Cloud computing is here to stay! A recent report by Gartner reveals that the global cloud revenue is expected to grow by 17.3 percent this year. Nearly 62 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises are already using cloud computing and 33 percent are planning to invest in this technology.
For small businesses, the cloud is more than a ‘nice-to-have’ feature. The technology can give small ventures a serious competitive advantage, thereby leveling the playing field for them.
If you own a small business, read on to learn how this disruptive technology can empower you to compete with your larger counterparts.
- Offers Superior Flexibility
Cloud computing offers unmatched flexibility, allowing you and your staff to manage business operations at any time of the day and from any location using web-enabled devices. Several startups and small organizations are including ‘bring your own device (BYOD)’ policy, giving employees the option of working in and out of the workplace.
Further, cloud-based office platforms, such as Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 offer enhanced support for projects that demand an increased level of collaboration between employees.
Moving to cloud-based services can reduce your dependence on IT professionals. Since cloud services get updated automatically, you do not have to bother about managing software updates. That way you can focus on big-picture projects, such as data analysis and revenue-generating activities like offering personalized customer service and superior customer experience.
For instance, small e-commerce businesses can use cloud services on their website or app to enable customers to sign up for a mailing list or pay with Bitcoins. Further, they can add customer ratings, configurators, and recommendation engines that offer product suggestions to prospective customers. Thus, cloud-based services can help you add functionality to your site, empowering you to get ahead of your competitors.
- Ensures Scalability of IT Infrastructure
According to a research report presented by IDC, businesses spend nearly 80 percent of their annual IT budget just to keep their systems running. Scalable cloud infrastructure allows you to easily upscale or downscale your IT requirements as per your business needs. For instance, the cloud allows you to increase your existing resources to accommodate the increasing business requirements or changes. Thus, you do not have to make expensive changes to your existing IT systems.
Cloud-based infrastructure is efficient, responsive to demand, and can be rapidly deployed, accelerating the time to value. For instance, if you own an e-commerce venture, your traditional server may experience unpredictable server loads, cutting off your potential customers when most needed. With a scalable cloud-based system, the failover system mechanism can increase the reliability and availability of the IT resources.
- Enables You to Keep a Tight Grip on Big Data
IDC predicts that the size of the global datasphere to be 163 zettabytes by 2025. The new age of IoT connectivity is causing organizations to drown in this enormous sea of data.
Businesses have always strived to derive insights from this available information in order to make smart and fact-based decisions. Further, deriving value from data helps firms have a distinct advantage over their competitors.
Until now, only large organizations were leading the way in leveraging big data. However, an increasing number of small businesses are shifting their focus to user-friendly and cost-effective data analytics interfaces, enabling them to generate game-changing insights.
Further, open-source big data tools, namely Hadoop, Cassandra, and HPCC are empowering small businesses to manage heavy data lifting. Small businesses are also hiring experts in the field of cloud computing to boost their capacity for aggregating and analyzing the disparate volumes of information available to them.
Multiple cloud services can be integrated together to mine data and build new applications and insights related to customer behavior, preferences, and buying trends. For instance, tweets from customers can be parsed using a sentiment analysis engine and clubbed with coupon services or discounts to engage a firm’s target audience on Twitter.
Specialized cloud providers can mine data from a firm’s on-premise system and combine it with public and proprietary data sources to general business insights. In the absence of cloud-based platforms, achieving this feat would have been impossible for small businesses.
Thus, the inherent agility of small businesses and innovative cloud-based solutions are enabling small firms to get a firm grip on big data.
- Safeguards Business Data
Information security is one of the major challenges for small businesses. Recent cybersecurity statistics by Verizon reveal that small businesses account for nearly 58 percent of data breaches.
Whether the data is big or small, the need to secure sensitive information exists in all firms. Nothing can risk your competitive edge like compromised financial data, proprietary information, and employee and customer data. Cloud-based data storage platforms are safe and reliable and can protect your data from security breaches. Hybrid systems ensure timely backup of your data to the cloud, getting you back into business even when your server has crashed.
- Boosts Your Bottomline
Purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading IT infrastructure is one of the major capital expenditures borne by businesses. Further, the ongoing costs pertaining to security measures, software updates, computer repair, and general maintenance are unavoidable. Not to forget, the aging infrastructure that brings a lot of hidden costs owing to performance degradation, rising maintenance costs, and energy inefficiencies. All these factors end up affecting the firm’s bottomline.
With cloud-based applications and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) platforms like Amazon EC2, Oracle Public Cloud, and NetSuite, small businesses do not have to incur these expenditures, thereby improving their cash flow. Also, there are no annual software license renewals or hardware maintenance costs. You only pay for the services you use, averting the need to pay for redundant systems.
Lastly, since all the data is stored in the cloud, you have improved document control and reduced downtime in case of hardware failure.
The cloud computing technology is enabling small businesses to deliver a maximum measurable return on investment, allowing them to win in competitive environments. No wonder, this technology is soaring in popularity among small businesses that aim at scaling their venture in the cut-throat business environment.
Regardless of your industry domain, cloud computing is the technology that you should invest in to take your business to the next level.
Tim Ferguson is a writer and editor of Right Mix Marketing blog. He enjoys writing about SEO, content marketing, online reputation management, social media, AI and Big Data. When he is not writing and editing for Right Mix Marketing, he spends time on learning more about content marketing and getting better at it. You can follow him on Twitter at @RightMixMktg