Big data analytics are essential for measuring business success. But if you haven’t moved your analytics to the cloud, you could be missing out on a goldmine of hidden insights that modern tools will help you unlock. Let’s discuss those tools and their benefits…
What is cloud data?
Cloud data refers to any kind of business intelligence or data analytics process being performed in the cloud as opposed to an on-premise server. So, you use the tools available on cloud platforms to analyse your data.
What are the benefits of cloud data?
1. Easy to scale up and down
Scalability is a key benefit of the cloud. In contrast to an on-premise server where you’d need to invest in more hardware to increase or decrease your data storage/capacity, scaling up and down on the cloud is easy.
Plus, it can be ready for you within minutes, rather than days or even weeks as is often the case with on-premise.
Elasticity is also built into the system. So, whether you have 10 users or 1,000, , the analytics tools will continue to work smoothly. Of course, once you reach your user limit, you’ll need to upgrade your account.
But up until that point, built-in elasticity means the cloud data analytics platform can handle more activity without overall performance taking a hit.
2. Centralises data
Cloud analytics tools can bring together data from multiple sources, regardless of whether they’re on-prem or cloud-based. This can create a unified approach to data, making it easier for anyone within your organisation to access the data they need.
Which leads us onto the next benefit…
3. Eliminates siloes
Thanks to the cloud’s ability to consolidate data from multiple sources, it can break down organisational siloes. How? Well, for starters, it’s easier for your teams to find the data they need and collaborate on solutions - whether it’s managed by their department or not.
You’ll find that once operational staff are enabled with a little training will begin to create and share their own visualisations, bringing focus to the pain points within your business. This ultimately helps you to quickly manage and resolve them.
Data can be refreshed in real time which translates into efficiency gains as outdated information becomes a thing of the past. Thanks to the cloud, your teams can quickly access data, share insights, collaborate, efficiently communicate and work more productively. All of which can give your business a competitive advantage.
4. Improves productivity
Mentioned briefly above, cloud platforms collect and store data in one location. This means it’s much easier for your teams to find and share the data they need.
But with all this freedom comes a need for data governance. Modern cloud data analytics tools, such as PowerBI, rely on the familiar security tools, like active directory, that users already know – which drives safer, faster adoption.
Less time spent searching for information and other administrative tasks means more time spent on business-critical jobs - like analysing data. So, cloud data boosts productivity.
5. Setup is typically faster and costs less
With on-prem platforms, you’re responsible for purchasing and setting up all the relevant hardware and software. Not only is this equipment expensive, implementation can typically take a while because you need to integrate this system with your other business systems.
In comparison, the cloud can be set up within minutes. And all the costs associated with setup are taken care of by the vendor.
6. You’re not responsible for maintenance
If you choose on-prem platforms, you’re responsible for maintaining the servers - such as ensuring they’re kept in the optimum environment. With the cloud, all that maintenance is the responsibility of the vendor.
You can still stay in control by working with a partner like Columbus to build robust lifecycle management processes for evergreen solutions.
7. You’re not responsible for data security
When it comes to data security, it’s easy to assume it’s safer with on-prem solutions. After all, the data is stored on your servers so you can access it as and when and protect it however you like.
However, that’s the crux of the matter. With on-premise, you’re totally responsible for data security. The 24/7 manpower and the costs associated - that’s all on you.
Reputable SaaS vendors will dedicate high-quality security experts to monitor your data round-the-clock, detecting breaches within minutes and finding a resolution. This can take weeks or even months with on-premise because your in-house teams may be busy with other tasks.
It’s important to keep your systems on the latest versions if you’re to follow security best practices. With the cloud, SaaS vendors automatically release technical and functional updates on a continuous basis.
There are two benefits of this:
- You don’t have to keep track - they’ll notify you
- The system’s always improving so it’s easier to stay ahead of the competition
With on-prem alternatives, that’s your responsibility. And because on-prem platforms tend to be highly bespoke, updates can end up being full systems upgrades - much more complex than simply clicking a ‘update now’ button for the cloud.
8. Use advanced analytics and gain new business insights
Once your data is in the cloud, plugging it into an advanced analytics tool could reveal hidden insights or help you predict future business conditions which, during these times of uncertainty, can bring real competitive advantage.
Having your data managed via one trusted cloud platform, with the ability to flow between services that enrich, enhance and distribute it securely, is of clear benefit. This is especially the case when you consider past alternatives that were often expensive to integrate and maintain.
9. Breathes new life into your operations
Enhancing older on-prem solutions is also possible - if you take a hybrid approach. View a cloud data platform, like that from Microsoft, as a unified set of linked tools that can solve many business problems. This sparks ideas that can revitalise the business processes that need it most.
Let’s say you take an older on-prem ERP solution and present it to users on the road. This example is just the first step of an approach that could revolutionise how you serve your customers and employees.
As we’ve already said, once data is in a secure cloud, it can be accessed easily from anywhere. Tools like the Power Platform make this possible, when you go beyond simple Power BI reporting. Adding new functionality to do business via mobile apps is a common way that organisations are adapting to a rapidly changing environment.
Self-service is also becoming an expectation of many consumers. Tools like Power Apps, coupled with Microsoft’s Common Data Platform, make this possible, wherever you do business.
Maximise the benefits of the cloud with a digital-first mindset
Although it depends on the sensitivity of the data you’re analysing, as a whole, the cloud option is almost always better than on-premise.
Choosing cloud SaaS for your data analytics is one step towards digitally transforming your business. The next? Changing your business mindset and creating a shared vision across the company. Change management is just as important as implementing the right technology.
This is exactly what we cover in our guide - how to prepare your business for digital innovation and execute your plan the right way. Want to learn more? Click the button below.