Small to mid-size businesses add much value to the communities they serve. They bolster economies, employ citizens, provide goods and services, and beautify Main Streets all over the country. Do you own a small business? If so, we salute you.
Do you use cloud technology solutions to support the operations for that business? After all, just because your business is small doesn’t mean you can’t leverage the operational, financial, and security benefits cloud technology affords SMBs. In fact, using cloud solutions might just change everything about your business operations. Let’s explore how.
The Many Benefits of Cloud Technology
At face value, cloud technology can sound intimidating and even expensive, but the reality is cloud computing can offer many benefits and big cost savings for a small business owner. Cloud can allow you to run your business more efficiently, save time and resources, provide enhanced security, and afford you and your team the ability to collaborate in ways that were previously not possible. Here are some of the benefits your business could realize by integrating cloud into your operations:
Greater accessibility. Is your smartphone in your pocket or purse right now? Do you use it for work, play, or both? According to Intuit, almost half of all small business owners surveyed last year said they used their smartphones as their primary device for operating their companies. Besides the convenience factor of cloud business apps on mobile devices, there’s also the practicality factor. Cloud technology affords you and your team the ability to work from anywhere, and to access the information you need, when you need it. Whether it’s midnight on a Tuesday and you’re doing customer invoicing, or sitting at your son’s baseball game doing employee payroll on your mobile device, cloud technology, its accessibility and flexibility, can be the best of both worlds—giving you just what you need to run your business whenever and wherever you need it.
Affordability. Cloud solutions are incredibly affordable, and become more so all the time. Businesses no longer need to buy their own servers or rely on an IT staff for support. Third party vendors can provide state-of-the-art equipment, hosting, storage, scalability, security, and support, all at what is normally a fraction of the cost of doing it yourself.
Security. Enhanced security is a big reason to consider using cloud technology, especially when it involves the services of a cloud service provider (CSP). In today’s technology-driven world, the risk of security breaches is great and a breach could have a big impact on a small business. For instance, if you have an ecommerce business and/or accept credit card payments from customers, taking steps to ensure that you are PCI compliant. Compliance is regulated by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, and requires that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. As a small business owner, you can choose to navigate these waters yourself, or you can work with a cloud services provider who can help ensure you are not only PCI compliant, but that both your business data and customer data is secure every step of the way.
Scalability. One of the most exciting benefits of cloud technology for the small business owner or entrepreneur is that cloud affords the ability to scale up, or down, rapidly. Some of the most successful businesses started in some entrepreneur’s basement and quickly became an overnight success, with multiple employees, hundreds of customers. In some cases, this might potentially be a big strain on the business. Cloud technology, however, allows companies to scale as quickly as they need to, allowing leaders to focus on growth and profitability and not equipment and capital outlay.
Where is Cloud on the Horizon for You and Your Business?
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought as it relates to adopting cloud solutions for your business. And if you’re considering cloud, you’re not alone. Intuit’s The Appification of Small Business presentation projects that 78 percent of SMBs will be fully operational on cloud by 2020, and it’s well worth your time to check out.
Intrigued? It might be helpful to take a look at exactly how many SMBs are using cloud to get an idea of what’s working. A New Jersey Institute of Technology survey revealed some of the projects SMB respondents had planned for the next twelve months. Highlights include the following. You can see a full breakdown in Figure 1 below.
- Email/collaboration software (63 percent).
- Web/e-commerce solutions (55 percent).
- Office tools and productivity (56 percent).
If you’re curious about the symbiotic relationship between SMBs and the cloud and are looking for further reading, check out Dan Kobialka’s recent PivotPoint post titled Why Are SMBs Choosing Cloud Solutions? Here’s a Closer Look. It will provide some insight and perspective.
If you’re an SMB considering venturing into cloud, what is holding you back? What challenges do you see, or barriers to adoption? Maybe you’ve already embraced cloud solutions for your business—if so, what are you using and how do you like it?
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Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”