innovation in technology undeniably has a role to play in addressing the challenges. Cloud technology holds the potential to have a transformative effect for businesses which embrace it. Through greater efficiency, improved business insights and better-informed decisions, cloud technology can help the UK boost its productivity significantly.
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