As businesses ready themselves to tackle tough economic times ahead, three firms demonstrate how cloud computing can help cope.

These are challenging times for businesses in Singapore. Surveys by the Singapore Institute of Directors, the Singapore Exchange (SGX), the DP Information Group, and the Singapore Department of Statistics, all point to subdued growth in the next few quarters.

But the resilience of some businesses isn’t allowing this mood to bog them down. Rather it is driving to them to adopt automation and information technology to raise productivity. Over a fifth of businesses in Singapore say they will raise productivity through IT investments, according to a survey by the DP Information Group.

A lot of those investments will be directed to cloud computing, one of the most popular technologies among Singaporean businesses. According to a Computerworld Singapore survey, 42% of businesses in Singapore will increase the amount they invest in cloud computing. And for good reasons.

Cloud computing empowers businesses to overcome challenges.

Cloud computing can:

Convert capital expenses to operating expenses, thereby ensuring greater cash flow predictability;
 Increase business agility and innovation. According to the vForum Singapore Business Survey, 90% of Singaporean businesses say they are confident that cloud computing can enable innovation. This is critical because     according to an SID survey, intense competition is the greatest challenge facing Singaporean businesses;
 Boost the speed of business, by lowering turnaround time;
 Raise productivity levels;
 Offer more secure and dependable disaster recovery;
 Lower the total cost of IT ownership and shrink the need for IT manpower, an important agenda with the SID reporting “manpower constraints” among the top challenges for Singaporean businesses;
 Ensure better support for remote and mobile workers;
 Offer scalable infrastructure without up-front costs;
 Give access to the latest technology; and
 Future-proof against technology obsolescence.

Here is how three Singapore companies leveraged cloud computing to their benefit.

Company Name: One Animation
Industry: Animation   |    Cloud Product: Back up
Benefit from the Cloud: Higher data security and redundancy levels, lower costs, increased productivity

One Animation is a computer animation studio with well-known animations such as Oddbods and Rob the Robot to its name. Its work is broadcast on Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Discovery Kids, ABC, to over 60 countries.

Until a few years ago, One Animation backed up all its work–the real assets of the company–on physical drives fortnightly. The drives were placed at the owner’s home in a waterproof and dustproof storage area. Making these back-ups, once a fortnight, was painful and time-consuming, and resulted is less-than-optimal data redundancy.

Then it signed up with ZONE Back-it Up, a cloud data back-up solution from ZONE Telecom (ZONE). Creating back-ups immediately became easy, seamless, and secure. Work that’s created is backed up to the cloud twice a day, automatically. Using smart technology, ZONE Back-it Up only has to back up changes made to a file, shrinking the back-up window significantly.

“It’s incredibly efficient,” said Mr Read, the studio’s co-founder and executive producer, to the Strait Times.

Thanks to the cloud, One Animation is secure in the knowledge that it’s most precious assets–its work–is always safe. Moving to the cloud also increased productivity and eliminated the costs of investing in physical back-up drives.

Company Name: THT Logistics

Industry: Supply Chain/Logistics   |    Cloud Product: Hosted IP PBX
Benefit from the Cloud: 30% lower communication costs, higher productivity and customer experience, zero capital investments

Founded in 1970, THT Logistics has over 45 years of experience in handling varied logistics services. THT Logistics provides supply chain and logistics solutions to both Singaporean and international businesses. Its client list ranges from Sony to Puma, and from Hitachi to Coca Cola.

The company’s operational footprint is impressive and spans much of the Asia Pacific region. Given the scope of its operations and the high volume of shipments passing through its supply chain, secure and highly-reliable communication infrastructure is mission critical to the company.

One of the challenges it faced was that its customers weren’t able to reach THT Logistics employees once they left their desks, resulting in large communication gaps.

That’s when THT Logistics signed up for ZONE Zentrex, a cloud-based hosted PBX. This cloud solution offered THT Logistics a communication infrastructure that fixed its challenges–without upfront costs.

But more importantly, it enabled customers to reach THT Logistics staff on a single number, across multiple devices, and immaterial of where that staff is located. That had an immediate effect of raising the speed of business and heightening customer experience.

And because ZONE Zentrex merges voice and data networks, it allowed free calls between local, regional and international offices via the Internet, leading to a 30% drop in communication costs.

Company Name: Leeden National Oxygen

Industry: Oil & Energy   |    Cloud Product: Cloud VPS
Benefit from the Cloud: Greater flexibility, reduced downtime, increased support for mobile workers, more centralised control resulting in higher productivity

Based in Singapore, Leeden National Oxygen is among Asia’s leading integration specialists in welding, gas and safety. It has a presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. With over 50 years of experience under its belt, the company knows the importance of leveraging new technology to create better business outcomes.

That is why, some years ago, the company decided to host 10 of its websites, and about 1,000 email accounts on managed dedicated servers.

Soon, however, the company’s needs outgrew this strategy. A lack of flexibility, especially around storage, began to constrain the business. Then hardware and software limitations curtailed the company’s ability to scale or change quickly and align to new market realities. Its strategy of using managed dedicated servers also resulted in higher costs, greater complexity, less-than-optimal performance, and downtime.

In February of 2015, it decided to switch to Cybersite’s Cloud VPS offering. Soon it was able to add storage capacity without downtime, and enable mobile workers to access emails from any device. It was also able to lower costs and increase performance; allow its website design team to control multiple websites easily, increasing productivity; and drive up flexibility and scalability.

These are just some examples of how cloud computing is helping companies. This is a great time for Singaporean businesses to invest in cloud computing. Singapore ranks high on the Cloud Readiness Index 2016, which tracks how ready a country is for cloud computing (based on 10 parameters that include connectivity and cybersecurity, for example). In the last year, Singapore jumped up two spots to become the second most cloud ready country in Asia Pacific with a score of 76.7 out of 100. Hong Kong came first with a score of 78.1.

If there was ever a time to sharpen your business’ ability to tackle economic headwinds with cloud computing, it’s now.