In the last few years, there has been growing interest in “the cloud,” or “cloud computing.” Most people have at least heard the term, even if they are not entirely clear on what it means or why they should think it’s important.
Ironically, these same people have likely been using the cloud for years—in some cases, decades—and don’t even realize it. This is true even in a B2B context. If you have an email account, store documents using Dropbox, connect via LinkedIn, or attend webinars using WebEx, you are using the cloud.
Large corporations have been migrating to the cloud for some time, especially to support field personnel. As more and more business applications move to the cloud, it makes it easier for managers to interact with branch offices and remote personnel, as well as usher in more effective telecommuting and travel.
The cloud is also a way for small and medium-size businesses to take advantage of “big company” computing power at low cost without hiring full-time computing personnel. Many new businesses, in particular, can reap huge rewards if they make cloud computing an essential part of their startups.
So what is stopping many commercial printers from tapping into the benefits of the cloud? There are lots of misconceptions that are creating an unnecessary environment of fear. Let’s look at 10 cloud myths and the realities so you can make an informed decision for your business.
Myth #1: Cloud migration is expensive.
Reality: Like any investment, there is an initial expense, but in the long run, you will save money by migrating as many of your business functions as possible.
Myth #2: Cloud migration will be disruptive and cost me business.
Reality: The goal is not to “cloudify” your business all at once, but to migrate different parts of your business at different times, minimizing disruption. Focus on what gives you the best bang for the buck first.
Myth #3: To reap the benefits, I have to move everything to the cloud.
Reality: Not everything is cloud-optimized and not everything has to be. The goal is to “cloudify” what makes sense.
Myth #4: Once you go to the cloud, you can’t go back.
Reality: Most likely, once you migrate to the cloud, you won’t want to go back. But there is nothing stopping you from “de-clouding” if you choose to do so.
Myth #5: We must acquire all our cloud services from a single company.
Reality: Different companies have different competencies. If you work with a good third-party consultant, you can (and probably should) select the best solutions for the right components in your shop.
Myth #6: Storing sensitive business or customer data in the cloud makes my company (and my clients’ data) less secure.
Reality: Storing data on premises is actually less secure than in the cloud. Cloud service provides spend millions on backup and security protection, so unless you’re dealing with a fly-by-night operation, your data will be safer in the cloud than in your own plant.
Myth #7: I still feel like the cloud is less secure.
Reality: Of all of the major hacks reported in the news —Yahoo, Sony, Blue Cross, Home Depot, Target—were on private networks, not in the cloud. Most data breaches are internal.
Myth #8: My files and workflow are too large and complicated for the cloud.
Reality: Today’s technology is more than keeping pace with the demands of the printing industry. When you can watch a movie on your phone, the cloud can handle your print shop workflow.
Myth #9: What if I lose my Internet connection? Does my business go down?
Realty: No. Most cloud networks can be accessed using traditional data networks, so even if you lose Internet service, you can still access the cloud. In fact, your business is more protected in the cloud because you can still access your data, files, and workflow when your Internet connection is down.
Myth #10: If I move to the cloud, I can get rid of my IT department.
Reality: Today’s print business need to IT for more than just keeping their computers running. Your IT department will still be needed. The cloud just clears their plates and allows them to focus on other areas in which their expertise is needed.
Adapted from Cloud Production: A New Path to Profitability (How to Benefit from Cloud Automation), by Slava Apel and Joseph W. Webb, Ph.D., 2017.