What is it that turns some SME business owners off of the idea of migrating their email, payroll and HR, CRM or other applications to the Cloud? Is it cost? Security fears? The hassle? The idea that the Cloud is just for big business?
…or is just that many small business owners just don’t fully understand the Cloud and what it can do for them?
There are any number of advantages for small and medium businesses in migrating to the Cloud, and a large range of services on offer that can help increase your business’ flexibility, adaptability and online security at a significantly lower cost than you could accomplish independently.
Whether you’re looking to improve your ability to work collaboratively or remotely, want to ensure that you have the latest and most innovative software, or you’re looking to find cost-effective cyber-security measures, regardless of the size of your business, Cloud computing can provide a solution.
Growing Your Business
One of the most significant advantages to the small business owner of Cloud computing is greater agility. Because you are not purchasing your own hardware or software, and you don’t need to have big capex budgets – you can scale up or scale down according to your needs. This is because Cloud solutions operate on a subscription model, and so you are able to adjust the services and applications that you pay for according to what your business requires at any given time. This creates a more dynamic, responsive and agile model on which to operate which ultimately improves the bottom line.
For instance, you might have Microsoft Office installed on your business PCs, with licences for a set number of users. If circumstances change, you might find yourself having paid for licences that you no longer need, or you may need to buy more. Updating and unifying all your machines to the latest software and tools can also be extremely time consuming, hard to keep track of and an additional expense.
This is not the case with a Cloud-based software as a service solution. Take Office 365 as an example – because you pay via a subscription, it’s simple to add or remove users, so you’re not stuck paying for something you no longer need. Plus, all of your application and system updates are ongoing and automatic — you will always be using the latest features without the need to manually update software, meaning no downtime and no having to keep track of which machines are up to date and which aren’t. And all of this can all be achieved without the need to invest additional time or money, and requires fewer IT resources and fewer people to manage them.
Data retention is, however, not an issue as an inactive user account is still available and maintained as part of the subscription, but no cost is applicable. This means you can easily fulfill your data retention and archival requirements without any added expense.
As a Cloud service subscriber, you get access to the latest cutting-edge innovations, regardless of your size. In effect, it puts you on a level playing field with much bigger companies, as you are not limited by your access to technology because of cost. For the new or emerging business, the Cloud also provides the opportunity to put crucial IT systems in place without the need for major up-front investments.
Working On The Go
Another significant bonus, and one that is essential to many small businesses, is the ability to work on the go. Cloud computing means you can operate your business from wherever you are, because you’re not tied to a particular device or work space. Café or car, home or abroad, your business is where you are, not where your hardware is.
On the Cloud, files are synced automatically so you always have the latest versions of documents and presentations, no matter where you’re accessing them from. You can share and collaborate on projects more effectively, with multiple members of your team being able to contribute to the same piece of work, simultaneously if necessary. Staff are able to work from home or remotely, helping to increase productivity as well. The Cloud makes management of your business easier too, as tasks like payroll and HR can be handled remotely, without the need to be in the office.
For small, new or emerging businesses, Cloud computing means you can have access to the latest, cutting-edge technology that might otherwise be beyond your reach. As well as enhancing your efficiency and productivity, it can make you more competitive with bigger, more-established rivals who may have more financial clout and are better resourced in terms of ICT infrastructure.
There’s no need for large, up-front investments in hardware and IT infrastructure; instead, you are accessing those of your Cloud service provider, which are in likelihood going to be more powerful, sophisticated and secure than any system you could establish yourself. In essence, you can achieve more while spending less.
Your ongoing costs are reduced too. There is no need to pay for hardware maintenance, upgrades and support, which can be a substantial burden on small businesses. A Cloud subscription encompasses a whole range of service and maintenance areas, and your one fee covers a multitude of services that you would otherwise have to pay for individually, such as installing and updating software, managing your email and website servers, running backups — all of these things, which might currently be a cost to you, are taken care of through your service provider, and your monthly fee covers all of these and more.
For some, the thought of having important and potentially sensitive business data stored remotely is a concern.
However, Cloud providers’ success, and the success of Cloud computing in general, relies on their services being secure. Leading Cloud solutions like Office 365 are at the cutting edge in terms of data protection and provide high-level online security in ways that a small business would be hard pushed to match. This decreases the burden on business owners to ensure that their individual cyber-security measures are up to date and able to deal with the latest malware or ransomware, as providers’ data centres are incredibly robust and responsive to new online threats.
There are further bonuses in terms of security as well. For instance, if your PC crashes or your laptop is stolen, all of your data won’t have gone with it. Your files and documents will still be secure, and accessible on a new or temporary device. The Cloud offers the most efficient and reliable backup services so that, even if the worst happens, your laptop loss isn’t compounded by a catastrophic data loss as well.
For more information on A-COM Solutions Pty Ltd and their business consulting services and cloud technologies, contact them at 1300 852 856 or via the website www.a-com.com.au