Cloud, mobile, and big data: increasing the ability to communicate and make informed decisions in real-time

By: Dror Orbach

We keep hearing about how cloud computing is revolutionizing the way companies do business, but you may not necessarily know exactly how it will affect you. Chances are your business is already experiencing the impact, but perhaps you have not stopped to think about how much you are already using the cloud.

According to a recent whitepaper entitled “Unleashing the Cloud,” by Oxford Economics and SAP, the impact of cloud computing is more than through the use of mobile tools and technologies.

The rapid growth of cloud computing is changing the way business is done, and cloud-supported mobility is altering the way workers interact and how companies securely connect to their customers and business partners. The whitepaper states “The mix of cloud, mobile and big data increases the speed of decision-making, enabling a more dynamic and agile flow of information and knowledge across the globe.”

The whitepaper is based on a global survey of 200 senior businesses and IT executives with the responses broken down by geographic region or by company size.  More than 80% of respondents indicated that customer management (i.e. sales, service and support) is a key focus for mobile cloud applications in their organizations.  Interestingly enough, the percentage of small and mid-sized businesses with annual revenues under US$1 billion, having their focus on customer management, enabled by mobile cloud-based applications, was significantly higher than that of companies with revenues ranging from $1 to $9.9 billion.  The latter types of companies, demonstrated a clear leadership in using such applications to increase internal productivity.

An area briefly touched upon in the article relates to the Internet of Everything, i.e. the proliferation of devices such as embedded sensors and RFID tags, which create data in real-time and transmit it from wherever they are.  This data can then be consumed and further analyzed by other applications, enabling near real-time decisions and actions to be taken based on dynamic, frequently changing circumstances.

Other considerations highlighted by the whitepaper have to do with the type of infrastructure required to support mobile cloud-based applications and with the ability to address security concerns.

Having mentioned all of the above, I’d like to focus on two of the eight key factors identified by the whitepaper as being a key driver to optimal results from cloud-platform investments:

  1. Connectivity between mobile cloud and on-premise systems: Companies need business processes to work reliably and seamlessly while leveraging a combination of different fixed and mobile access devices, as well as mobile or cloud apps and central business management systems (such as ERP.)  For this to occur, the proper level of integration needs to exist between the different solution components.  For example, data representing a single business entity (e.g. a customer, employee, project, product, part) needs to have the same meaning, format, validation, data integrity and access authorization rules across these different components.  When a mobile platform, cloud application and central system of record each come from different sources, achieving the right level of integration may become quite onerous.  Software platforms that can provide consistency and a level of pre-integration between these components may reduce the necessary effort and risk.
  1. Silos between departmental boundaries must be breached: Business workflows addressing end-to-end processes often cross departmental boundaries, but mobile and cloud applications may typically address just a slice of such processes and be used by just one particular department that is part of a broader workflow.  Understanding these cross-departmental workflows in advance and taking them into account when considering the integration needs mentioned above can help companies drive better results from their cloud and mobile investments.

How is your organization using the cloud and mobile applications?  What is the right level of application separation vs. integration in your organization when considering these new technological capabilities?

If you wish to read the full whitepaper “Unleashing the Cloud”, please click here