X Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Businesses

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You will be hard-pressed today to find a business that doesn’t outsource to some degree. Many businesses will depend on outsourcing their IT support, IP telephony, web hosting, payroll, accounting, marketing and so forth.

Conducting business and commerce over the net is a trend of historic proportions and since the coronavirus lockdown, it has become the norm for more people than ever. In future, building a business means building it online.

The practical and financial advantages of sharing resources in the Cloud are compelling. Few enterprises will survive without embracing it.

1. Overheads

Cloud communication and collaboration tools allow your workforce to be located almost anywhere. That means better logistics and fewer overheads. In the future, many businesses will not need an HQ, office complex or car park. That means lower rent, lower rates, lower fuel bills, and savings in everything from desks and chairs to biros and the much sought-after toilet rolls.

Companies such as Amazon provide flexible warehouse space, so if your operations involve stock you may not need space for that either. Advantages of scale enable delivery companies to deliver faster and cheaper than you can. So why buy your own fleet?

The Cloud allows almost every business to upgrade its resources while cutting costs. If you have a business that can’t change, perhaps you are in the wrong business?

2. Talent retention

Provided that you have a laptop, smart-phone or another connected device, you can be at work from anywhere. Many advantages ensue from this but a key one is enabling employees to work while still fulfilling family responsibilities.

In our grandparents’ day, only one parent had to work. Today, living costs are higher so both must work. We don’t have large families to help and childminding is unaffordable or unavailable for many. The problem doesn’t only affect women and single parents – the birth rate is historically low.

Remote working therefore helps to prevent talent loss by allowing workers who, in the past, wouldn’t have been able to get into an office, to work from home.

3. Better collaboration

Teams equipped with better collaboration tools collaborate better. The Cloud tools available today are sophisticated far beyond anything most small businesses could afford any other way.

Colleagues can stay in touch even when they are on a train, abroad or at a client’s site. They can use phone, voice mail, email, instant messaging, video-calls or social media. They can share each other’s desktops and work on designs or documents together. Every form of collaboration is supported by Cloud enterprise software, together with workflow control and audit tools.

Document control is also solved. It actually takes longer to follow a paper trail around an office than to trace documents stored centrally in the Cloud. Instead of lots of people in one place and documents all over, your documents are in one place even when people are all over.

4. Competitive advantages

Enterprise management tools such as those above, together with data mining and market analytics, have previously only been available to Fortune 500 companies. By allowing everyone to access them, the Cloud is a leveller of opportunity. At last small companies can compete with large ones on equal terms.

Integrating resources can create new opportunities: one is automation. Many business operations are labour intensive but repetitive. Cloud software can not only organise and monitor your workflow, but it can often perform it – sending out automatic replies, raising purchases and invoices and issuing reports to key personnel. Cloud services can also help to automate physical production lines.

5. Lower risks

All the professional IT support you need is part of the package and you only pay for the software and services you use.

The digital age is marred by phishing, hacking and virus attacks. Even before those problems arose, relying on computers was a hazardous undertaking: hard disks crashed, backups wouldn’t restore, repairs could take weeks. Then to add to our concerns, the GDPR and a host of other regulations created severe penalties for handling data incorrectly.

Businesses can’t collect customer addresses or perform payment transactions without IT security. That gets harder all the time; you need antivirus and spam protection, network monitoring, access control, encryption, software patches and flawlessly reliable backups.

The more your operations are performed within Cloud services, the more risks you have divested to the experts that run those systems.

6. Scalability

Businesses based in the Cloud can rapidly upscale, downscale or redesign themselves, without a crippling capital investment.

Almost everyone agrees that the economy is about to undergo radical changes. Businesses that can rapidly scale themselves to changing markets will enjoy a crucial advantage over competitors that cannot. Agility is the leading reason given by big companies moving to the Cloud, but it is even more compelling for smaller businesses to follow.