Small and medium businesses (SMEs) play a significant role in the development and growth of the economy of any country. They are also a vital part of the global economy. To stay afloat in an increasingly interconnected and competitive global market, SMEs also need to adapt to the latest technology. SMEs that fail to do so will eventually have to close their doors.
One of the most crucial technologies that SMEs must start using is cloud computing. It can help your business grow swiftly, lower infrastructure costs, and help drive innovation. According to a survey by Gartner, up to 60 per cent of organisations will use an external service provider’s cloud-managed service offerings by 2022, doubling the percentage of such organisations since 2018.
If you still haven't considered cloud computing, learning about the following benefits should help you make the decision.
1. Enjoy exceptional flexibility and scalability
Cloud computing offers your employees as well as your clients the flexibility to work from anywhere. You can use a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop with a secured internet connection to work from the office, home, or when on-the-go.
Thanks to the flexible access, your business can enjoy increased productivity. This trend is gradually taking root in many industries. According to a two-year Stanford study, employee attrition decreased by 50 per cent among telecommuters (work-from-home employees), they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.
At the same time, cloud computing will also provide you with excellent scalability. You can easily add new users without having to buy server and workstation upgrades. You can also scale up or down your bandwidth, applications, processing power, and other features as and when you need it.
2. Secure your business with disaster recovery options
In-house data backup is not only expensive and time-consuming but also risky. In the event of a natural calamity or data breach, you risk losing or compromising all your business data in an instant.
The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) states that 43 per cent of cyber-attacks target small businesses. Even the modest security breach can put a small organisation out of business. With the help of a data recovery option, however, you can overcome the risk of losing your business data should a data breach occur. This system can also help protect your data against unexpected hardware and power failure.
Most cloud service providers and managed IT service providers offer different data recovery options. You can choose the right one depending on your data type, size, and the likeliness of a potential hack.
3. Save money with pay-as-you-go models
Most cloud computing companies offer pay-as-you-go subscription models. So, you pay only for the services you are using. You can also add or remove any of your services or features anytime you want.
Furthermore, you don't need to recruit, maintain and pay in-house IT staff as your service provider will maintain the services or applications for a small monthly fee. You also don't have to invest in hardware installations and run software updates on a network of your own. Further, you need not add extra servers and hardware for growing data storage.
Thus, for many small and medium-sized businesses, shifting to a cloud-based business model can result in significant money and time savings, especially in the long run.
It is also easy to set up new user accounts, manage daily activities, and ensure regular updates. In other words, hiring one or two IT guys can help you run things smoothly; or with training, a non-tech guy can also take care of daily activities.
4. Streamline your business goals with big data analytics
Running a business in the digital world comes with a few challenges. To identify the behaviour of your target audience and uncover the latest market trends in your business, you need to gather and analyse tons of data. When you have a cloud-based business model, you can make use of big data analytics to do just that.
Depending on your business model, the cloud service provider may offer you a built-in big data analytics feature, or you can use any suitable big data analytics tool. You can quickly analyse multiple data sets and draw appropriate conclusions, helping you make informed business decisions.
Steps taken based on detailed data analysis can help you run successful advertisement and marketing campaigns, as well as social media campaigns. It can also help you analyse your internal business processes and employee performance. Thus, cloud computing can help you streamline your business goals relatively easily and quickly.
5. Get automated updates and enhanced security
Cloud service providers offer automated updates for your systems and applications. So, you don't have to invest time and labour in keeping track of updates. Regular updates also ensure better security as the chances of a security breach due to an outdated firewall or system software is reduced.
Plus, most cloud service providers also offer various security measures to keep your data safe. For example, in Office 365, a cloud-based solution offered by Microsoft, you can use the built-in mobile device management feature to remove only organisational information or execute a factory reset to delete all information from a stolen or lost mobile device.
You can also keep track of logins, devices your employees are using, implement access control based on authority, and get real-time alerts if someone tries to hack into your network. All these security features help you run your business smoothly at a relatively low cost and minimal legwork.
Dave Goodenough, founder, InsideOut Networking