For the last few years, the cloud has been embraced by SMEs for a growing number of reasons starting with something as simple as cost reduction as many small businesses do not have the necessary resources to spend on continually developing and maintaining in-house IT systems.
Businesses that have already adopted cloud services gained competitive as they are able to work more flexibly than those who do not and the cloud supports their business growth through innovative, cost efficient solutions. Paul Bryce, business development director at Node4, stated “The benefits of cloud computing are extensive and, for the first time ever, businesses are able to compete in a level playing field.” He explained that small businesses that use cloud computing technologies can elevate themselves to compete more equally with larger companies.
Businesses adopt cloud technologies to boost the efficiency and productivity of a workforce thanks to the scalable and flexible nature of cloud computing. In a recent study by Netmetix, 58% of businesses agree that cloud computing has given them better control of their data. Moreover, 72% of organisations that have implemented a private cloud server found that they had improved end-user experience. The article continued; “We have found that cloud creates a more productive and engaging working environment for employees, leading to higher levels of motivation and performance.”
Cloud computing allows users to work on a range of devices, for example smartphones and tablets, by delivering cloud services such as file and document sharing, email or even a full hosted desktop environment which can contain all the data and applications that you use on a daily basis.
With wide range of remote devices and applications to choose from, employees work from just about anywhere with an internet connection while having access to business data whenever needed. This is highly beneficial for users who are out of the office often and in need of their company data as they can freely access everything on their chosen device.
Businesses in the cloud may also have better security than those who rely on local security appliances and firewalls, as this is securely managed from a centralised datacentre by dedicated engineers. One of the biggest concerns raised by small businesses regarding the cloud is that of data security as obviously data is important and must be kept safe. According to Microsoft, cloud computing can offer higher security than on-premise IT because the infrastructure is less susceptible to Malware and Trojan viruses meaning that business data is more safe in the cloud.
In the UK, most datacentres now meet stringent data security standards such as ISO-27001. These standards insure that all the data stored on the servers is secure and that the datacentre has correct protocols against the distribution of data without authority as well as the required hardware to keep the data safe.
However, accidents do happen and small businesses need to be prepared for when they come along; cloud computing is often adopted by smaller companies as a disaster recovery solution. By placing the security into the hands of the datacentre, companies can work on their own business objectives and strategies. Small businesses can trust in the cloud to provide an unprecedented amount of security for a price that would please even tighter business budgets.
Cloud services are increasing in demand all the time. Last year alone, cloud adoption grew by 5%, raising the estimated percentage of businesses that have adopted the cloud from 70% in the first quarter of 2013 to 75% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Companies have spent less on their own IT systems, shifting over to cloud technologies instead to cut cost, which is important for small businesses especially those just starting out. By implementing a cloud service, companies don’t need to spend money on an in-house infrastructure or a dedicated team of technicians to manage and support the services and software side of the system. This can also reduce the carbon footprint of the business.
Businesses looking at innovative, cost efficient methods of growing can no longer underestimate the power of how cloud services can support adapting business to the ever changing demands of its customers. The cloud has already become critical for a number of businesses in realising potential growth. One thing is for sure now, businesses that are holding back and are reluctant to take a closer look at the cloud, anyways inevitable changes, risk losing market share.
Are you running an SME? Is your business already using cloud applications? Do you find the cloud time saving and productivity boosting? We invite you to comment on our blog below.