Businesses are increasingly taking their operations online. Suddenly the Internet – a platform that was once secondary – is becoming the primary way business is handled. In order to keep up, companies of any size must investigate their online options. Not doing so can result in business decline.

Big consequences for businesses that don’t maximize Internet presence
This lesson is particularly well illustrated in the example of Borders, once a hugely popular bookseller with locations across the country. Founded in 1971, the store enjoyed decades of prosperity and emerged as one of the foremost book retailers in the country. But by the late 2000s it fell into a decline, and by 2011 it had filed for bankruptcy. How could a once formidable business fall off the map so quickly?

According to many industry insiders, the retailer failed to keep up with the changing technological times and strengthen its online presence. According to Time Business, one of the major problems with the store was that for many years it handled its online bookselling through a direct competitor, Amazon.com. This move weakened Borders’ reputation on a national stage, because it made the company appear as though it didn’t know how to manage its Internet presence. Additionally, Borders did not explore eBook technology as quickly as its rival stores. When eBooks began to supersede print books in certain markets, Borders was not prepared for the shift. It did not help that some supposed customers were going to Borders only to peruse books that would later be purchased through an online retailer. Shortly after the organization’s closure, NPR stated that the reason its primary competitor Barnes & Noble survived while it failed is because only one of the two companies embraced the digital age. Whereas both companies had started out dealing exclusively in print books, B&N knew when to begin shifting to e-commerce.

According to industry expert Peter Wahlstrom Borders made misguided moves like going “heavy into CD music sales and DVD, just as the industry was going digital. And at that same time, Barnes & Noble was pulling back.” The company ultimately tried to save itself by making inroads into online commerce, but by then it was too late.

Navigating the cloud is an indispensable skill for online business
For IT consulting executive Jeff Beall, joining the enterprise cloud is a necessary step for all businesses as the push toward online service becomes universal.

As Beall told The Phoenix Business Journal, “The underlying concept of cloud computing has been around for decades.” After all, nobody can deny the appeal of a technological infrastructure that enables businesses to expand and improve operations via the Internet. But for companies like Borders, the challenges of creating such an infrastructure can seem insurmountable. To struggling businesses, Beall encouraged the development of a planning strategy for business migration to the cloud.

“Developing and executing a plan that addresses … questions will go a long way to ensure a successful cloud implementation,” Beall said.

Once implemented, a cloud platform can prove incredibly beneficial for all companies, according to Beall. He divided those benefits into four parts: Scalability, security, continuity maintenance and budget. The security component is an especially important factor that sets the enterprise cloud apart. By moving to a private cloud service provider, businesses ensure that their information will be guarded by authentication walls making it only accessible to them. The defenses built into the cloud protects against breaches and other data storage.

Companies that jump on the cloud wagon reap rewards
Organizations that proactively harness the enterprise cloud not only sustain but improve business. Here are some examples of companies that learned the virtues of navigating the cloud, and then put it to use transforming their enterprise:

  • Xerox: On the surface, this business seems like the direct opposite of the cloud, since its primary concern is paper and printing. But the organization doesn’t let its material focus get in the way of cloud development. By harnessing the enterprise cloud, Xerox offers a service wherein customers can use the cloud to print from devices outside their enterprise, Forbes reported. The service is part of the company’s commitment to adapting to the changing IT landscape in the most cost effective way possible, according to the company’s website.
  • Netflix: The video streaming giant connects to its entire customer base online, where a constant stream of viewers absorb content on a second-to-second basis. This content is then used to make important programming decisions. To deal with this influx, the company migrated to a cloud environment, where it is able to minimize its data center needs while enhancing the services it offers to customers. But Netflix’s commitment to cloud computing goes beyond mere storage. According to Wired, the company is using the cloud to build a system of AI called “deep learning,” which stands to improve the use and navigability of its site by implementing a system of problem solving modeled after the human brain.