Cloud computing is making it easier for small businesses to bring big ideas to life. From powering the new ‘everywhere office’ and employee training platforms to enabling data-driven decision making, the cloud is providing plenty of benefits for small businesses. And with a report from IDG revealing that more than 90% of businesses are now using cloud computing, it’s obvious that the future will be in the cloud.
But what exactly is cloud computing? And how can small businesses make the most of it?
Cloud computing enables organisations to access their data from anywhere, at any time, through a simple mobile or internet connection. In other words, the days of businesses having to maintain on-site server banks and vast computer rooms are disappearing; today’s office is flexible, fast and fits in your pocket.
There are various services that fit under the umbrella term ‘cloud computing’, but they basically have the same purpose: to empower businesses to access their data from anywhere on the planet. In addition to providing a centralised source for data, some cloud computing services offer platforms for developing and deploying apps, along with a host of other tools.
Let’s take a look at three of the most common cloud computing services, and see what they offer SMEs.
Infrastructure as a Service. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offers businesses an all-in-one package of cloud-based services, including data storage, compute and networking capabilities. IaaS is a pay-as-you-go model, meaning businesses don’t have to allocate valuable resources towards infrastructure they don’t need and won’t use.
Platform as a service. Platform as a Service (PaaS) enables businesses to use cloud-based platforms to develop, deploy and manage apps. The flexibility afforded by PaaS lowers the burden on IT Teams and means that organisations don’t have to maintain the infrastructure that’s usually required for developing applications.
Software as a Service. Software as a Service (SaaS) provides businesses with software on a subscription basis. SaaS is a great choice for maintaining email, CRM systems and more. With SaaS, businesses can benefit from increased flexibility, remote access and automatic updates, all at an affordable price. Even better, SMEs can tailor packages to their specific needs, so that they can create flexible solutions that grow with them.
For small businesses, cloud computing can be the start of a journey towards a more flexible, innovative, information-driven and empowering future.
With cloud computing capabilities, workers can be on the same page, at the same time, whenever they choose. They’ll have trustworthy data from a centralised source at their fingertips. And they’ll be able to work and collaborate from anywhere.
The power of this was never more evident than during the pandemic, when some businesses were able to shift to remote working without missing a beat, while others struggled to move beyond the boundaries of shuttered offices.
But the ability to connect teams and enable them to work remotely is just one of the ways that cloud computing can help small businesses reach their full potential. Here are six other benefits of cloud computing.
Lower IT costs. Small businesses can reduce costs by not having to maintain onsite infrastructure. The cost of legacy systems can be high, both in terms of capital investment and human investment, as SMEs without a SSOT (Single Source of Truth) will find it difficult to optimise their data management for peak productivity.
More financial flexibility. The low initial investment required by cloud computing is important for small businesses who need to get the most impact from their spend. Setting up shop in the cloud provides SMEs with more liquidity and financial flexibility, empowering them to pursue all-important opportunities when they arise, and then scale up their cloud capabilities as needed.
Secure data. Data is one of a business’s most valuable assets, and when disaster hits, it’s important to make sure that data is secure. By using a reputable provider and centralising data in the cloud, it’s better protected against cyber-attacks, environmental threats and everything else, making it easier for SMEs to maintain business continuity.
Break silos. By establishing a reliable SSOT, small businesses can connect departments and encourage collaboration, from inside or outside the office. Connecting sales and service, for instance, can provide teams with a holistic view of the customer, as well as better opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
Provide teams with better business intelligence. Legacy systems and unconnected teams often lead to workers having to use outdated data sets, rogue data, or siloed data that doesn’t show the complete picture. With cloud computing, SMEs can provide the workforce with real-time info and nurture a more data-centric culture.
Stay up to date. Cloud computing relies on automatic updates, which means small businesses will never fall out of step with the latest tech. And because the updates are small and frequent, there’s not a steep learning curve involved.
Navigating the current climate without cloud computing is challenging, but it’s going to be even more difficult in the future.
The Internet of Things will reimagine businesses, industries and our daily lives in striking new ways. The traditional office will be transformed, evolving to suit the needs of the new, highly connected worker, who prioritises flexible scheduling above all else. Data-driven decision making will continue to carry new businesses to new heights, as they leverage information to provide exceptional, highly tailored experiences for their employees and their customers.
For small businesses, the playing field has been levelled. It’s never been easier to reach a worldwide audience, and every SME has the potential to innovate. In other words, every business can be a game changer – and it all starts in the cloud.
To see how you can turbocharge your business’s customer relationships, download a free copy of ‘Your Complete CRM Handbook’.