The future is flexible: enabling a proactive approach to business with cloud applications

With agility and innovation seen as the keys to organisational survival, Richard Petley at Oracle describes how cloud applications that adapt to change can underpin flexibility

We live and work in a world that’s constantly changing. Businesses must adapt quickly to new challenges, be that supply chain disruptions, security breaches, or major crises such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But simply responding to market changes and issues is not enough – a reactive approach can place businesses on the back foot, scrambling to find solutions to problems.

For businesses, the opposite should be true: continuous innovation helps place you on the front foot, potentially in better control of operations with the agility required to help you act quickly.

A proactive approach, where time and resources are devoted to future-proofing systems and processes, means that when something unexpected does happen, you are more likely to be ready to address issues before they escalate, or capitalise on new opportunities.

It all starts with innovation

Proactivity is hard to achieve. Many companies still use legacy applications that are customised to a specific industry use-case. They are functional, but lack the flexibility to rapidly respond to change – without that flexibility, it may be difficult to adopt new business models or bring new products and services to market quickly. Over time, the costs of this rigidity can be high.

Businesses need agility to stay ahead of the curve, work more efficiently and serve customers more effectively. A connected suite of cloud applications that can be implemented relatively quickly (depending on complexity) and remotely – especially one with the benefit of consistent product innovation – is a vital toolset.

With apps that are regularly updated to the latest available solutions, businesses can potentially reduce the risk of falling behind competitors and can be enabled to deliver on the growing expectations of both customers and employees.

Businesses from any industry can harness cloud-native applications to create an entire SaaS ecosystem. With these apps they can help break down siloes and take control of business functions everything from employee payroll and talent management to financial decision-making, business environments, and customer experience management can be modernised and optimised to help enable businesses be more agile and resilient.

Anticipate and adapt

The ability to anticipate future requirements and challenges offers a crucial competitive edge. Beyond simply using the cloud to react to change more rapidly, technologically enabled companies can do more, such as adopting a change-centric approach to actively prepare for eventualities. This comes down to businesses drawing actionable insights from data, then leveraging a range of cloud-native apps to help with preparedness.

With a suite of SaaS apps across finance, HR, sales and marketing and supply chain, optimisation across the business can be continuous. Businesses can check the pulse of customer and employee relationships with real-time feedback or project performance and use apps to help enable businesses proactively tailor solutions to achieve the best outcomes.

With these tools, it’s possible for businesses to proactively improve user experience, satisfaction, and productivity internally and externally.

The early bird catches the worm

Success comes down to preparedness. The last year has seen its share of proactivity success stories, despite the adversity businesses have faced. Technology has helped businesses in a variety of industries deliver better results and experiences.

One business that was able to not only overcome challenges associated with the pandemic, but also benefit from changes to the market, was parcel delivery company Hermes. As face-to-face contact was reduced and high street retail ground to a halt, the need for convenient, intuitive delivery services skyrocketed.

Luckily, Hermes was able to meet this need with the help of Holly, a chatbot that helped them provide customer assistance at ever-increasing scale. The company handled more than 2.5 million packages every day and received 2.5 million app downloads thanks to their proactive approach to technological innovation.

The future is flexible

Across every industry, from finance and healthcare to deliveries and confectionary, companies are waving goodbye to rigid legacy applications and embracing cloud-native SaaS applications. Some are already seeing returns on their investments, but the real benefits of a flexible, proactive approach are likely to be seen in the medium to long term.

Like the returns financial investors see from compound interest, the advantages of digital transformation can be compounded with each intelligent decision made and each advantage seized.

No one knows for sure what the coming years will bring. However, the one thing we can probably be sure of is that the companies that take a proactive approach to business – with the help of consistently innovative applications – will most likely be better placed to not only survive, but also thrive.

Richard Petley is SVP Technology and UK Country Lead at Oracle

Main image courtesy of

© Business Reporter 2021

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