Cloud computing is the biggest enabler for any small business to not only establish itself, but also immediately compete with far larger rivals. Whether you’re using services in the cloud or using it to host your own applications, it provides a range of benefits to both business owners and employees.
A wide range of business needs are already covered by services and applications running in the cloud, whether that’s Google Apps for Business for email and collaboration, Dropbox for storage or Freshbooks for invoicing, to name just three.Meanwhile experienced hosting providers can offer a range of cloud hosting options from virtual machines to secure private cloud hosting.
With this blog post, I will share the biggest five reasons to make the switch to cloud-based services today.
More productive employees
You might have assumed lower costs would be first on the list, but successful business owners know the need to invest appropriately. The main benefit of cloud computing in my opinion isn’t saving a few pounds, but instead making a lot more due to the fact it allows you and your team to achieve far more results with less resource.
In terms of basic services, most employees are already using web-based email and storage for their personal needs, so you immediately remove the cost of training. In addition, setting up new users on a service can be done by anyone in minutes, removing the need for dedicated IT staff to spend time on routine tasks.
The rise of homeworking, particularly encouraged during Olympic disruption in London, can mean a length process of setting up ways for employees to dial into the office network to access files. But the definition of a cloud service is that it can be available to any employee with an internet connection, facilitating easier and more productive homeworking, and collaboration with global teams.
Finally by their nature, most Cloud services have been developed to connect to other platforms and solutions via APIs, allowing easy integration of information. For instance, automatically synching your project management, invoicing, and CRM tools can often be achieved via existing web apps rather than custom building a solution – and most also provide smartphone apps along with mobile compatible websites. Given that planes, trains and now even cars are being supplied as WiFi hotspots, backed up by mobile internet access there’s never a time when the necessary file or information should be unavailable.
Scale quickly without changing providers
Generally having to scale up your business is a nice problem to have, but it can often be a lengthy process. And that’s not suitable to online businesses, which can receive a massive surge in traffic or business following an online article, feature or recommendation.
So the first benefit, which is employed by any number of modern businesses, is to be able to quickly and easily cope with any increase in traffic by utilising cloud servers. That means that coping with a sudden rush of business can be accomplished with one quick phone call or email, and should things settle at a slightly lower level, you can reduce your costs just as fast.
But the other problem comes with sustained, long-term growth which often meant a long process of research and investment, and could mean switching service providers – using cloud services and hosting means that all elements of your business can scale indefinitely. So as long as you’re happy, you can stick with what you know.
Save on Secure Computing
The risk of online security failures can often be overblown, particularly when compared with walking your daily takings in a bag to your bank. When it comes to secure computing, it makes more sense to let companies with the resources and expertise handle areas such as credit card payments and secure hosting, rather than investing time and effort to bring yourself up to their level.
Instead you can focus on what has traditionally been the biggest security weakness for any company, which is often employees either being lax about password security (The password written down beside the computer, for example), or being tricked into revealing security details over the phone!
Many cloud-based providers will share basic details of their security provisions, such as multiple remote servers under 24-hour surveillance and with formal processes for anyone to gain access. Compare this to the average on-site server which may sit in a normal office or even a cupboard to which anyone could have access.
Give your business green credentials:
Regardless of your views on saving the environment, it’s not only a consideration for a growing number of consumers, but also a requirement for a large number of business suppliers. And that’s before any governmental or regulatory considerations.
As data transfer and storage massively increases, it’s inevitable that more servers and data centres will require more power. But those requirements are easier to scale in a better way for the environment when those servers can be grouped together by a cloud hosting service, and utilising software to make the most of the available resource.
Cloud computing can also potentially utilise pre-owned servers more effectively rather than seeing them replaced and discarded. The scale of many hosting providers also means that they have the resources to be able to utilise more environmentally sources of power such as solar and wind in addition to any carbon offsetting they undertake.
And for your business, being able to share a more environmentally friendly approach to your work could be an important part of obtaining new customers and meeting the requirements increasingly set by businesses for their suppliers.
Spend less to achieve your business goals
Each of the prior points contained a way that cloud computing can benefit your business and reduce costs in a specific area. You can save on the cost of dedicated IT teams, and the requirement for them to go through lengthy processes in setting up and training employees. By paying for what you are using and having access to quick additional resource you don’t miss out on a sudden rush of business or end up with a redundant extra server should demand fall. You can remove the cost of security specialists and avoid turning your office into a secure bunker, and at the same time become more environmentally friendly by simply switching to a cloud provider.
And all of this comes as part of a process which also allows your team to be more productive regardless of where they are located.
In addition, there is a growing trend for employees to be able to utilise their own equipment in the workplace, which is incompatible with many options for licensing traditional on-site software, but cloud computing removes this barrier. Home working lowers the office space required, and creates saving in utility bills for your workplace.
And at the same time, the infrastructure bills for these services are spread across many customers, allowing for cheaper costs to individual businesses.
The best reason to move to cloud?
Despite the cost savings and multiple benefits of cloud computing to employees and the environment, potentially the final reason for switching to cloud services is the ability to attract business on a level playing field with any competitor.
You have access to the same level of tools and applications, and you can move more quickly and decisively than larger businesses, suddenly giving a massive advantage to smaller companies in the digital era. Whether you need server space, email, document sharing, storage, invoicing, CRM or many other business services, they’re all available regardless of the size of your business.