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Origins to Innovation: Cloud Computing's Impact on HR

Origins to Innovation: Cloud Computing's Impact on HR

Origins to Innovation: Cloud Computing's Impact on HR

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Cloud computing has changed how businesses operate and how individuals work. Using internet-hosted, on-demand cloud resources has given organizations unprecedented flexibility and efficiency.

At its core, cloud computing involves delivering a variety of capabilities through the power of the internet, including storage, processing power, and software applications.

Cloud services like Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Spotify, Netflix, Apple iCloud, and Adobe Creative Cloud are so much a part of modern life that for some people it’s almost hard to remember what we did before they were around.

So what is cloud computing? What are its origins, what type of organizations use the cloud, and what are the benefits of the cloud for HR? Let’s explore.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing comprises computing services – including data storage, networking, software, and analytics – all accessible over the internet.

Users don't tend to see the physical hardware of the cloud and it's a common misconception that the cloud has no servers. In reality, the cloud is made up of vast networks of physical servers housed in data centers around the world. And just as you use roads to reach various destinations, you use the internet to reach cloud services.

Where Does the Term “Cloud” Come From?

The origins of the “cloud” in cloud computing could be described as slightly cloudy (sorry). It’s not exactly lost in time. But pinpointing the exact moment when the cloud became the metaphorical symbol for data storage, computing power, and the ethereal channel for various modern services, including flair, is challenging.

We might trace the concept back to early computing pioneers. Thomas J. Watson Sr. and his work in the 1920s laid important groundwork for computing at IBM. Later came the concept of time-sharing. John McCarthy, who blazed a time-sharing trail, was pivotal in this development.

In the 1960s, when people talked about clouds it was usually about the weather or maybe that Rolling Stones song, not data storage and computing. But it was in this era of cultural revolution, social change, and technological innovation that the idea and capabilities of the cloud were truly brewing.

The cloud concept, although still some way off, was evolving from a technological haze into an innovative tempest that would shake up the world of work.

In the 1960s and 1970s, time-sharing systems allowed multiple people to use a single computer at the same time, for the first time. IBM's CP-40, 360/67 mainframe, along with the MULTICS operating system developed by Honeywell, MIT, Bell Labs, and General Electric, were groundbreaking innovations in computing. They utilized virtual memory, allowing multiple users to run programs simultaneously by giving each user their own virtual machine (VM).

Key products also included MIT's Compatible Time-Sharing System and General Electric's GE systems. The brochure for GE systems reads a lot like a good cloud-based product promo you'd see on LinkedIn today: clear, concise, reader-focused, stacked with value propositions, and with a call to action (albeit with the noticeable absence of any women in the male-dominated Mad Men-esque marketing material).

These computing innovations showed that sharing computer resources remotely was possible, paving the way for cloud computing architecture today. But maybe the cloud really started to form, at least visually, when people began to draw network interactions.

Early 90s communication network and internet patent drawings, similar to those collected by developer and data reporter Noah Veltman here, show various cloud icons in all their glory.

But wait. Perhaps the cloud entered the collective consciousness when the term itself began to be used in normal parlance. The first reference to “cloud computing” is reported to have been in a [Compaq internal document]( term “cloud computing” itself,in academic work before that.) in 1996.

A year later, the now-defunct company NetCentric unsuccessfully attempted to trademark the phrase in the US.

Others hint that in 2006 former Google CEO Eric Schmidt may have attempted get ahead of competitors like Amazon, who were launching Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, by using the term during a conference speech.

Presenting at a Search Engine Strategies Conference on August 9, 2006, the then Google CEO said: “I don't think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a "cloud" somewhere.”

Regardless of how far back you trace the origins of the cloud or who you believe coined the term first, we can all agree that it has been a transformative innovation, enabling scalable web services and on-demand data access.

What Is Cloudification?

Cloudification or cloud migration refers to the process of transferring different organizational operations and services to cloud-based platforms. Virtually any process, service, or application can be transitioned to the cloud as part of cloudification.

flair is an example of the cloudification of HR. Our platform is a comprehensive cloud-based HRIS that handles everything from recruitment and employee data management, to shift planning, performance development, and inventory management.

An example of an HR process moving to the cloud is the migration of the recruitment process to an applicant tracking system (ATS). Traditionally, recruitment processes involve paper-based applications, manual tracking of candidates via spreadsheets, and limited communication channels, often resulting in inefficiencies and delays.

With upgrades to a cloud-based ATS, organizations have been able to streamline the recruitment process with online job postings and application submissions, and real-time candidate tracking accessible from any device. HR solutions or SaaS applications with in-built ATS offer centralized databases where HR teams can store and manage candidate information via a cloud-based application or platform.

Multicloud: Multicloud involves using several cloud computing services. Salesforce is considered a multicloud platform because it offers a suite of cloud-based services, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud.

For human resources, cloudification offers significant advantages, transforming each process into a more agile, efficient, and strategic operation. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of cloud computing for HR.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing for HR

Enhanced Accessibility and Flexibility: Cloud computing enables HR professionals and employees to access HR systems from anywhere at any time. This accessibility is particularly beneficial for business continuity in today’s remote and hybrid work environments, where employees need to stay connected and productive outside the traditional office setting.

Improved Data Management and Security: Cloud platforms offer data security measures, including encryption, firewall management, access controls, and regular security audits. This ensures that sensitive data, such as employee records and payroll information, is protected against unauthorized access and cyber threats. Additionally, cloud systems provide reliable data backup and disaster recovery solutions, safeguarding critical information in times of emergency or power outages.

Cost Efficiency: By moving to the cloud, organizations can reduce their IT infrastructure costs. Today’s public cloud services largely operate on a subscription pricing model, eliminating the need for large upfront investments in hardware and software. This cost-effective approach allows HR departments to allocate resources to more strategic initiatives rather than maintaining large-scale on-premises storage systems.

Scalability: Cloud-based HR systems can easily scale to accommodate the growth of an organization. Whether a company is expanding its workforce or opening new offices, cloud platforms tend to be able to adjust to increased demands without requiring substantial changes to the underlying infrastructure.

Real-Time Analytics and Reporting: Cloud computing can facilitate an HR department’s access to large amounts of centralized data while enabling the use of real-time analytics and reporting tools. These tools can provide valuable insights into workforce trends, employee performance, and other key metrics, allowing HR professionals to make data-driven decisions. Predictive analytics, powered by cloud data and large language model technology, can even forecast future HR needs and help in strategic workforce planning.

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication: Cloud platforms facilitate better collaboration among HR teams and other departments. Tools such as shared calendars, project management applications, and real-time communication channels enable efficient teamwork and streamline HR processes.

Serverless computing: This is a cloud model where the cloud provider manages the infrastructure, allowing developers to focus solely on writing code.

How Cloud Computing Has Changed HR

Cloud computing has transformed the HR landscape, bringing about large-scale modernization. Prior to the advent of cloud infrastructure, HR operations were often manual, time-consuming, and paper-based. Employee records, payroll processing, benefits administration, and recruitment were handled through cumbersome processes that required significant administrative effort and were prone to errors. Physical storage was also a costly side effect.

With the introduction of cloud computing, these processes have been accelerated and automated, resulting in increased efficiency and accuracy. Cloud-based HR systems provide centralized platforms where all HR-related data and processes can be managed from a single interface.

This centralization allows for better data management, real-time updates, and easier access to information. Employees can now access their personal information, submit leave requests, and check their payroll details online, reducing the administrative burden on HR staff and improving the overall employee experience.

Load balancing: This ensures that cloud-based applications can handle large volumes of traffic, recover from failures, and provide a desirable user experience.

HR Cloud Solution Stats

The shift to cloud computing has undoubtedly changed the way organizations carry out their HR operations. Cloud-based HR systems have automated many routine tasks, freeing up HR professionals to focus on strategic initiatives such as talent management, employee engagement, and organizational development. Let’s take a look at some stats that signal why a cloud-based HR solution is worth exploring:

  • 86% of HR leaders reported improved productivity after implementing cloud-based HR.
  • 82% of respondents to PwC’s HR Tech Survey 2022 made cost savings thanks to a cloud-based HR solution.
  • According to a Forbes report, more than half (55%) of business leaders believe the most significant impact of cloud-native tech on their business are changes to processes and ways of working.
  • 93% of IT businesses plan to undergo cloudification in the next five years.
  • 70% of companies say more than half of their infrastructure is in the cloud.
  • According to a 2023 survey by Deloitte, 90% of organizations see cloud technology as important for growth and modernization.
  • 44% of organizations adopt the latest cloud products as soon as they’re available from service providers.

flair, Salesforce, and the Cloud

So what does flair have to do with cloud architecture? Well, flair is an advanced HR solution built on Salesforce.

Thanks to Salesforce’s scalable and flexible cloud infrastructure, flair allows companies to efficiently manage all HR operations with ease, accommodating growth and changing business needs without the need for extensive physical infrastructure.

With flair, organizations can scale up or scale down their HR operations. Built natively on the Salesforce platform, flair also seamlessly integrates with Salesforce products such as Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Slack, as well as local payroll solutions, scheduling tools, and recruitment platforms. Here are more benefits you might be interested in if you are thinking of switching to flair’s cloud-based HR solution:

  • Innovation: Our software benefits from the underlying Salesforce platform, which is constantly updated with up-to-the-moment developments in artificial intelligence, analytics, and performance.
  • Comprehensive: flair is an end-to-end HR solution, meaning organizations can manage the entire employee lifecycle using one solution. It even comes with an employee self-service portal.
  • Insightful: flair provides flexibility in analyzing data from different locations and departments without the need for complex infrastructure changes.
  • Security: Salesforce is a leading enterprise platform in terms of security and reliability, making it the ideal technology to protect your sensitive HR data.
  • Availability: Salesforce and flair are both 100% cloud-based, meaning users with an internet connection can access them anywhere and anytime.
  • Scalability: Some of the world’s best-known companies run on Salesforce. The platform can scale to almost any size, making it ideal for growing companies.
  • Adaptability: The Salesforce platform is highly customizable, meaning you can easily adapt flair to your specific workload and business needs. Our Salesforce experts can provide advice on best practices.

Who Uses the Cloud?

Cloud services tend to be accessible from anywhere in the world, provided there is an internet connection. Cloud tech is useful for a wide range of entities, including:

  • Businesses of all sizes, from startups to multinational corporations, use cloud services for everything from data storage to running various types of cloud applications.
  • Government agencies can utilize cloud computing for improved efficiency and security.
  • Educational institutions use cloud platforms for virtual classrooms, collaboration tools, and administrative management.
  • Healthcare providers can adopt cloud solutions for electronic health records (EHR), telemedicine, and data analytics.
  • Individuals use cloud services for personal data storage (e.g. Dropbox), email, and other services.

Types of Cloud Computing Services

There are three primary types of cloud computing services:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This provides virtualized computing resources over the internet. Examples include Amazon Web Services (AWS), VMware, and Microsoft Azure on Windows.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Offers hardware and software tools over the internet, typically for application development. Examples include Google App Engine and Heroku.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Delivers software applications over the internet on a subscription basis. Examples include Salesforce, flair, and Microsoft Office 365.

Some platforms, like Google Cloud, offer a comprehensive suite that includes IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, providing versatile solutions for various business needs.

Uses of Cloud Computing in Business

Cloud computing can be used in numerous ways within a business, including:

  • Data Storage and Backup: Securely storing and backing up data.
  • Business Applications: Running applications such as CRM, ERP, and HR management systems.
  • Big Data Analytics: Analyzing large datasets to gain analytical insights and drive business decisions.
  • Collaboration Tools: Enabling teams to collaborate in real-time through tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
  • E-commerce: Hosting online stores and managing transactions.
  • Development and Testing: Providing environments for developing and testing new applications.

Cloud computing supports the latest trends in workforce management, such as remote work, flexible scheduling, and real-time collaboration.

With cloud-based HR systems, employees can access their work-related information and tools from anywhere, facilitating a more flexible and mobile workforce.

Additionally, cloud platforms like flair enable real-time updates and communication, which are crucial for managing a distributed workforce. With flair, end users also benefit from the integration of various workforce management tools, like DocuSign and Calendly, creating a seamless experience for both HR professionals and employees.

When Is It Time To Change to Cloud-Based HR?

Ever feel like your HR department is stuck in a never-ending episode of Survivor: The Office Edition? Is navigating your current HR system or managing absence requests a bit like the Hunger Games?

Then it might be time to consider a cloud-based HR solution. Here are some telltale signs that your HR strategy is begging for a digital makeover:

  • Data Chaos: Your HR and employee documents look like they were last organized in the 1980s.
  • Manual Madness: You’re still processing payroll with spreadsheets and wrestling with tons of paperwork.
  • Compliance Circus: Keeping up with compliance feels like juggling flaming swords while riding a unicycle. One false move and it’s all over.
  • Limited HR Access: Employees feel like they have a better chance of contacting Mars than HR.
  • Performance Management Maze: Performance reviews are as clear as mud. Employees get feedback that’s more confusing than a Rorschach test.
  • Time Tracking Tribulations: Keeping track of employee work hours and shift patterns is like trying to nail jelly to a wall.
  • Security Scares: Your data security is about as solid as a house of cards.

Embrace the Cloud for a Future-Ready Workforce

As you can see, the cloud has been a long time in the making but it’s changing the way businesses and people operate.

In HR, even in 2024 there remains work to do to achieve digitization and success in future-proofing. Like most industries, there will always be a need and a want to provide professionals with advanced technological tools that can support them in their line of work.

Embracing cloud computing for HR is crucial to this drive. By adopting cloud-based HR solutions, organizations can streamline processes, enhance data security, and improve employee engagement and productivity.

To find out how you could improve your HR operations using flair’s cloud-based technology, book a free consultation with our team of experts.


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