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Building a Smart Business Through Cloud-Based Enterprise Automation

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Anand Srinivasan
August 24, 2015

Anand Srinivasan

Anand is an independent consultant based in Bangalore, India. He advises small businesses on their strategy in the online segment.

Anand Srinivasan has written 7 articles for WebKnowHow.
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Until recently, a small business’ entire stock of IT resources consisted of an Internet-connected computer, an email client, a spreadsheet software, and some sort of accounting application. It was as simple as it could get, especially for businesses that do not maintain a dedicated IT staff. Beyond this, the expense was seen as so astronomical that small businesses would usually wait until they grew significantly before consolidating their capital and creating a strong IT infrastructure.

The business software environment has changed radically since then. The various cloud delivery models now provide an attractive means for entrepreneurs to better engage in applications and services without the need to worry about high upfront costs usually related to establishing an on-premises IT infrastructure. With scalable services like AWS, Azure, Rackspace and other cloud infrastructure and service providers, an entrepreneur can build and launch a product quickly and on his or her own terms.

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Going beyond cloud web hosting, however, software-as-a-service (SaaS) holds more promise than just providing access to data on-the-go. With automation platforms residing on the cloud, companies can take better advantage of products that optimize their business processes, reduce cost and improve productivity.

Reducing the Pains of Change Management

Application code has a notorious way of introducing new challenges for businesses at each new iteration or update. This is especially true for very large-scale applications that have a very large amount of dependencies and customizations. Because of the complicated nature of change management, businesses often neglect to update their enterprise software for fear of encountering complications that could negatively impact productivity.

However, a poorly-implemented upgrade process can cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars, just as popular chocolate brand Hershey’s found out when it scrambled to upgrade its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in time for the new millennium. Because the company rushed to finish its ERP update, it failed to complete proper testing procedures and could not process $100 million in orders during peak season. As a result, its stock price fell by 8%, all because of a botched ERP upgrade process.

Such a complicated problem now has a simple solution in the cloud, with service providers accomplishing automation tasks right on the cloud. With Panaya’s Cloud Quality Suite, for example, businesses can simply upload their ERP schema, and the service will automatically spot potential errors in the upgrade, patching or update process, all within a secure cloud environment.

Rollouts and upgrades are run through big data analytics to ensure that any existing conflicts in the code can be resolved before final implementation. Financially, this presents the advantage of minimizing productivity losses and enhancing application productivity. These translate to a higher ROI.

Leveraging the Benefits of Big Data

The more information you have about a customer, the better ability you have in optimizing business processes and improving the user experience to ensure higher ROI. Businesses are now taking advantage of the benefits of collecting, processing and analyzing big data in order to enhance their ability to target the right products or messaging at the right customer.

The use of big data has a net positive impact in a business’ ability to make decisions. It can also help you understand where your business is experiencing pitfalls. But having data isn’t quite enough to build a veritable empire out of nothing. You also need to have the analytics capability to understand what it is telling you. For that, there are several software suites that help you make correlations and causalities between different sets of data in such a way that they paint a picture or tell a story.

Big data analytics platforms, such as Humanixbi’s InPsych, utilizes big data in determining heuristics relevant to a person’s propensity to make a purchase. Several factors are brought into the picture, and the cloud-based platform makes recommendations on which particular customers to target for better conversions or even repeat sales.

Keeping Track with the Internet of Things

Devices are getting smaller and more powerful as each chip technology generation passes. Chances are you have a smartphone that fits on the palm of your hand, but has at least the same computing power that a room-sized computer would have had in the start of the 21st century. With low-power transceivers and mesh networking, sensor technology is now being implemented in objects like ID cards and throughout the supply chain, making it easier to track shipments, raw materials and even employees. The internet-of-things (IoT) also contributes to collection of data in unprecedented ways.

On the HR front, businesses are now encouraging the use of connected fitness bands to help employees keep track of their activities. This encourages a gamified environment (e.g., who has taken the most active lifestyle), plus businesses can also utilize data to optimize productivity.

With wearable and embedded technology, businesses can easily keep track of shipments, infrastructures, and manufacturing lines. IoT, when applied correctly, gives you more control over how you operate.

The Future Is Today

Regardless of the industry you operate in, you will always find these enterprise automation concepts helpful in optimizing and improving operations. With automated change management, big data and IoT, businesses can be agile and scalable, regardless of size.

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