Cloud computing, the most recent innovation in information technology, has changed the shape of information system management around the globe. The central idea behind cloud computing is transferring and storing data in a big data center securely accessible from any computing device connected to the internet. This innovation in the field of information technology has changed the definition of data management, reduced the cost of data storage, and enhanced data-sharing systems within industries in the world of business.
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Jadeja and Modi (2012) asserted that the main goal of cloud computing is to ensure optimal use of distributed resources, to achieve superior output, and to help to solve computing problems on a massive scale. The use of cloud computing in business organizations promises to be very effective as the technology offers a great range of benefits to an organization. Unified access to information, superb data protection, low-cost and fast data sharing, easy maintenance of data, and performance monitoring are some of the significant utilities inherent in cloud computing (Jadeja & Modi, p.1, 2012). Currently, cloud computing offers three different services from which organizations can choose a suitable data solution: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
SaaS provides the use of software for managing organizational information, PaaS provides the use of a structured platform for business data management, and IaaS provides the infrastructure to enhance the computational usage within an organization for improving operational efficiency (Jadeja & Modi, p.2, 2012). At present, three types of cloud deployment are available: public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. The optimal technology suggestion would depend on the technological needs of a company, but usually hybrid cloud and PaaS services are more popular than the other choices.
On the other hand, business intelligence and analytics (BI&A) has become very important in this digital age for fostering a profitable business. The main role of BI&A in an organization is to help collect necessary data, analyze the data, and provide insights into the true direction of the company.
Chen, Chiang, and Storey (2012) further defined the function of BI&A, saying, “In addition to the underlying data processing and analytical technologies, BI&A includes business-centric practices and methodologies that can be applied to various high-impact applications such as e-commerce, market intelligence, e-government, healthcare, and security.”The authors discussed the various uses of a business intelligence and analytics system and asserted that BI&A is heavily dependent on data collection and analysis for generating a report. According to Cheng, Chiang, and Storey (2012), BI&A offers a great opportunity for a business organization as it integrates e-commerce, m-commerce, e-government and politics, and science and technology.
Based on a study of cloud computing, BI&A, wireless computing, and mobile commerce, it is recommended that a brick-and-mortar company use a combination of cloud computing and BI&A technology to meet all the technology needs of the company. The assessment of company problems will help identify key issues that need to be solved using different aspects of technology. The benefits of cloud computing suggest that incorporating this technological solution can help a company to adapt to the technological changes around the world.
Global business trends suggest that people are relying more on internet content as well as buying more online and preferring to communicate electronically, and brick-and-mortar companies have been failing to offer these technological solutions to their customers. Furthermore, BI&A is an advanced technology that helps companies to read the minds of their target customers and suggests strategies for improving company profitability.
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The first technological need of a company is the integration of online shopping, and cloud computing is the best available solution to meet this need; cloud computing allows remote access to information regardless of device types. That means that it would allow the company’s customers to access product information from anywhere and on any digital device. As cloud computing facilitates unified data transfer, it is becoming easier to manage inventory and product shipment.
An ERP system is an ideal example of cloud computing that helps to integrate all the selling, inventory managing, checking, payment processing, accounting, finance, warehousing, and other information-related business operations. Cloud computing also helps in managing customer relations and initiating electronic communication with potential customers. Thus, cloud computing solves most of the technological needs of brick-and-mortar companies, except that in itself, it does not produce any reports that can be used for making decisions, a significant concern for business success.
The incorporation of BI&A within a brick-and-mortar business can complete the modernization of the company as business intelligence and analytics can use cloud storage data to generate reports detailing customers’ preferences, customers’ locations, market needs, the buying behavior of target customers, the demographic information of customers, and the operational performance of the company. In addition, it can help the company to make effective decisions, which can help to improve performance. In other words, a brick-and-mortar business can become very effective in managing its day-to-day operations using BI&A technology.
In essence, the integration of both cloud computing and business intelligence and analytics in a brick-and-mortar company can eminently satisfy the technological needs of the company. Moreover, it will give a new dimension to the company’s operation and performance, essentially enhancing the profitability of the company.