Smarter, Better, Faster Business With The Cloud & Mobility

by Daniel M. Horton, CIO, Michael Baker International

Every day, businesses of all types confront the ever-present challenge of working more efficiently and effectively toward continuous improvement and standing out among their peers. Companies constantly ask themselves: “What differentiates us?”, “How are our products and services perceived?”, and “What sets us apart from the others?” Technology can and should be a cornerstone for answering these “looking in the mirror” questions, and Information Technology (IT) departments across the world are increasingly embracing their role as a solutions provider that can help steer the organizations toward greater success and profitability. Advancements such as cloud computing and mobility are enabling companies to work smarter, better and faster. For IT departments, maximizing the benefits of these advancements requires a commitment to consistent methods of analyzing needs and implementing technology solutions.

“The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.” –Steve Ballmer

As an IT leader, you may be putting your company at a major competitive and financial disadvantage if you haven’t acted on the game-changing innovations introduced over the past five years. Even if you have planned and positioned for these changes, developing consistent approaches of implementing solutions is crucial to success. This means being agile and adaptable to change in real time. It also means integrating vendor partnerships as true extensions of your internal team, enabling it to respond appropriately to unexpected increases in workload without having to restructure.

Cloud offerings and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) are on the rise, which provides us with more solution and implementation options. The world is adopting a “Cloud First” approach for centralization, scalability on-demand, increased mobility, standardization, simplification and more. Incorporating the cloud into infrastructure at varying levels maximizes investment and achieves more with less. Eliminating or reducing a hardware footprint focuses efforts on real-world operational solutions rather than maintaining, upgrading and replacing equipment at regular intervals. A cloud-based infrastructure also minimizes downtime and planned after-hours outages during hardware improvements.

Best-of-breed IT operations are implementing solutions that deliver greater flexibility on readily available platforms, all with an eye on how the workforce gets the job done. For an IT department, the benefits of increased mobility are palpable whether that department is supporting a single office or hundreds of offices and project sites globally. Modernizing our processes and applications to compliment this trend contributes to increased productivity. Creating workflows that users can initiate on a mobile device drives efficiencies and speeds processes; which encourages employees to stay connected.

As we continually evaluate the workforce model and establish new methodologies, we can streamline our work lives when coupled with the right technology. We are equipping field personnel with the ability to connect to corporate networks and collaboration tools from their trucks and job sites. Remote monitoring of job sites help maintain a high level of oversight and reduction in travel costs. With the power of the cloud and the increased mobility options, businesses can tailor processes and applications to support portability and working on the go.

These are exciting times for IT professionals. The value of the support and service we deliver has never been higher. Investing time to review processes, procedures and technologies at regular intervals ensures IT teams are not maintaining a stagnant framework just because “it still works.” Constantly analyzing the needs of the enterprise and implementing smart technology solutions can empower a company to push the envelope when it comes to working smarter, better and faster. When you put all three together and consistently produce results on each front, you make it easier for your employer to answer that crucial question of what makes your company different.