Introduction to Cloud Computing for Small Businesses
Whether it is a starting restaurant or a small mom-and-pop shop, any business can take advantage of cloud-based software. From point-of-sale (POS) systems to inventory management, cloud computing enables companies to automate repetitive processes and optimize data storage. By reviewing cloud computing for small business owners, founders can determine what solutions are best for their model.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a digital solution that stores companies' programs and information on remote servers rather than a hard drive. This enables users to access data from anywhere at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. In other words, employees can use their own computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to perform tasks. With cloud computing, businesses do not have to confine employees to their work computers and regular work hours. Instead, workers can perform their duties remotely from home.
Companies use cloud computing to entail various forms of cloud services.
- Cloud Storage is a service that automatically stores a copy of files virtually for easy access. This solution also enables employees to share and sync documents across various devices.
- Cloud Backup may sound similar to cloud storage, but it acts as a data recovery solution. This service backs up data in case a business undergoes a cyberattack, system crash, or other technical issues.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions rely on the internet to perform their functions. Common SaaS platforms include Google Apps and Office 365.
- Cloud Hosting is a solution that orchestrates various processes, including emails, application networks, phone systems, and data storage.
9 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Cloud Computing
As businesses continue to recognize the value of data, more and more will require the functionality of cloud computing. Owners should review the various benefits that this technology offers companies.
Flexibility and Scalability
With unlimited storage, businesses no longer have to restrict their expansion to the capacity of traditional documentation methods. Cloud computing has the ability to expand as the company grows and undertakes new demands. If departments utilize their cloud capacity, they can simply upgrade their storage plan.
Likewise, businesses can decrease their plan if they no longer require specific information. This level of flexibility enables organizations to adapt to evolving customer and market demands without worrying about lagging systems. Through expansion and consolidation, cloud computing enhances operational efficiency.
Losing critical data can significantly jeopardize a business's reputation and operations. A damaged reputation is one thing, but the company also has to invest time and money to recover the information. During the recovery process, the organization may have to shut down internal operations. Studies show that network downtime can cost businesses up to $10,000 an hour. By investing in cloud computing, companies can establish a reliable data recovery solution that doesn't require any downtime.
Legacy systems and other on-site solutions require IT employees to regularly update the software to resolve glitches. For large corporations, the updating process is more complex than simply restarting the machine. It could require an entire day to set everything up correctly.
On the other hand, providers host the cloud computing software off-site, so businesses do not have to worry about updates. By eliminating on-site updates, companies can reduce their IT maintenance cost by nearly 17%. Owners can use these funds to increase budgets elsewhere, such as integrating more automated tools.
Traditional legacy systems require various hardware to operate, which come with added implementation and maintenance costs. Over the years, this can significantly increase a company's operational expenses, restricting cash flow. With cloud computing technology, companies can free up cash flow by eliminating inefficient solutions. Most cloud solutions require low upfront costs and have affordable subscription plans to meet various businesses' needs.
Many businesses have still not reopened from the initial shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting their on-site production. Now more than ever, companies need the flexibility to allow employees to work from home on their personal devices.
Cloud solutions do not confine employees to their workstations or even within traditional work hours. As long as workers have a secure internet connection and a device, they can log in to the software. This ensures companies can sustain operations without opening their physical doors.
By streamlining data sharing between departments, teams can improve their collaboration and gain a holistic perspective. Cloud-based applications have several features that enable team members to upload, share, and edit files in real-time. Eliminating wait time between edits improves visibility into the project scope and progress.
Data Governance and Security
When data takes a digital form, businesses begin to worry about cybersecurity and compliance with industry regulations. However, sophisticated cloud-based solutions come with built-in firewalls that secure information and detect suspicious activity. Whenever the system recognizes emerging threats, it alerts IT managers so they can take immediate action. Some providers even offer 24/7 customer support in case users experience technical issues.
Adopting the newest technology improves not only operational efficiency but also enhances competitive edge. Businesses do not want to be left behind competitors taking advantage of cloud-computing systems, promoting productivity. New technology even improves the customer experience so companies can drive customer acquisition and retention.
By utilizing software, companies do not have to buy and go through reams of physical paper. Instead, they can virtually store data and print forms as needed, saving significant paper waste. Businesses can even fluctuate their cloud storage capacity based on their evolving needs, saving unnecessary costs.