There is a lot of buzz around “the cloud,” and how it shows both IT and business benefits. For IT, the cloud brings enhanced infrastructure, flexibility, mobility and management—empowering small businesses with these IT capabilities to compete with large enterprises. On the business side, the cloud improves processes, productivity, collaboration and innovation.
The cloud is here to stay. So when does it make sense to integrate your small business with cloud-based technology? This post examines three powerful business cases for the cloud:
1. Growth and Expansion
In its Special Publication 800-145, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
For small businesses poised to grow, this definition translates to easily deployable networks, server space, applications and services that you pay for as you use. The cloud limits the burden of upfront investment in expensive hardware, software and maintenance that may go unused until needed, potentially months or years. It frees small business owners to invest that funding in other areas to support business growth.
2. Mobile Workforce
Technologies like smartphones, tablets and laptops give your workforce flexibility when it comes to where and when they work. In fact, according to Mashable, 3 out of 5 workers say they do not need to be in the office to be productive.
Maintaining a collaborative, connected and secure mobile workforce is made easier with the cloud. The cloud offers services that promote secure group discussions, messaging, file sharing, and meetings, as well as provides access to contact management systems and specialized applications. Because cloud services are typically browser- or app-based, mobile workers can access them anywhere and anytime, via a secured Internet connection.
In addition, the cloud simplifies technology management by giving your IT firm or professional one portal from which to diagnose issues, make upgrades, and install new security features. All changes are then reflected on all end-user devices instantly, eliminating the time-consuming task of updating each user’s technology individually.
3. Technology Refresh
All technology requires regular updates, ongoing maintenance and the occasional upgrade to newer, faster products—a heavy ongoing expense for any size business. The cloud puts ongoing technology maintenance and upgrades in the hands of your provider. Your only expense is their fee, which includes management, usage and access.
According to Forbes, a “Deloitte study confirmed that cloud deployments delivered greater investment returns with a shorter payback period when compared to the traditional on-premise delivery option.”
If your small business is at a point where it needs to upgrade or invest in new technologies, this is the perfect opportunity to begin investigating possible cloud solutions.
Start Your Integration with the Cloud
To get started, open a dialogue with your IT professional or firm, and work together to ensure you are considering all aspects of integration, including but not limited to:
- Business objectives and potential impacts
- Cost analysis
- Service provider selection
- Implementation—cover everything from security and storage, to interoperability and a detailed service level agreement (SLA)
The more thorough your planning and preparation, the more your business will benefit.
Questions about how the cloud can benefit your small business? Please leave your questions in the comments section, or contact me directly at 216.255.6300.