Running a small business can be tough, dealing with small margins and challenging larger competitors. The good news there are plenty of opportunities out there to operate more efficiently and at lower costs than the larger players; one of these areas of opportunity is moving your IT operations to cloud based services. But what are cloud services? And how do they benefit a small business? We’ll explain.
What are cloud services?
Cloud services, put simply are software applications, data and file storage drives that are saved off site in a managed cloud. Traditionally organisations would save all of their work files, software programs and customer records locally on computers or in a data storage room where backup files are saved.
With cloud computing all of your business information is stored offsite, usually at a large storage centre managed as part of a service offered by a management company. The biggest names in tech; Amazon, Google and Microsoft all offer cloud services, but there are also hundreds of smaller provides able to offer more specialist services depending on your needs.
Top advantages of cloud services for small businesses
By moving your IT systems to Cloud services you can open your business up to potential benefits that can help you grow successfully. Here are the key areas the cloud can benefit your small business.
Data security poses one of the greatest risks to a small business. With limited time and expertise internally to mitigate risk, and ever more sophisticated attackers out there; the benefit of a cloud provider is you’re utilising the security systems they’ll have in place to protect you and your customers.
Instead of paying up-front for expensive hardware in your office, a cloud provider will normally charge a subscription fee for data space you need. And as your business changes you can adjust how much storage is required, rather than replace old hardware that’s now no longer fit for purpose.
Stay up to date with technology
It’s frustrating when a software package your business relies on either needs upgrading or falls out of compatibility with other systems. With cloud-based software and services, updates happen automatically. Plus, integration options with other programs are more possible with services offering a more holistic landscape.
Not only will your IT operations benefit from efficiency improvements by choosing the cloud, your employees will see the advantages too. Data sharing and version control is made far easier; allowing staff to collaborate and complete tasks quicker.
5 Ways to Use the Cloud in Your Small Business
Now that you’ve learnt the benefits cloud can bring to your business, just how can you utilise it in practical ways within your IT operation? The simplest way is to break down how your businesses uses IT into separate parts….
Cloud file storage
As mentioned above, storing files and business data in a cloud-based storage will save on expensive hardware costs, but you also have far more flexibility than conventional hardware. Additional storage can be switched on or off when required plus you have the reassurance your data is stored and managed safely. With cloud storage, small businesses can be in control of their data without being bogged down in the detail and complexities of managing its security.
Applications and Software
In the modern world of cloud-based applications, updates are automatic and providers constantly make improvements making processes more efficient and customer engagements easier.
Mobile office working
As working patterns progressively change to a more remote approach, businesses need to offer working solutions that enable their staff to work efficiently from home. By moving systems and applications to the cloud your business can support staff working remotely, and attract new talent from further afield.
With your documents saved on the cloud, collaboration with stakeholders and service providers is easy, simply determine what needs sharing and who can edit. File sharing can happen without the risk of exposing other areas of your operation you don’t want to share.
Within any modern expansion plan, connecting existing data to new applications will feature in discussions. That’s where cloud services offer the advantage of flexible integration allowing you to expand quickly and adapt to new systems. Strategic growth
Moving to the cloud? What small businesses should know
For small businesses looking to move their operations to the cloud our first recommendation is to plan your transition through a cloud strategy. Here you can assess your businesses readiness by asking questions like security implications, which processes need changing to a cloud-based application or those that may be on the cloud already…
Taking these steps and making the right decisions are crucial in shaping your businesses future, fortunately Webol is here to help. We are experts in managed cloud services with access to a talent pool of cloud specialists. So, if you are looking to become a cloud-first business, contact us.