Cloud computing has been front and center of the global shift to remote working. Find out how you can maximise this technology for your small business. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic rendered many business practices obsolete. Face-to-face brainstorming sessions, team building activities, even the entire concept of the office. But the global crisis also accelerated the adoption of certain technologies that might be worth holding on to even as the world recovers.
This includes cloud computing. From remote collaboration to virtual classes, cloud-powered applications are creating some semblance of normalcy through these tough times. The cloud used to be such an obscure concept. After all, it was difficult to imagine an intangible, centralised location on the internet that stores data and hosts business processes. But recent years have proved the numerous benefits of ‘moving your business to the cloud.’
Nowadays, almost all big corporations and multinational companies transact their business processes over the cloud. Well, moving to the cloud does make perfect sense for large firms with seemingly unlimited budgets. But what about small businesses? Is the cost of moving worth it? Is it time for you to do it? In this article, we’ll give you seven ways you can use cloud solutions in your small business. After which, you will get a clearer picture of why you should at least consider moving some of your business processes to the cloud.
By its very nature, cloud connectivity allows you and your team to collaborate in real-time from anywhere in the world—so long as you all have internet access. Services like those offered by Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and Google Drive, among others, can allow you and your staff greater flexibility to work from anywhere. With remote employee collaboration, you don’t have to worry about being too tethered to your office or headquarters.
Ever had a laptop crash on you while you’re working on something important? Or had a hard drive suddenly become unreadable when you desperately need the files in it? And when you try to recover the data you need, you are told those are gone forever? Moving your data to the cloud can help prevent such headaches. One of the central features of most cloud-based apps is automatic cloud backup solutions and recovery options. So, even if your team experiences a power outage or hardware malfunctions while working on something important, all it takes to recover their hard work is a click or two.
One of the more widespread applications of the cloud is file storage services. Even if your business is not tech-heavy, you surely have a need for significant file storage capacity. In fact, it’s no longer advisable—if it ever was—to keep your inventory logs, client information databases, and even employee information on physical, on-site archives. Storing everything on the cloud will also allow you access to all these documents anywhere you are. And if security is your concern, know that as the owner and administrator of your small business’s cloud, you can also have full control over who gets to access these files. If you want to run a more sustainable business, moving all your files to the cloud can also empower your operations to go fully paperless.
We understand that data security is one of the biggest reasons why small business owners have been cautious about exploring the cloud. That may have been a valid and pressing concern when the cloud was still in incubation, but the cyber security industry has made great leaps since then. While you would still need to play your part in securing sensitive data, most cloud service providers have now equipped their products with extra security measures. One example is the decentralisation of data through blockchain technology. This makes the information stored on the cloud much harder for hackers to crack.
A common misconception surrounding cloud services is that it requires a considerable upfront investment. But in reality, cloud solutions are very much scalable. What does this mean? It means you can always pay for the services and access level you need for now. For example, you can start with paying for the smallest storage capacity and just move some of your files to the cloud. Eventually, you can increase your usage as your business grows. Since the cloud is also self-managed by the providers, you may be able to eliminate the need for an in-house IT staff to manage your data and tech needs. As you scale your business, your cloud services can simply scale with it.
Are you still hosting your company’s email client on your own servers? Or perhaps you haven’t gotten around to creating personalised or individualised email addresses for your staff? This is another area where you can maximise cloud services. By moving your email hosting to a cloud-powered solution, you won’t have to manage or invest in servers to run your business email. The cloud service provider will now be responsible for that. On top of it all, cloud-hosted email is usually more affordable than on-site servers. We love recommending Microsoft 365 for your cloud hosted email.
While the pandemic may not have rendered brick and mortar stores completely obsolete, it has definitely increased your customers’ reliance on online shopping. If you are running an online store or are thinking of moving your physical store online, cloud-based e-commerce platforms are definitely the way to go. Platforms like Shopify have simply been unparalleled, both in ease of use and cost, that doing away with an in-house store management solution is now a no-brainer. Cloud-based e-commerce platforms are also a breeze to scale without the costly investment in the necessary hardware.
Now that you know how helpful cloud solutions can be for your small business, we’ll leave it to you to decide when it’s the right time to take the leap. In any case, we’re here if you need more information on cloud solutions or if you require assistance in moving your business operations to the cloud. Just schedule a 30-minute, no-obligation conversation with our team today to get started.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
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