The popularity of cloud computing grows year after year. It was inevitable it would impact small businesses as more people embrace the technology. There are both positives and negatives with any new trend. Figuring out how the shift impacts your business is a vital part of your company’s growth.
Recently, Gartner released a forecast of public cloud end-user spending for the year and listed a predicted growth of 23% as technologies become more and more mainstream. It isn’t surprising cloud computing would trickle down to even solopreneur ventures. Cloud computer providers now cater to both enterprises and mom and pop shops.
Some of the impact on small businesses includes easier access to data anywhere the owner or staff might travel. Instant access in a digital marketplace means you can serve your customers better than ever before.
Expect to see big cloud computing developments in 2022 and beyond that you may not have thought of. These are the potential pros of cloud computing for your organization.
1. Improve Collaboration
No matter what type of business you run, better collaboration with employees and clients is a plus. With cloud computing, you can put projects on the internet and allow contractors to access the next phase and complete their task. Employees can see what others have done on the to-do list and check off the next item.
You can also share progress with clients, allow them to add their feedback and make changes on the fly. You’ll avoid a situation where the small details fall through the cracks. Of course, how cloud computing helps your business collaborate better depends upon your business model.
For companies serving other businesses, it might simply be via project management tools. For a local HVAC company, cloud computing might help technicians in the field coordinate with the sales office for a seamless customer experience or inventory control.
2. Save Money
Putting your information on the cloud may save you money in a variety of ways. In a study of government cloud computing, researchers found cloud-first agencies saved $291 million collectively. While you might have a smaller budget than a government agency, you can still save money by ramping up productivity and reducing the overhead of your IT department.
Most cloud providers offer complete management solutions. You won’t need to pay a salary and benefits to multiple IT people to keep your machines running. The fees you pay for the cloud service are typically much less than the cost of hiring a full-time employee.
As cloud computing has become more mainstream, costs have come down to affordable levels for smaller brands. You’ll gain more recent software updates and faster equipment for a lower overall cost.
3. Scale Easily
Is your business in growth mode? One of the major advantages of cloud computing is the ability to scale up or down based on how many new customers sign up with you. As your business grows, you simply ask your provider for more storage space. You can add software, remove features and change things with a few clicks of a mouse.
If you’ve ever predicted how many resources your company might need and fallen short, you know how expensive constantly investing in new equipment is. Cloud solutions give you an opportunity to miscalculate, shoot past growth predictions and still keep everything running smoothly.
You can also add new software that may allow your team to be more predictive and grow even faster. Run reports to see if more inventory or hiring additional staff is feasible. All the data of your company is at your fingertips and the machine can analyze it for you.
4. Secure Your Data
At some point in the life of every computer, a crash occurs. It’s inevitable, but if you have backups it isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, most business owners experience data loss at some point because their backup systems failed or they forgot to download the files. Losing client files or past work can be a true hardship for smaller brands.
With cloud computing, you gain the advantages of an outside company keeping backups for you. While it’s always a smart idea to keep your own copy, if you lose all your files, you can rest assured your server has a copy and probably several others in their systems. Most cloud providers backup on and off-site.
You can even set your cloud servers to back up to an outside source, such as Google Drive, GitHub or DropBox. The more copies you have, the less chance of losing your proprietary data you need to keep running efficiently.
5. Gain Security
According to a study by the University of Maryland, cybercriminals attempt hacks every 39 seconds. The constant drum of security breaches is troubling for all business owners. You want your customers’ trust, and they need to know you’ll protect their sensitive personal information.
Cloud computing makes small businesses more secure. You aren’t just relying on some inexpensive software, but you have the full security measures a large cloud provider puts in place.
You also may forget to update software or scan for viruses regularly. After all, you’re busy running your company. However, a cloud computing firm typically has security experts on staff watching for potential threats and fixing weaknesses before they become a problem.
While breaches can happen to any company, you’ll gain the advantage of better software and a well-apprised team of security experts. The antivirus software will be the top of the line your provider can afford and may be something out of your price range when buying software on your own.
6. Reduce Downtime
Your business website and online ordering or project quote request systems can make or break your business. Customers expect access 24/7 in this highly competitive digital marketplace. For example, the person who works second shift and gets off at 11 p.m. wants to pull up your site and request a quote for a certain day.
When you use your own servers, you run the risk of outdated equipment and power failures. Most cloud computing companies have backup generators and even servers in various locations to pick up the slack should an outage occur.
People will be able to reach your company online around the clock. You’ll present a consistent, reliable presence helping secure your trustworthiness. No more downtime that causes lost sales and frustrated clients.
7. Watch for Inflexibility
One negative to cloud computing can be companies using software platforms not adopted by other cloud providers. Once you get your data on a particular system, it can be difficult to convert it to a different software language.
Ask questions about what options are available from the provider you choose. Ask the same questions of five or six similar providers to ensure you could easily move between them or even back to your own servers if needed.
The last thing you want is to get tied into a provider who suddenly raises prices beyond what you can afford or has technical issues you’re trapped dealing with. Spend time understanding the common software used in your industry and if it can be moved easily between cloud servers.
8. Choose Public Clouds
While a private cloud server might sound like an excellent idea, the costs can be prohibitive for small and medium businesses. Around 41% of SMBs choose public cloud services to better fit their smaller budgets and less demanding workloads.
With more small businesses coming on board, expect more cloud providers to offer shared solutions for clients on a budget. You don’t need as much space as a Fortune 500 company, so you shouldn’t have to pay the same rates they do.
9. Hop on the AI Train
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more prevalent in business. From machines that talk to your customers for you to data solutions providing automatic reporting and insights, AI is the wave of the future.
With cloud computing, you have access to the latest computer systems and AI technology. You can implement software that pulls from your inventory to let customers know if you have something in stock or when it will arrive.
It’s impossible to look at all the scenarios benefiting small businesses implementing AI in their model, but it puts you ahead of competitors that don’t use the latest advancements.
10. Become More Agile
Agility is a buzzword for most small businesses today. The better you adapt to rapidly changing technology, the more successful your business will be. With cloud computing, you can shift to new software, hire workers half a world away, implement new processes and run reports to see where your bottlenecks are.
It’s much quicker to rely on a cloud computing application than to implement your own servers, get them running, hire IT people, train those workers and update everything. By using cloud computing, your focus moves to the creative side of business growth.
Embrace the IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) exists almost exclusively on the cloud. Any device people use to connect adds to the massive amounts of data. However, the advantage to small businesses is that you can tap into the information and use it to market to your target audience. You can also offer your own IoT solutions to make life easier on your buyers.