Cloud computing benefits most parties

Cloud computing is not just one of the most significant technologies out there just for show. Industry research continues to show that companies are migrating to hosted environments to improve many aspects of their firms. A recent survey of CIOs, business executives and employees by Dimensional Research found that the advantages of the cloud are vast.

Of the executives polled, 80 percent cited the cloud’s value as a major benefit, while 53 percent of CIOs answered similarly. The survey also found that nearly 60 percent of CIOs said the cloud is ideal for meeting compliance requirements and 51 percent said the solution provides a competitive advantage.

“Our survey findings show business value is an overwhelming driver for cloud adoption among business executives, while CIOs cite a range of reasons for moving to the cloud,” said Dimensional Senior Research Analyst and study author Diane Hagglund. “Better compliance and increased competitive advantage were also identified as key drivers.”

Cloud computing benefits staff members

Staff members are one of the main beneficiaries of cloud computing. Industry professionals believe that process automation tools help workers collaborate more effectively through multiple devices.

Employees also said they enjoy the advantages of cloud-based solutions. The survey found that 79 percent of workers said their experience with cloud applications has been beneficial.

Employees viewed as key adoption drivers of the cloud

A survey conducted by Webtorials found that employees at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often work outside of the office, which is something that cloud computing can support. As a result, 43 percent of SMBs said they plan to implement cloud-based solutions to support their workforce.

“SMBs are relying on mobile tools to better serve customers and reduce capex,” said Joanie Wexler, an independent networking analyst.

But not all is sunshine for workers, according to Wexler, because some employees are experiencing vastly different working experiences inside and out of the office. As a result, some people are struggling with productivity.

As long as more workers are adopting smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, businesses need to support this workforce and there is no better option than the cloud. All employees need is an internet connection and they can access corporate documents from virtually anywhere.

Cloud-based ERP expected to continue steady growth

Enterprise applications, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) are crucial for many companies, but on-site deployments are no longer enough in many cases. The use of social, mobile and cloud technologies have all impacted the way firms leverage these apps.

Enterprise Apps Today recently surveyed industry experts regarding what is on the horizon for enterprise apps. According to Derek Singleton, an ERP analyst at Software Advice, cloud-based ERP will continue to gain steam as a viable option moving forward.

“ERP got off to a slow start in terms of adopting cloud technologies, and the industry was unsure whether it could be a viable model for delivering ERP software,” Singleton told Enterprise Apps Today. “But now everyone is now trying to figure out how to design and develop their ERP software for the cloud.”

Singleton also told the news source that any ERP trend generally develops slower than other software, including customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. But the cloud is one such influence that has gotten the ball rolling in this regard.

Midsize firms can benefit from cloud-based ERP

Midsize businesses may not have the vast resources of larger companies, but they can still take full advantage of cloud computing and ERP applications. Wired’s Kevin Beasley explained that cloud-based ERP makes corporate data more accessible to employees. To achieve this, the writer encouraged midsize organizations to implement both business intelligence and mobile technologies with their cloud deployments.

There are many other advantages to successful cloud-based ERP deployments, according to Beasley. These benefits include lower operating costs, enhanced customer service and greater employee collaboration. But companies must work at it over time to remain on the right track. Beasley encouraged organizations to conduct internal audits to determine how policies will change following implementing mobile and other solutions.

Cost is one consideration of implementing mobile clouds that is often overlooked, according to Beasley. Deploying clouds can save firms money in the long run, but they must know where the technology can improve certain efficiencies to be successful.

“Have an accurate understanding of your existing IT and infrastructure expenses. In doing so, you will be able to clearly see areas where you can save additional money by migrating to cloud technology,” Beasley wrote.

Cloud computing is one of many technologies expected to impact the enterprise applications landscape. Looking ahead, if more companies become comfortable with migrating apps to hosted environments, more business will be conducted in the cloud.

Some old B2B marketing goals still apply today

B2B marketers without effective tools like marketing automation software may find that their campaigns are falling short of expectations because they lack cohesion and are not hitting the mark. Looking ahead to 2013, companies in this arena will have to operate much like they have for so long, placing even greater emphasis on solutions that can measure success and point organizations in the right direction.

Business 2 Community’s David Dodd recently suggested that not much has changed in more than 20 years in the B2B marketing landscape. The writer explained that B2B marketing campaigns in 2013 will still rely heavily on ways to identify clientele that are ready for sales pitches and those that are not.

“In 2013, as in 1990, B2B companies will need to ‘stay in touch’ with prospects who aren’t ready to begin a serious buying process … because some day they probably will be ready,” Dodd wrote.

Next year will also be important for B2B marketers to provide clients value and information that can improve their companies instead of trying to entice prospects that are simply not ready, according to Dodd.

The B2B marketing landscape has certainly changed in many respects, but the overall goals of more than 20 years ago still apply to today, Dodd concluded.

B2B marketers’ focus in 2013 should be consistency
Any B2B marketer that does not have a cohesive campaign is not showing its overall goals to potential clients, confusing other companies in the process. In 2013, B2B marketers should focus on the three C’s, according to B2B Marketing’s Erica Bell, which are creative, consistent and capture.

“One of the most important aspects of online content marketing is producing it on a consistent basis,” Bell suggested. “While social media is one space that demands consistency, a blog, email newsletter or anywhere else your share content are equally important.”

Bell encouraged B2B marketers to determine the content that is the most effective at generating potential leads in 2013 for the capture aspect. In terms of creativity, businesses must produce material that makes them stand out from the crowd if they want to find success in 2013.

The job of B2B marketers is not an easy one, but the right tools and approach can mean all of the difference as companies try to capture more sales and enter new markets.

Public cloud computing had success 2012

Cloud computing has made significant strides in recent years and this level of impact is not expected to slow in the near future. InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr recently highlighted how 2012 will go down as an important year for the public cloud. Looking ahead to 2013, the public cloud will be a mainstay for the IT industry. Research firm IDC predicted that companies will spend nearly $100 billion for the technology next year, more than double the amount spent in 2012.

Although more money is being allocated toward cloud computing, it pales in comparison to overall IT budgets, Knorr explained.

“The data center isn’t going anywhere – but it needs the greater efficiency and agility the private cloud offers,” Knorr wrote. “The question of the day is whether the private cloud will evolve quickly enough to stop an accelerated exodus to public cloud services.”

There are many advantages to hosted environments, especially in terms of process automation. Industry professionals believe these tools are ideal for improving employee collaboration. As long as workers have access to the internet, they can work with corporate documents through multiple devices like smartphones and tablets.

Hybrid clouds expected to be more important
Public and private clouds garner a lot of the attention surrounding hosted environments, but hybrid models are expected to grow in importance moving forward. A TechTarget survey found that 63 percent of IT professionals polled said the hybrid cloud’s cost-efficiency is its No. 1 advantage. Another 56 percent said the solution fits their companies’ computing requirements.

Stephen Bigelow, a TechTarget author, indicated that although the three cloud models differ in some respects, they all “have a unique role in enterprise IT.”

As more organizations worldwide realize the advantages of hosted environments, revenue from cloud deployments is expected to soar. A MarketsandMarkets study predicted that profits are projected to grow from from just under $38 billion in 2010 to more than $121 billion by 2015, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of more than 26 percent.

Cloud computing is no longer just a flash in the pan as some industry experts previously predicted. The technology, whether companies use a public, private or hybrid model, has changed the way firms operate and access information.

What’s ahead for cloud computing?

Cloud computing is here and is not going away anytime soon. Forbes contributor Raj Sabhlok recently predicted what will define hosted environments in 2013, including the advantages of cloud-based ERP, cloud-based CRM and other applications.

According to the writer, businesses in 2013 should embrace change next year and adopt newer technologies. One of the issues with this approach is that research has shown that nearly 80 percent of IT budgets are geared toward managing older IT systems.

“By moving pedestrian technologies like ERP, CRM, help desk and even PBX’s to the cloud, IT will be given a reprieve and finally be free to focus on higher value activities,” Sabhlok wrote.

Instead of forcing employees to work the normal nine to five, more businesses will embrace the cloud’s accessibility in 2013, allowing staff members to work whenever they can, according to Sabhlok. Now, managers no longer have to worry about projects not getting done because of the new productivity capabilities. The cloud also allows organizations to have more remote workers, thus saving on real estate costs.

There are a number of cloud deployment options, including public, private and hybrid models, but the technology will become an “integral part of IT” beginning next year, according to Sabhlok. Enterprises in particular are expected to implement more private-based clouds in 2013.

2013 considered important year for cloud computing

Other industry professionals have suggested that 2013 will be a crucial time for the evolution of the cloud. Computerworld’s Chris Kanaracus recently indicated that more cloud-based ERP applications will be available next year as service providers jockey for position in the burgeoning market.

“With no shortage of choices now and upcoming for cloud ERP, the real question seems to be whether customers will vote en masse with their wallets,” Kanaracus suggested.

The overall comfort of using cloud technologies is also expected to grow next year, according to the writer.

Cloud computing has taken the IT industry by storm, allowing companies of all sizes to benefit from hosted environments. Instead of forcing workers to complete important tasks at the office, firms with cloud-based systems can allow personnel to access corporate files anywhere with an internet connection. Organizations looking for ways to lower operating costs, improve productivity and replace outdated systems in 2013 should strongly consider migrating to the cloud.

NetSuite SuiteCommerce solution delivers results

NetSuite, a leading provider of cloud-based ERP and financial software, is expecting more businesses to adopt its SuiteCommerce solution as 2013 rolls around. The company said that the platform is ideal for helping firms improve the shopping experience for users and enhance overall efficiency. Other advantages of SuiteCommerce include the ability to lower operational expenditures, building greater brand loyalty.

SuiteCommerce may be just what the doctor ordered for merchants in 2013, according to Andy Lloyd, NetSuite’s general manager, especially for those operating with outdated IT infrastructures.

“NetSuite SuiteCommerce unleashes the power of the cloud to ratchet up business efficiency and delight the omnichannel customer through a uniquely-personalized experience,” Lloyd said. “Having positioned themselves to achieve their own business resolutions, these companies can focus on the needs of their customers.”

Cloud computing may still be a maturing technology, but it is changing how companies do business. Few vendors have been at the forefront of the development of the cloud like NetSuite and, looking forward, this will continue to be the service provider’s bread and butter.

NetSuite believes in the cloud

Instead of relying on on-site and outdated IT systems, NetSuite is encouraging more companies to adopt cloud-based applications. Zach Nelson, NetSuite’s CEO, recently spoke at the Business Cloud Summit in London and explained what is expected to take place regarding the use of cloud-based solutions in 2013.

“Cloud technology and digital commerce will undoubtedly play a large role as multiple touchpoints with businesses and consumers demand a more dynamic, interactive customer experience, across multiple interfaces,” said Nelson.

ERP is one of the more popular enterprise applications that have migrated to hosted environments. Nelson explained that more companies are implementing multi-tiered systems and this will continue in the near future.

Cloud-based enterprise applications are expected to remain popular among businesses. A recent Market Pulse Survey by SailPoint found that one-third of all enterprise applications are run in hosted environments. By 2015, this figure will reach 50 percent.

Jackie Gilbert, SailPoint’s vice president and general manager, encouraged companies using cloud-based environments to implement monitoring tools to address any potential protection risks down the road.

Businesses looking for ways to improve employee collaboration, customer experiences and productivity should strongly consider moving away from aging systems in favor of the cloud.

B2B marketers need clear plan for 2013 campaigns

B2B marketers do not have it easy trying to reach other companies while maintaining corporate growth. Businesses can make it easier on themselves with tools like marketing automation software, but firms also need to have a clear sense of their campaigns to be successful. Lisa Shepherd, an author and president of the Mezzanine Group, recently highlighted some ways B2B marketers can get the ball rolling in 2013.

Shepherd suggested that B2B marketers must determine what their markets are and their target audiences. These decisions are what defines a firm’s campaign.

The writer also added that the funnel analogy may be old, but it still serves a major purpose in the B2B marketing landscape.

“Marketing is all of the stuff that happens to get things into the funnel. So it’s above the funnel, if you will, or at the top of the funnel,” Shepherd wrote. “All those lead generation activities, going to trade shows, doing pay per click, sending out direct mail, whatever the tactics are, it’s all of that activity that gets leads into the sales process.”

The final aspect of an effective B2B marketing campaign is ongoing activities that support the funnel. This can include corporate branding and outreach that builds more relationships to improve client retention, according to Shepherd.

Content crucial to B2B marketing success

Next year will be make or break for many B2B marketers and content is expected to play a significant role. B2B Marketing’s Erica Bell recently explained that content marketing is so crucial because it helps firms establish themselves as industry leaders while also providing clients valuable information to help their businesses.

B2B Marketing conducted its own survey and found that more than 50 percent of B2B marketers believe content is most effective for generating leads. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said this type of outreach is ideal for boosting brand awareness, 34 percent cited thought leadership and 29 percent said sales.

Bell encouraged B2B marketers to pay close attention to what she refers to as the three C’s: capture, creative and consistent. Firms that can follow each of these steps by producing unique content on a consistent basis will find success in reaching their target audiences.

B2B marketers may not have it as easy as B2C companies, but there are tools and approaches than can make a big difference.

More businesses will be comfortable with cloud-based ERP in 2013

Cloud-based ERP applications are expected to undergo significant changes as 2012 comes to a close and 2013 begins. Computerworld’s Chris Kanaracus recently suggested that companies will have many choices regarding ERP apps as vendors compete for clientele in this burgeoning market.

“With no shortage of choices now and upcoming for cloud ERP, the real question seems to be whether customers will vote en masse with their wallets,” Kanaracus suggested.

The writer also explained that in addition to more cloud-based ERP offerings in 2013, the general comfort level of companies using such solutions is also expected to grow.

The cloud allows businesses to allow employees greater accessibility to corporate documents, which is not possible with traditional on-site deployments. Another major selling point of hosted environments is that firms generally only pay for the services they use, rather than forking over large upfront fees.

But Kanaracus admitted predicting the future in the tech industry is easier said than done. The writer indicated he agrees with analyst Frank Scavo, who suggested that “few people see really new trends before they start.”

Use of cloud-based erp gaining steam

Another development that may continue in 2013 is the use of end-to-end enterprise applications that include both ERP and CRM apps, according to a recent TechTarget report. Danny Estrada, a CRM practice director at a New York City-based vendor, explained more businesses are looking to implement such functionality for their operations.

The integration of ERP and CRM among organizations appears to be driven by the need to improve inventory management, invoicing and order processing, according to Corinne Sklar, a marketing vice president at a cloud-based software integration service provider.

“If you look at CRM as a whole, organizations are taking it deeper into the enterprise; they are looking at it as a platform,” Sklar said, according to TechTarget. “They are looking closely at the mobile productivity aspects and how they put this functionality into the hands of their entire sales teams.”

As cloud computing continues to mature, more companies of all sizes and industries will likely consider moving on-site applications like ERP and CRM to the cloud. In addition to the technology’s cost-efficiency, the cloud also empowers employees because they can work regardless of location – all they need is an internet connection. This is a limitation of on-site ERP and CRM apps.

Cloud computing allows workers unprecedented accessibility to projects

In addition to being a cost-effective technology, cloud computing has opened new possibilities regarding employee productivity and data accessibility, according to a recent Journal Star report. Siamak Farah, CEO of Info-Street, said staff members are no longer restricted to just working in an office, and many are doing so while they are on vacation. This development is likely due to the fact that some firms have minimal staffing levels, forcing only one worker to be on certain projects at once.

“If there’s something that requires urgent attention, employees want to handle it immediately rather than face problems when they get back to the office,” Farah said, according to the report.

Farah said, however, that employees are not working more and avoiding vacation time, they just want more access to their work so they are not overwhelmed. He also said that industry research has found that more than 50 percent of staff members now work while they are on vacation, growing 6 percent from 2011, the Journal reported.

The cloud’s impact cannot be understated. Farah said the technology has simplified the ways companies operate. Now, business is performed either on-site or in the cloud, he added, according to the news source.

More firms rely on cloud computing

More businesses believe that hosting mission-critical applications in the cloud is crucial to their companies’ success. SailPoint’s recent Market Pulse Survey found that one-third of all enterprise apps are now running in hosted environments. By 2015, this total is projected to reach 50 percent.

Jackie Gilbert, SailPoint vice president and general manager, said firms need to have proper protection to fully ensure their use of the cloud is effective.

“Many companies lack visibility not only to what data is in the cloud, but also to who can access that data,” Gilbert said. “It’s imperative that companies put in place the right monitoring and controls to mitigate these growing risks.”

There are many benefits of cloud computing, especially in terms of employee productivity. Process automation tools allow staff members to collaborate more effectively because they can access and share content more efficiently than more restricted solutions.

Cloud computing is not expected to go away anytime soon, making it crucial for businesses to keep pace in the ever-changing technological landscape.

Content marketing will be key for B2B marketers in 2013

Content marketing is gaining steam as one of the most significant aspects of a B2B marketer’s campaign. B2B Marketing’s Erica Bell recently highlighted the growing importance of content, which provides clients with valuable information while simultaneously establishing a company as an industry leader.

The news source conducted its own survey of B2B marketers and found that more than 50 percent said content marketing is the most important tool for generating new leads. Another 38 percent named this type of marketing as crucial for improving brand awareness, 34 percent named thought leadership and 29 percent said sales.

Looking ahead to 2013, Bell suggested that B2B marketers focus on the three C’s for their content marketing: creative, consistent and capture. Firms must ensure their posts are creative and stand out from competitors so the message is received.

“One of the most important aspects of online content marketing is producing it on a consistent basis,” Bell suggested. “While social media is one space that demands consistency, a blog, email newsletter or anywhere else your share content are equally important.”

In terms of capture, Bell encouraged B2B marketers to determine what content is the most effective at generating leads.

Social media No. 1 content marketing tool

Social media is perhaps the most important tool for any content marketing campaign. A CMI survey found that content marketing is used by more than 90 percent firms, with 87 percent having a social media presence. Other popular channels include case studies, blogs, website articles and electronic newsletters.

With so many marketing tools available, the smallest businesses use an average of 11 channels, according to CMI. The larger companies have approximately 18. Spending for content marketing is also growing. Organizations are allocating 33 percent of their marketing budgets toward content, increasing 7 percent from 2011.

Next year is expected to be key for content marketing. CMI found that more than 50 percent of businesses expect to spend money for content marketing in 2013.

B2B marketers have an opportunity to reach their target audiences with a number of effective platforms. However, measuring success is easier said than done. Industry experts encourage marketers to use marketing automation software to ensure campaigns are on track to deliver a return on investment.