No matter how you refer to the Internet—the cloud, the Web or the information superhighway—the reality is that if it has not disrupted your industry yet, it will. Companies that are slow to adapt to technology are fast losing to competitors who are using the Internet to cut costs and increase scale. In order to compete in today’s global economy, companies must embrace the Internet not as an ancillary tool but as a core component. Mirroring the proliferation of the Internet, two other phenomena have altered the way in which we go about our daily lives: globalization and big data.

Cisco Systems Inc. has distilled these two phenomena into one simple phrase: “the Internet of everything.” Cisco’s mission is to help companies, individuals and governments make the “valuable connections [that] will change the world.” In today’s rapidly changing world, the Internet renders the five-year business plan obsolete and encourages companies to embrace globalization and big data now rather than in the future—when it could be too late.

The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that using big data effectively in the U.S. health care industry alone could lead to the equivalent of $300 billion in value every year. European government administrators could save more than $149 billion in operational efficiency by using big data, McKinsey estimates. It’s ironic, but in a global economy where data is king, industries dependent on quality and confidentiality find themselves working alongside hackers, coders and statisticians.

Many corporations realize the benefits of operating in the cloud and the advantages of cost, speed and scale the cloud offers. But most companies have yet to realize they can embrace more of what the Internet has to offer without sacrificing the confidentiality and quality their industries depend on.

Caution is not entirely a bad thing. Take a software as a service (SaaS) or a crowdsourced platform as an example. When assessing it before embracing its power, corporations should consider three things about that SaaS or crowdsourced platform:

1. Safety and Security. When using any online platform, safety and security are important. When using software as a service or a crowdsourced platform, safety and security are critical. Be sure to ask how much information the platform can handle and how secure the information is.

2. Reliability. The key here is to try before you buy. Any good software as a service or crowdsourcing company will offer you a chance to test the system or obtain a realistic quote. If the company requires you to buy the product first, find a competitor.

3. Availability. Your customers never stop moving and neither should your business. In today’s global marketplace, the chance of serving a new customer or international client is never far away. When vetting a SaaS or crowdsourcing platform, be sure vendors offer you global support and ask if they have the ability to expedite or execute on rush orders so that you can better serve your clients.

Kunal Sarda, WG’11


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Editor’s note: Ryan is handing over his blog for this post to his co-founder at VerbalizeIt, Kunal Sarda, WG’11. Kunal currently serves as COO of VerbalizeIt, a human-powered language translation company. Previously, he was a management consultant and helped guide global commercial strategy for early stage and Fortune 500 companies.