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Six Key Benefits Of Cloud Services For Multi-Location/Multinational Organizations

Historically, small and mid-sized organizations located all their staff in a single site, due to the difficulty and high cost of communicating across multiple sites. The Internet changed all that. Today, relatively small organizations can have multiple sites or locations in more than one country, and employees are able to work remotely while traveling. These organizations expect employees to be highly productive, which means they need access to advanced information systems that can be accessed easily and securely from anywhere. Often the best way to provide those IT capabilities is through cloud IT applications.

The benefits of cloud services for multi-location and multinational organizations include:

1. Better network performance than data center-based services. Cloud services typically provide faster response time (from the time when you hit the enter key until the computer responds) for remote and international connections. That’s because data center networks have direct connections to telecom networks to avoid delays due to “latency”—the time and number of steps it takes for data to travel between your computer and the data system.

2. Cloud services eliminate the barriers to running standard applications in your own data center. First, the major applications—ERP and CRM—now require significant computing resources, and purchases of multiple copies of database licenses. The security, backup provisions and cloud security that would be required to run the applications in your data center are a standard part of cloud application services. Application service providers also take care of configuring interfaces with regulatory and data collection agencies, eliminating the need to re-test those interfaces each time the software is updated.

3. Cloud platforms reduce the need to have 24/7 internal IT support. If you have an in-house system, time zone differences may mean that offices outside headquarters country only receive high quality support for a couple of hours a day. In contrast, cloud platforms are built to be used on a 24/7 basis, and IT support is part of the service they offer clients.

4. The option of decentralized IT management. There are advantages to having IT teams who are in the same time zone as office staff, and are familiar with market and regulatory requirements in each area. Local business support for the applications is also valuable. Using a standard cloud IT-based application, organizations can work with a decentralized team and use targeted outside resources. Local teams will be able to work together more easily because most people will be familiar with the standard platform. The organization’s IT director can focus on company-wide decisions and policies, without having to direct what’s going on in IT in every department.

5. The opportunity to enjoy the advantages of “standardized customization.” Custom-designed applications create serious headaches when staff (particularly long-time IT staff) turns over. It can take new people several months to gain a good understanding of the code of a custom system; when an experienced developer or manager position turns over, this is a major problem. Even this time-consuming learning process will only work if there has been extremely detailed documentation of the custom system. With standardized cloud applications, there’s likely to be familiarity with the product, and little need for in-house documentation for most of the application. Standardized applications often now provide 90 percent of the functionality you want, and customization of that standard app can provide the remaining 10 percent. Customizing is often a relatively simple matter of selecting from a menu or purchasing add-ons—you no longer need to spend months or years having someone program for the capabilities you want. And when you work with standardized cloud applications, there is a large pool of coders who are familiar with the application and can provide customization.

6. Support for business process localization. When an organization works around the world, it needs to deal with differences in regulation, standards, and culture. For example, the U.S. and Europe have different requirements for data privacy. There may be regulations requiring that data be kept within the country of origin, so that a data center is required in each country. Conforming to EU requirements (GDPR) by removing information when customers request it, may raise questions in the U.S. about why you had to collect that information in the first place.

Cloud providers understand cultural differences between regions, and incorporate responses to the differing needs of each region in their systems. For example, in the U.S., cloud e-commerce applications are set up with the web processes and workflows required to accommodate customers who want to return purchases they don’t like. In Europe and Asia, customers generally can only return damaged products, and e-commerce workflows need to be set up accordingly.

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