Cloud computing allows businesses to access essential data from anywhere with internet connection. It means that workers are no longer chained to the office – or office hours – and can instead transform kitchens, restaurants, beaches and cars into workplaces. The term ‘cloud computing’ can refer to several different services, including storage, backup, software and hosting services, but the objective is the same: on-demand access to data with no boundaries and no limitations.
There are different types of cloud services, each with its own benefits:
Infrastructure as a Service. Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, offers businesses cloud-based storage, computing, and networking capabilities on a pay-as-you-go basis. With IaaS, hardware, software and other infrastructure components are included.
Platform as a service. Platform as a Service, or PaaS, is a set of cloud-based services that enable businesses to build and manage new applications quickly and easily, without needing the on-site infrastructure often associated with developing apps.
Software as a Service. Software as a Service, or SaaS, offers businesses access to applications on a subscription basis, making it a popular choice for email, IM and CRM. SaaS offers increased efficiency, scalability, remote access and automatic updates, all at a cost-effective price.
Which type of cloud services you opt for will depend on your business objectives, budget and how much control you want to have over your infrastructure.
Look at cloud computing for small businesses as the great enabler. The flexibility it provides means that workers now have multitudes of data at their fingertips. Those dusty racks of servers that used to populate entire floors of office buildings have been replaced; the new cloud-based office fits in your pocket.
To see the power of cloud computing for small business, look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic. SMEs that operated in the cloud were better able to pivot to remote working and new business models than those that relied on physical datastores and legacy infrastructure. Cloud computing provided these teams with the tools they needed to keep operating in the face of lockdown measures, and in many cases, it helped them increase productivity.
Here are six other benefits of cloud computing for small business.
Reduce IT costs by not having to maintain legacy infrastructure. One of the most attractive benefits of cloud computing is the savings associated with not maintaining hardware and networking equipment. Additionally, by not having to rely on a dedicated onsite IT team to create and deploy apps, SMEs can develop their own affordable solutions on an as-needed basis.
Low initial investment, providing SMEs with more liquidity, flexibility and cash flow. Setting up operations in the cloud requires a smaller initial investment, enabling small businesses to be more flexible with their budgets. Moreover, SMEs won’t have to pay for software that they aren’t using. And as more employees shift to remote, cloud-based working, SMEs can reduce the costs of office space and utilities.
Disaster-proof your data. Maintaining business continuity in a crisis is an essential consideration for small businesses. By keeping their businesses operations in the cloud, SMEs can disaster-proof their valuable data and safeguard it from hazards, including potential environmental and cyber threats.
Break silos and encourage collaboration. We’ve seen a sea change in the way SMEs leverage their talent. While it was once standard to keep workers siloed by expertise, SMEs are now freeing them to work across functions. The cloud enables this cross-functional workflow, empowering teams to collaborate with real-time information—dreaming of connecting sales and service? Cloud computing makes it possible.
Leverage real-time information for better business intelligence. To get the most out of their data, SMEs need to turn it into actionable information. And by keeping all their data in a central location – the cloud – SMEs can eliminate rogue, siloed and outdated data, ensuring that their teams are working with a trustworthy source. Creating a more data-driven culture starts in the cloud.
Auto-updates will keep SMEs from falling behind. Any SaaS, PaaS or IaaS package will include automatic updates, so small businesses don’t have to worry about security vulnerabilities, outdated technology or synching issues. This can result in significant savings. And as technology further develops, incremental updates will help SMEs keep up with the times without a steep learning curve.
Cloud computing can not only help SMEs navigate the current climate; it can position them for success in a digital-first future. And this potential future looks to be radically empowering for small businesses that think big – if they’re prepared to seize it.
The Internet of Things promises to connect the world in truly revolutionary ways, reimagining entire industries. Business intelligence derived from cloud-based analytics will help small businesses make smarter decisions. Expensive offices will give way to efficient, on-demand workplaces that require no commuting time, no high-cost IT teams, and can flex with an employee’s unique requirements. Silos will be broken, fragmented data will be united and easily accessible, and teams will all have access to real-time data that they can trust. This data will not only provide a basis for better decision-making; it will help SMEs craft unique customer journeys and improve their employee experience.
In other words, the digitally-driven future looks to be a place where barriers will come down. SMEs will be more data-driven, the employee experience will be markedly improved, and businesses will be far more flexible. Cloud computing isn’t just a modern convenience; it’s a game-changer.
To see how SMEs can leverage the power of the cloud to connect with their customer, check out our eBook, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to CRM.