The cloud is one of the best business tools to be developed in recent years. It has freed companies from the constraints of their locations and endless paperwork, and helped them to become more robust, flexible, and cost-effective.
Research in 2015, stated that 37% of all small businesses had adopted cloud computing, and by 2020, this could rise to 78%. The cloud computing industry is currently worth $55 billion.
Those that aren’t adjusting to the new cloud environment could begin to struggle in the future and feel that they’ve been left behind. So just how are small- and medium-sized businesses winning with cloud solutions? How can your business use the power of cloud technology to ensure you are at the forefront of business operations?
1. Increased Reliability
Cloud computing technology is often more reliable than on premise IT infrastructures, especially if the equipment is getting older. The biggest challenge for businesses is that they have limited resources and this could mean they don’t have the financial backing to employ the best, or enough IT professionals to support in-house IT solutions.
Cloud computing companies, on the other hand, can and do employ specialists. These people will be better at spotting IT solutions and quicker at troubleshooting. Therefore, small, and medium businesses can be quicker to recover from IT failures when using Cloud computing than with an on-site solution.
2. Reduced Cost
The cost for local IT infrastructure can be very expensive. Your small business might need to buy servers, routers, load balancers and storage equipment. All of this is expensive and eats away at your financial resources, limiting your potential for growth.
However, with the cloud system, the only IT equipment you need is the output and input devices (computers, printers, etc.). Another expense that can be saved is the hiring of expensive IT staff.
Some cloud applications are even free at a basic level, and the costs go up as and when you require additional features or services. Therefore, your organization can save significantly on the operational costs of your computing power.
3. Less Risk
Research shows that half of all IT projects failed before cloud computing. Just under three-quarters of senior professionals stated this was because there were insufficient resources for the proposed project. With the cloud, you are getting tried and tested solutions that can be adapted to your business with limited cost.
Therefore, the risks associated with new computing ventures is significantly reduced, the financial resources associated with your new investment are safer, and you can continually upgrade to ensure your business is at the forefront of HR.
Onsite IT infrastructures are incredibly hard to scale up. Your business still needs to operate but while upscaling, systems would need to be taken offline which would disrupt operations, productivity and possibly morale with your staff.
Also, adding to an existing system can cause several challenges including:
- Conflicts between the upgrades and the original infrastructure.
- Planning when the upgrade will happen.
- Collecting the resources to complete the upgrade.
With cloud computing solutions, upgrading your systems takes moments, and you shouldn’t notice any disruption. You can also do it as soon as you need it and reduce services if you no longer need them in the future – this makes it perfect for businesses that see seasonal peaks and troughs with demands in their products/services.
Security is a significant concern for small and medium businesses. Just under half of all cyber-attacks are against small businesses and the campaigns against them can be far ranging. Some of the most prevalent ones include:
Advanced persistent threats (APTs): Long-term attacks that attempt to break into a network over an extended period to avoid detection.
Distributed Denial of Service: A server is intentionally overloaded with requests. The goal is to make a website or internal server inoperable.
Malware: A program installed onto a computer that causes damage or allows unauthorized access to the system.
Password Attacks: Attempts by unauthorized people to gain access to a computer system by guessing the right password.
Phishing: Collection of sensitive information, like login credentials and financial details, through legitimate websites or emails.
Some of these attacks can be severe. Some small companies have had hackers gain access to their systems and encrypt their information. They then demand money for the information to be decrypted.
Cloud solutions are great for your business’ security. For starters, these companies are responsible for your data security, so they will regularly update their security and monitor attempts to access data. Secondly, because data is stored offsite, it is harder for data to be corrupted by infected computers.
However, that doesn’t mean you are completely safe. Remember your passwords could be stolen, and access gained that way.
6. Collaboration Between Teams
One of the best benefits of cloud solutions is that your teams at different locations or in different departments can work simultaneously on projects and documents. For instance, some cloud solutions, like Google Documents allow numerous users to access the same document simultaneously to make changes. This helps to speed up the completion of work and allows for fewer communication errors to occur within the business.
The same information can also be used by different departments but only be inputted once.
A good example would be the sales figures of an off-site sales team. The team leader inputs the sales figures for the team at his site, the HR department can use this for payroll for the month as well as feedback performance trends to senior leadership and the sales team leader.
The information can also be used by the accounting department to predict future income and financial trends for the business, and the marketing team to track the success of campaigns.
Because the information is only entered once, stored in a central location, and then used by numerous departments, the information used by each department is the same, so inconsistencies are eliminated and mistakes reduced.
Your small- or medium-sized business has the chance to excel. Part of that success can be achieved through the adoption of cloud technology which offers your business many benefits. One of the major benefits is the lower cost of developing, implementing, and running the solution throughout your organization.
This will help you to redirect financial resources to other areas of your business to support growth.
Have you adopted the cloud in your business? What is holding you back if you haven’t?
Let us know in the comments below.