The benefits of cloud adoption have been discussed extensively among industry experts for years, but we’ve seen a shift in discussions within businesses from the age-old questions around ‘do we adopt the cloud or don’t we?’ to more advanced discussions of ‘how will we adopt cloud to best suit our business needs?’
The advantages that can be gained from cloud technology are certainly no secret – cost and space efficiency, website resilience and security, business agility – but businesses are acknowledging that one cloud doesn’t fit all. Conversations are beginning to move more towards how they will adopt cloud: whether moving their entire infrastructure to the cloud, part of their infrastructure to the cloud or simply adopting some cloud services.
Different companies in different industries will have varying business objectives and targets and will use technology in different ways to achieve these, and we’re finally beginning to see businesses really start to consider exactly how to adopt cloud technology to make it work for them.
A handful of forward-thinking businesses across a variety of different industries have already found the right cloud solution for them.
A cloud in a cart
One of these businesses is Shop Direct – one of the UK’s largest online retailers with a number of digital department stores, including its £800m flagship brand Very.co.uk.
The online retailer is adopting a hybrid cloud model to increase flexibility and quickly respond to changes in demand as it grows. The technology will underpin the delivery of a suite of analytics, mobile, social and security offerings that will enable Shop Direct to improve its customers’ online shopping experience while empowering its workforce to collaborate more easily and improve productivity.
Delivering more than 48 million products a year to over a million daily visitors across a variety of online and mobile platforms, Shop Direct works with a diverse network of partners and vendors to provide its customers with a seamless shopping experience, to ensure it stays firmly ahead of competition in an era where customer experience is vital to purchasing decisions.
Despite turbulent times for the retail sector in recent years, another retailer, DFS, has maintained its position as the UK’s leading sofa retailer. Nevertheless, the company is not content to put its feet up and wait for the competition to gain ground, so it decided to implement an analytics solution in the cloud that would enable it to gain a better understanding of its sales, finances and operations, identify areas where it can make improvements or seize new opportunities, and encourage faster, more evidence-driven decision-making.
Cloud-based analytics enables DFS to accelerate reporting from hours to minutes, meaning that store-level comparisons and historical trends can be analysed in seconds and key daily sales figures can be sent automatically to decision-makers every morning.
With a single, trusted source of information, store managers no longer need to worry about the accuracy of data or whether everything is up to date – they can quickly identify priorities and get on with targeting their effort in the right areas to improve sales and customer satisfaction.
Sleeping on a cloud
Hospitality is another industry that is undergoing a major digital transformation. In today’s internet era, customer experience is key to influencing consumer purchasing decisions thanks to online review sites such as TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
As a result, competition is at an all-time high and hotel chains are implementing advanced technology to meet the needs of next generation travellers, retain customer loyalty, burnish brand reputation and grow revenues.
One company doing just that is Marriott International. To stay ahead of competition, the hotel chain is migrating a significant portion of its core IT systems and applications to an open cloud platform over the next few years to offer faster digital services to web-savvy guests and to discern insights about them for its more than 4,000 properties across the globe.
The hotel is also implementing cloud analytics services to see early-stage data patterns and the scale and flexibility to enable timely, innovative new services that will meet guests' expectations in a predominantly digital world.
For many years, power was something that consumers didn’t think too much about. But in recent years, climate change, rising energy prices and technology advances are all forces that have been reshaping the collective mind-set of consumers, turning many from ‘passive ratepayers’ to highly informed, environmentally conscious customers who want a role in using power.
Energy and utility companies are now challenged to deliver reliable, affordable and sustainable energy in a competitive market, and, as a result, National Grid has begun using scalable and data-driven insights that can help to modernise the utility network and improve power generation.
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National Grid has implemented cloud analytics services to improve decision making around asset health and maintenance policies. The energy company needed the ability to sweep up all the data on its assets across 350 different sites and bring it together into a single portal for further analysis to deliver value for customers moving forward.
Using cloud-based analytics, National Grid has now shifted to a condition-based preventive maintenance, and uses an online portal where it has full visibility into everything it needs to know about all of its assets. The company now also has the ability to see asset conditions and when they were last maintained, which is vital in managing risk in the business.
Every cloud, every industry
In today’s fast-paced world with high standards of data centre performance, resilience, monitoring and the availability of specialists, it’s hard for most businesses to justify maintaining in-house data centres. And these industries aren’t the only ones benefiting from cloud technology.
From underpinning transport networks in our busiest cities, to improving the quality of paediatric care by collecting and sharing knowledge to treat children dying of preventable illnesses – any business, in any industry, in any corner of the world will see incremental benefits to their business by adopting cloud technology that suits their business needs.
Sourced from Doug Clark, cloud leader, IBM UK & Ireland