Cloud computing is growing across almost every business sector, and SMBs are no exception. For many, cloud services provide a more efficient way to manage documents, automate invoicing and achieve levels of organizational flexibility that were previously impossible to reach.
Here are several ways that small businesses are seeing value from their cloud solutions.
1. Accessibility can be expanded
Industry expert Nishant Kadian wrote in an article for Cloud Tweaks that one of the cloud's biggest perks is its inherent accessibility. The ability to retrieve important files or information from a remote location is imperative for companies in the modern business climate. He noted that productivity can be improved, as employees are able to contribute to projects at any time, from anywhere. Real-time collaboration and device sharing enable organizations to achieve greater flexibility.
2. The cloud has proven to be cost-effective
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of employing the cloud is its cost-effectiveness. Kadian said that in comparison to maintaining a physical hardware and software system on-site, the initial investment and regular subscription fees that cloud services require are a bargain. He pointed out that cloud vendors generally provide free technical support as well, so any issues should be resolved externally. The pay-as-you-go nature of the technology can lower the cost of infrastructure spending, as well.
"Cloud providers constantly update and improve their security systems."
3. Data is more secure when stored virtually
Kadian mused that while many companies fret over the security of their data when it is in a remote location, virtual storage has actually proven to be safer than on-premise. He noted that most cloud providers constantly update and improve their security systems, including encryption techniques that keep the data from being accessed by any unauthorized source. Compared to an in-house storage solution, the security of which might not be monitored consistently by busy IT staff, cloud vendors have entire departments devoted to protecting users' data.
What's the hold up?
Given all of the cloud's inherent advantages over the use of on-site data servers, one might be surprised to learn that the cloud has not yet firmly grabbed a hold of the SMB market. A recent study conducted by CDW found that, among companies that do use it, only 35 percent of all IT services are cloud-based.
Part of the apprehension that has prevented widespread adoption can be traced to the fact that evaluating costs and benefits can be somewhat tricky. CDW reported that only 25 percent of respondents indicated they sourced financial models for the cloud internally, and less than half of those trials proved to be accurate. Companies that used external reports rated their accuracy at just 55 percent.
Because of this, the idea that the cloud is somehow risky has been perpetuated. Kadian asserted that, in the SMB sector, companies that are still apprehensive about the cloud are sure to fall behind their competitors. The technology was designed to improve productivity when implemented effectively, and its value can be very high, particularly for small businesses.