In recent years, the emergence of cloud computing has transformed the business arena by providing an enabling force through which business organizations are now more able to efficiently and effectively reengineer their corporate strategy and competitive advantage.
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Although cloud computing is still in its development phases, a significant number of organizations have transitioned to the technology to reap from its competitive efficiencies as demonstrated in the literature (Garrison et al., 2012).
The present paper uses a case study on NVoicePay to illuminate the business advantages of cloud computing and how IT leadership can be effective in achieving technology buy-in by communicating the benefits of the technology to executive stakeholders.
Cloud computing has been defined as “…a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (such as networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be quickly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider protection” (Garrison et al., 2012, p. 62).
Through cloud computing, therefore, organizations can have access to an IT service over a network on a needs basis and without having to invest in the technicalities of how the service is provided. Extant literature demonstrates that NVoicePay, a leading e-payment solution provider for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), relies on the cloud as its primary architecture while operating as little of its own data center infrastructure as possible, with the view to assisting the SMEs automate invoice payment.
Although the organization still maintains its in-house servers in a small data center run by NVoicePay employees specifically to safeguard the customer identity and other sensitive information, it primarily depends “…on the Microsoft SQL Azure cloud platform for the rest of its computing horsepower, such as notifying parties of payments and updating their customers’ accounting systems” (Babcock, 2013 para. 35).
The company is also using the Azure cloud platform to undertake accounting updates through the synchronized database services that are essentially supported by the Cloud provider’s AppFabric service bus. NVoicePay’s business strategy resonates around providing fast and cost-effective electronic payment solutions to SMEs as they seek to compensate their vendors and suppliers for services rendered (Giegerich, 2012).
In this perspective, the impact of cloud computing on the company’s business strategy can be seen in its capacity to use the infrastructure and programs hosted by Azure to efficiently and effectively assist the SMEs pay their suppliers and vendors electronically than with paper checks.
This change, according to available statistics, have reduced the per-transaction cost from $3 to 43 cents, substantially increased business partners and clients, and also increased the amount of payments processed through the cloud computing environment from $200 million in 2011 to an estimated $ 1 billion in 2012 (Giegerich, 2012).
Going by the figures above, it is clear that the business advantages of cloud computing cannot be underestimated. NVoicePay is a technology-intensive company by virtue of the fact that it employs web-based mechanisms to transact business (Babcock, 2013).
Consequently, it can be argued that the adoption of cloud computing will go a long way in assisting the startup company “…lower [its] IT capital expenditures and operating costs by purchasing on demand technology resources (such as increased data storage, bandwidth, and processing power) while eliminating the need to maintain outdated equipment” (Garrison et al., 2012, p. 62).
Its use of Azure cloud platform enables the company to have access to key technologies and software, including the AppFabric service bus, as well as skilled IT personnel who might otherwise be too costly and challenging to obtain and maintain (Goodburn & Hill, 2010), hence further reducing its IT-related costs and increasing revenue streams and business agility (Von Solms & Viljoen, 2012).
Of fundamental importance is the fact that NVoicePay is now redirecting its critical resources and manpower towards core business activities, turning the Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform into an IT-related strategy for achieving competitive advantage (Garrison et al., 2012).
Today, more than ever before, the company can boast of achieving improved flexibility, enhanced scalability, greener computing, cost savings and other intangible benefits that have availed unlimited opportunities to improve the way this company operates (Von Solms & Viljoen, 2012).
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Indeed, owing to the adoption of cloud computing-based processing systems that eliminated the need for check writing, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Karla Friede estimates that the company’s revenue streams will continue to grow immensely over the coming years as it positions itself to tap into the $3 billion market (Giegerich, 2012). These business advantages demonstrate the unlimited opportunities that can be availed to organizations via cloud computing environments.
NVoicePay is yet to fully adopt cloud computing, hence its opportunities may still be constrained. Consequently, it is the task of the IT department to demonstrate clearly the benefits of the technology to achieve technology buy-in (commitment to use or support the technology) from executive stakeholders.
It is clear that the IT leadership at NVoicePay has succeeded in establishing trust and demonstrating integrity about the need for the organization to switch to cloud computing, set clear directions to sustain this transition, cultivated capabilities, promoted innovation and focused on key results of cloud computing to achieve the technology buy-in that has already taken place.
However, since different stakeholders may demonstrate diverse interests, attitudes and priorities, the IT leadership needs to continue effectively communicating with stakeholders with the view to providing relevant information, establishing positive relationships and generating a positive understanding about the business need to adopt cloud computing at a much larger scale (Gould, 2012).
Such strategies, in my view, will assist stakeholders in making informed decisions about considering cloud for all IT planning.
Babcock, C. (2013). 4 Companies getting real results from cloud computing. InformationWeek. Web.
Garrison, G., Kim, S., & Wakefield, R.L. (2012). Success factors for deploying cloud computing. Communications of the ACM, 55(9), 62-68.
Giegerich, A. (2012, Jan 27). NVoicePay: The pay’s the thing. Portland Business Journal. Web.
Goodburn, M.A., & Hill, S. (2010). The cloud transforms business. Financial executive, 26(10), 34-39.
Gould, R.W. (2012). Open Innovation and stakeholder engagement. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 7(3), 1-11.
Von Solms, R., & Viljoen, M. (2012). Cloud computing service value: A message from the board. South African Journal of Business Management, 413(4), 73-81.