Cloud computer applications have completely revolutionized how SMBs operate. The ability to have premium software available, at affordable prices, and without the need for advanced infrastructure is remarkable. There are cloud services to help SMBs manage every aspect of their business including marketing, scheduling, data storage, sales, and much more.
In addition to the sheer quantity of applications available, here are 5 reasons SMBs should use cloud services.
With over 50% of SMBs closing within their first 5 years, making a large investment in software and hardware might not be the best decision. When considering services such as data storage, analytics, software, and other features available as cloud services, the operational expense model simply makes more sense for SMBs.
The cost of buying software or developing new software is constantly increasing. SMBs typically do not have the capital to make these purchases outright and are trying to save money wherever possible. Choosing to use cloud services as opposed to installing expensive systems that they cannot afford and may not need 5 years from now is more economically feasible.
As a SMB grows, so will their computing needs. SMBs need to think long term and plan for expansion. Being limited to the storage allotted in a physical backup drive or server does not leave room for growth. Cloud computing allows SMBs to increase or decrease their resources in real time.
The cost of adding new servers and installing updates manually can get high. These updates can also lead to lost production time because all systems may need to be shut down in order to update. All of this can be avoided when using cloud services because scaling up or down is as simple as clicking the mouse a few times or placing a phone call.
Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular with the wide range of mobile devices and applications designed for business. According to a survey conducted by Wrike, a project management software company, 83% of the employees surveyed (1,074) claimed to work from home at least part time in 2012. 66% of respondents felt that their companies could function completely online in the next 5 years.
Cloud computing addresses these statistics by making it easier than ever for employees of SMBs to collaborate without ever having to be in the same office. Video conferencing (Skype), cloud storage (Google Drive), project management applications (Basecamp), and services such as Google Docs make it extremely easy for SMBs to function completely online. This saves companies the cost of renting out a large physical office as well.
4. Simplifies IT Needs
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is that services are beginning to include multiple features. Meaning instead of simply performing a single function, cloud services are able to handle a variety of needs. For instance, a sales application may include the ability to e-catalog, provide analytics, function as a POS, and more. Without using cloud services, SMBs would be forced to use one application to create a catalog, one for analytics, and another for a POS system.
Cloud computing also simplifies IT needs because cloud services normally include tech support. This eliminates the need to hire a dedicated tech support employee or team, which many SMBs cannot afford.
Ironically one of the leading reasons companies cite for not utilizing cloud services (most notably storage) is they feel there is a lack of security. This is a big misconception about cloud computing in general. Companies that offer cloud services are much better prepared and equipped in terms of IT security than the average SMB. These companies are run by experienced IT experts and typically have entire departments dedicated to IT security.
An overwhelming number of SMB offices fail to implement basic IT security measures such as backing up data, updating programs, or even using anti-virus software. Using cloud services is definitely the way to go if security is a concern.
Ilan Hertz is the VP of Marketing at SysAid Technologies, a leading provider of IT Service Management solutions, deployed at over 100,000 companies around the world.