Cloud Computing Q&A: IBM SmartCloud

Cloud Computing Q&A: IBM SmartCloud

A few questions have been put together for Rebecca Buisan, who is the Director of Product Marketing for IBM.

When it comes to cloud computing, as with any technology solution, small businesses need to address a unique set of challenges and concerns. What are some of the things small business owners need to keep in mind when selecting cloud tools?

I think there are two primary challenges SMBs are facing: cost and trust. When deciding to move to the cloud, SMBs need to keep in mind that they don’t have to put all their chips in at one time. Choose a trusted partner that will work with you to help assess your businesses cloud readiness, develop adoption strategies, and identify business entry points. The need to accomplish more with less is at the financial core of every SMB, and the cloud’s on-demand nature makes it the perfect IT resource for organizations that need to operate within a tight budget but also need to expand their capacity as their business grows.

As information has become the new currency, the ability of SMBs to survive in an increasingly competitive and global environment is largely determined by their use of advanced technologies like cloud computing. Our advice to these entrepreneurial companies is to take advantage of emerging opportunities like cloud computing and social business.

What does social business mean, and where does it fit into this picture?

Within the past 2-3 years, businesses have begun using social technologies to transform communications inside and outside the company. While social networking was once viewed as a tool for students and teens to connect with one another, businesses are now looking for ways to adopt similar concepts to better connect their employees, partners and clients and overall, to transform. We think of social business as being broader than the use of social networking technologies inside of an organization.

Social Business is about moving beyond social media tools. It’s about discovering, collaborating and sharing — all in an environment that encourages transparency — to deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas faster, identify expertise and enable a more effective workforce.

Fast growing delivery models like Cloud Computing are driving demand for Social Business. While we are witnessing technology challenges due to this shift in how business is conducted, there are many collaboration technologies available to businesses at a very manageable cost, due in part to the advantages that cloud computing provides. For example, IBM SmartCloud for Social Business is a public cloud enterprise collaboration
service provided which offers social networking, online collaboration tools and e-mail as a service. As a cloud-based service, IBM SmartCloud for Social Business is designed to help companies focus on their core business by having IBM manage their collaboration and messaging infrastructure for them.

Are there any real-world success stories you can share, to illustrate the ways in which cloud-based collaboration offerings can have a positive impact on SMBs?

Russell’s Convenience Stores is an SMB transforming its business with cloud collaboration technology from IBM. As a result of adopting IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, the company can better integrate and share data across its 24 convenience stores across the western US and Hawaii.

It can improve communication flow between management teams, employees, customers and partners. Prior to working with IBM, Russell’s management team was struggling with project management for retail store expansion projects. Contractors, landlords, architects and Russell’s management team had to spend significant time and money traveling to site locations to complete projects effectively. Russell’s Convenience chose IBM’s SmartCloud for Social Business to transform how its employees collaborate with each other, their licensees, vendors and partners and respond more quickly to customer demands.

With IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, Russell’s licensee stores can now access and share information regardless of their location. They have instant access to cloud-based social networking and collaboration tools, including file storing and sharing, email, instant messaging and activity management. Instead of searching through emails or making multiple phone calls, employees can now collaborate on the fly. They can meet online to resolve issues, share sales goals, network with co-workers, and track projects to completion.  A unique guest model lets Russell’s invite partners outside of its network to collaborate in the cloud.  This has resulted in lower costs, faster project completion, and even increased retail revenues for the chain.  In fact, Russell’s saw a return on their cloud investment within the first month of using it.

Q&A Contribution By Rebecca Buisan,

Director of Product Marketing, IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.

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