Don’t worry: No matter how long you’ve been putting it off, the best time to move to cloud computing is right now.

While it may sometimes seem like every other organization has left the world of locally-installed software and hardware behind, the fact is a lot of companies decided to wait it out while some of the early questions around cloud computing were answered. These included cost, the reliability of such services, the challenges over who would emerge as leading providers and whether or not working in the cloud was secure. If you’re just starting on a cloud computing journey today, you’ll likely discover those concerns have largely been addressed.

Instead, the notion of a cloud-based business has become so commonplace that to ignore the cloud altogether can seem like a bit of an anomaly. Think about the startups who have been cloud-based from the very beginning, or the fact that even some of the largest financial institutions and government agencies now talk about having a “cloud-first” approach when they think about new technology investments.

Those who have opted out until now, meanwhile, have probably done so for a very logical and understandable reason: making such a change gets in the way of other things that may seem like a higher priority. Most companies are so focused on building their brand, generating revenue and providing the best possible customer experience, in other words, that they simply haven’t carved out the time and resources to begin adopting cloud services.

Eventually, however, everyone from suppliers and customers may come to expect your firm to offer the same kind of benefits that many cloud-based businesses enjoy. To that end, let’s chart a course to the cloud that won’t become overwhelming or put your company in a position to fall short of its goals in what’s left of this year and through 2019.
 

Talk to Your Smartest Peer (or Customer)


Competitors may have already moved at least part of their hardware the cloud, or have begun to adopt software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in various parts of their business. It may be difficult, at least at first, to figure out what they’re doing, which is why you might want to reach out to your counterparts in a non-competitive but similar business instead. Another option is to discuss cloud computing with a customer you know is already further along in using hosted IT and SaaS tools. Some common questions to kick-start the conversation include:

  • What was the key business driver that made cloud computing essential? (This helps build your own business case.)
  • How did you decide you’d measure return on investment (ROI)?
  • How did you move away from more traditional processes, such as managing information in spreadsheets and other “on-premise” software programs?
  • What have been the biggest surprises -- good or bad? Any advice on making the move?

Even if some of the details of what you hear don’t directly apply to your company, they might help spark some ideas around how you’ll need to develop your own plan of attack.

Assess What Staying Out of the Cloud is Costing You


Ever since the cloud emerged years ago, there have been ongoing debates around how such services affect capital expenditures, operating costs and a host of other financial considerations. There has been substantially less talk, however, about the opportunity cost of staying away from the cloud. In other words, are there ways in which sticking with the way business has always been done could hurt your firm in some way?

Consider the following areas:
 

Productivity


How much time does your team spend hunting through multiple on-premise systems for the right information? To what extent are your team members desk-bound when they could be handling more of their work through SaaS tools while on the road?
 

Flexibility


Cloud-based firms can often automatically upgrade to the latest versions of the tools they use and take advantage of the newest features. If you have to keep buying such things, how long does that take and what kind of integration challenges might it pose?
 

Customer experience


When demand suddenly spikes -- like a rush of orders to your e-commerce site, for example -- cloud-based businesses can quickly “scale up” to meet it. Those who don’t use the cloud, on the other hand, might have an outage. What are some other scenarios where you might be losing business or hurting your reputation with customers by not using the cloud?
 

Test-Pilot the Cloud in a Non-Critical Area


Becoming cloud-based takes more than flipping a switch, and doesn’t have to comprise a single “before/after” migration. Instead, many businesses move one area of their business to the cloud first to get an understanding of the impact.

Think about the way a company might store many of its older records, for instance -- there are many cloud-based storage options which could house such information that aren’t likely to pose a lot of risk.

Once you’ve taken some baby steps, you’ll be ready to try things like cloud-based CRM to see what it can do to increase your volume of closed deals. Before long, you may find you move everything else to the cloud as well.

If becoming a cloud-based business isn’t among your resolutions for 2019, it should be. Making the move is faster, easier, and more compelling for growing businesses than ever.