The cloud can be a scary place, especially for enterprise-level resource planning (ERP). Putting sensitive data out there in the wild and woolly world of online storage can feel like a gamble.
And yet, with the business world increasingly depending on remote teams and off-site workers, having access to job-critical data from anywhere is essential.
What’s more, aligning the individual actions of departments with overall goals demands using a comprehensive program that can be updated in real time. To reinforce this demand, a recent survey revealed that nearly half (49 percent) of executive-level managers believe that cloud computing has the potential to transform their businesses.
They are right, yet full-scale adoption of the cloud has been slow. Why?
Many companies fear the cloud. They worry about the security of their data and having access to it when required. It’s a big change and change is often scary. But change is also necessary in the rapidly developing business world, which means moving at least part of every ERP to the cloud is a must, especially in order to stay competitive.
To help companies understand both the necessity and stability of ERP cloud platforms, here are four fears which are holding enterprises back from massive benefits.
Data and Infrastructure Security
Arguably the biggest risk on the minds of companies is how safe their system will be in cloud. They believe they would be a lot more susceptible to breaches, which would not only impact the daily running of business, but put them in severe trouble with the law if customer data is compromised.
The reality is data may actually be safer with a cloud ERP provider. Google’s recent release of their own “Cloud Security Scanner” is a perfect example of this.
Cloud providers’ infrastructures are more robustly than that of most individual corporations. On top of that, they have highly-trained staff dedicated to handling data security because data is the focus of their businesses.
This means any cloud provider worth its weight is far more likely to keep their systems updated to minimize the effects of new security threats as they come along.
Even international providers are subject to strict data protection and security regulations.
The risk of losing large-scale clients if their system is breached is very real. And that’s why they have a deeply vested interest in keeping you safe.
Your own IT department, on the other hand, might overlook certain security flaws or delay repairs because of lack of time, expertise and resources. They are too busy setting up and fixing things as they go wrong to find time to protect you before they do.
It should be noted a recent survey found that most IT experts said “that they’re most worried about threats reaching the network from the outside in, with the endpoint the source of greatest risk.”
Another concern companies have with cloud-based ERPS is with the performance and response time of applications outside of the company’s control. Many assume that on-site systems would move a lot faster than the remote alternative.
Not only is this false for the same reason as above – cloud ERP providers have a vested interest in providing better, faster, smoother run systems than those in-house – but there are a host of other real-time benefits of cloud systems that far outweigh the possibility of slower performance.
One major benefit of using cloud ERP software is accessibility for remote employees and those distributed across large geographical areas. Workforces are now global and need to be remotely connected all the time. Additionally, both suppliers and clients are global.
With cloud ERPs, you also have much greater flexibility and room to grow quickly. While your in-house system may need significant upgrades to expand effectively, a cloud ERP will accommodate growth as well as maximize usage, both with lower costs. And with the availability of more server space, using Big Data to improve your business performance is far more accessible.
Businesses which already use third-party software with their ERPs might be concerned that these won’t work well with cloud ERP systems. Those concerns magnify if these third-party tools have been used for a long time and store a job-critical data.
But delaying the inevitable process of transferring to newer software won’t make operating your business any easier.
Plus, if businesses are using well-known software, like SAP or Salesforce for customer relationship management, third-party integration is a top priority.
There are also numerous cloud ERP providers to choose from, based on the company’s particular needs, so they are not limited on options.
Make sure that the third-party applications essential to your business are already supported by whichever cloud-service you choose. Don’t be fooled by slick demos or future promises.
Upgrades and Testing
Every experienced system administrator knows this scenario: you spend hours working on an upgrade and running user stories in your testing environment, but when you finally deploy it to your main system, something goes wrong. In fact, sometimes everything goes wrong.
Suddenly you find yourself desperately writing patches to get your system functioning again, all while your company operations are lagging and management is making decisions on flawed information. It’s a mess.
The assumption is that doing all of this with a remote cloud system would be even more of a nightmare, which of course isn’t the case.
Finding an ERP provider that guides you through the entire testing process, especially for the cloud, has huge benefits. For example, when high-tech manufacturer Entegris upgraded their SAP platform they partnered with ERP-provider Panaya. By running 5,400 tests on 2,700 test scripts, the two were able to save 50 percent on code corrections and 30 percent on outsourcing costs compared to previous upgrades.
Embracing Cloud ERPs
It’s clear that businesses see the value in cloud-based systems. Nonetheless, fear holds many back.
Simply put, companies that don’t adopt new technologies to improve their operations and stay ahead of the competition will soon become irrelevant.
In today’s hyper-competitive environment, that is the last thing anyone wants to be.
Also, read our report on: Debunking the top 5 myths preventing businesses from adopting the cloud
Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons license
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