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Nimble In The Cloud – The Office Of The Future

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Woman using the cloud computing to work from home. (Photo by Getty Images)

As Covid continues to disrupt work, more and more businesses are depending on cloud-based services like Dropbox, Google Suite and Flexyforce to add extra layers of security and enable staff to efficiently work from anywhere.  

In the Covid-19 context, the ‘cloud’ is the place to be. And though it’s not exactly a new tech phenomenon, it is only now that it has gained increased currency, with the number of companies adapting to cloud-based services seeing an upward trend.  

CEO and Founder of Flexyforce, Annette Muller, speaks of how she has seen it soar to new levels.  

“Practically, we originated from looking at these future business models, which is very much on-demand workforces and automating the underlying administration to allow the business to scale within their capacity. And philosophically, the bigger mission is, of course, to bring flexibility to the workplace,” Muller says.  

Flexyforce is South Africa’s first female-founded cloud-based supplier management software and it has seen growth during the pandemic.  

“We signed on a number of new exciting businesses, specifically businesses who realized that with this remote work they’re going to have to take off their business operations into the cloud,” Muller says.  

Cloud computing, according to Managing Executive of Cloud, Hosting, and Security at Vodacom Business, Kabelo Makwane, is bringing together a pool of shared IT resources. This is done through computing, storage, and networks which allows for the shared resources to be shared anywhere and at any time on a pay-as-you-go metered service.  

“As opposed to the traditional distributed computed model where everyone, whether you are a large enterprise or working from home, is building their own IT shops, the benefits of cloud computing come from the aggregation and consuming it as a utility in the same way we consume power today,” Makwane said at the Future of Work digital summit hosted by CNBC Africa on August 20.  

This notion is seconded by Muller who says that cloud computing is a lot more cost-efficient as you have to downscale on some of the costs you were previously using, but this is provided you are using the correct service provider. In addition to that, the cloud can be accessed from anywhere.  

“So a big benefit is that you can access work from any device anywhere in the world. And I think that is what pushed so much attention to cloud services. Now, specifically with Covid-19, because of the forced remote working that we saw taking place across the whole world. And that just means that you’re less dependent on an office environment or specific devices at the office to be able to work,” Muller says.  

Using a cloud-based service is also a good equalizer for entrepreneurs who may be starting a business or small-to-medium-sized businesses as there are no incurred IT costs to worry about, specifically now during Covid-19, this would be the best time for those businesses to start using cloud-based service providers if they have not already.  

“The fixed upfront costs are lower because you’re essentially just doing a pay-as-you-go model and this could really assist the small-to-medium-sized business,” Alison Collier, Managing Director of Endeavor South Africa, said at the Future of Work summit.  

“I think it’s absolutely fundamental to small-to-medium businesses and they will not survive this day and age if they do not put those basic systems and processes into place from the word go,” Muller adds.  

There are still companies who fear having to use cloud-computing as there is a security risk perception, Muller explains. However, most service providers have gone to great lengths to protect companies’ data by using tools like authenticators.   

Furthermore, Muller adds that if Covid-19 has taught companies anything, it is that businesses have to change and adapt to the new world of working.  

“There’s an interesting analogy that the office of the future isn’t getting the printer and the secretary and the desk and the chair. It’s not; it’s opening up your Web browser and having those first seven services that you log into every day,” Muller says.  

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