Cloud computing was considered as buzzwords and marketing gimmicks by some, explaining a concept that has been around back in the 1960’s. However, if you are following the trends in business technology, cloud computing is prominently life hacking for most people and game changing for most businesses (especially small business.)
You see, you have every reason to go cloud… in fact, you ARE doing business in the cloud even without you noticing it. Paul Hochman in Business on Main’s Tech Notes mentioned that 78 percent don’t know what the cloud is. If you are one of them, no worries – check out this interesting, easy-to-discern explanation about the cloud…
Are you using Gmail or Yahoo! Mail? You are in the cloud. Are you using Facebook, Twitter, Chime.in and other social media sites? You are in the cloud. Are you using Dropbox to store and share files? You are using cloud storage services – you ARE in the cloud. Are you using Office 365 or Google Apps for Business? You are (definitely) in the cloud.
The truth is, everything you do online, you do it in the cloud; the Internet is one, humongous cloud.
Of course, when people say, “Oh, you should adopt cloud computing for your business…” they mean a little different thing; they mean that you should move your business operations – partially or entirely – to the cloud, typically by signing up with third-party cloud vendors (public cloud,) building your own small business cloud (private cloud,) or mix different kind of clouds to form a bigger small business cloud (hybrid cloud.)
Sounds cool – but why?
First of all, let me tell you something; you can call me a “cloud evangelist” but I truly believe that the cloud offer huge benefits for small business in term of reduced costs, increased productivity, and… an edge in business competition.
Reduced (IT) costs
By bringing your business in to the cloud, you don’t need to build an IT infrastructure yourself (read: Buy computers, acquire software, set networking, and buy fixtures) – you can save big. Hardware and software are made available by the cloud vendors; you only need to subscribe or pay-as-you-go to access the resources. This is particularly beneficial for startups, in term of reduced initial capital expenditures.
Of course, you need to do your due diligence as there are a few cases I know showing that cloud computing is actually increasing overall IT costs. But all in all, it is proven that integrating cloud computing to your business can reduce overall IT costs, including IT infrastructure investment and operational expenses.
Using third-party cloud services can help you and your staffs to be more productive.
Using cloud storage solutions, such as Box.net and Dropbox, you can store your files in the cloud and share them with your team members, and even your clients – quickly.
Using online collaboration/project management tools like Basecamp, Huddle, and other online collaboration and project management applications allow you to collaborate with your staffs and anyone you give access to regardless of their physical location (remote access), as long as they have access to a computer and the Internet: You can have a web meeting, chat session, work on a project, track project progress, etc. – all done online, using web-based software.
An edge in business competition
As a startup, going to the cloud means you have more room in your budget – your initial operational costs are more manageable and you can direct your resources to what’s important on your bottom line: Get the buzz out about your business, and take care of your clients well.
What’s more, cloud services allow your small business to be more responsive to changes, more eco-friendly and more flexible. Plenty of benefits that can surely give you an edge over your competitors.
Cloud computing offers a lot of benefits for your small business. However, don’t get into the cloud blindly, just following the cloud computing trends.
You need to, again, do your due diligence; you need to ponder on the cloud computing benefits, as well as cloud computing risks (yes, just like anything else, cloud computing has its own set of risks!) Be sure to get information from the right source and consult with the right cloud-savvy people.
So, if you are still not sure what cloud computing is and how it can benefit your small business, check out this brief cloud computing 101 video:
Disclaimer: I receive incentives to share my views on this particular blog post, but all of the opinions are my own. My blog is a part of an online influencer network for Business on Main.