If you think the cloud is an expensive tool just for big businesses, it’s time to think again. There are many ways that it can benefit small companies, even providing them with the same technologies enjoyed by their bigger competitors. And with packages starting at less than £40 a month (incl. VAT), it certainly isn’t expensive. So, here’s how the cloud can help SMBs.
Applications that you host in the cloud can be accessed by you, or any employees you authorise, from any device connected to the internet. This can be anything from Microsoft 365 to software which has been specially created for your company. With these apps hosted in the cloud, your employees can work from home or stay connected while working in the field.
The cloud also enables you to offer more flexible working hours, helping you recruit and retain better staff; you can reduce office space, as fewer people need to be on-site; you can ensure field employees, like the sales team, always have the most up-to-date information about product availability; and you can monitor the progress of employees carrying out jobs like deliveries or home repairs, ensuring that customers are informed of pending arrivals or delays.
Cloud-based software means your company isn’t restricted to employing team members who live within travelling distance of your premises. For many roles, cloud access means you can cast a much wider net and easily take on freelance workers to undertake short term projects.
What’s more, the teams you put together can collaborate much more effectively. You can store all your data in a centralised cloud repository, making it accessible to those who need it. Those individuals can then video conference, share synced files and work on projects using the latest team working apps.
The cheaper way to compute
Server technology is expensive and companies that need to invest in servers to run their operations are faced with capital expenditure on hardware, power costs, IT staffing costs and, for larger data centres, overheads associated with the actual premises.
By migrating computing workloads to the cloud, companies can eradicate many of those expenses. The hardware and power are provided by the hosting provider, as is much of the IT management, and there is no need for an in-house data centre. Indeed, even proprietary software licences can be less expensive when provided by your cloud host.
What’s more, the cloud also makes it far easier, quicker and much less expensive to scale up. Using in-house technology, a business would need to purchase a new server, configure it and then install the software before it could be used. This would be an expensive option that would take several days to become operational – not ideal if your company urgently needs more IT resources.
With the cloud, scaling up can be done at the press of a button. Quite simply, you can have all the additional resources you need, instantaneously, without the need for new hardware or configuration. Software installation would only be required if you wanted to use a new app. What’s more, any additional resources you needed above those included in your cloud package are only charged for on a pay as you go basis. So when you no longer need them, you stop paying for them; something you can’t do with a brand new server that you only need for occasional spikes in demand.
Advanced technology at your fingertips
It’s not just additional computing resources that you can have at the click of the button, with the cloud you can also have access to the latest technologies. The demand for cloud apps is such that there are applications of all kinds available, many of them open-source and free to use. What’s more, as they are designed especially for cloud environments, they can be installed in a single click.
This means digital transformation technologies, like artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, communications platforms and chatbots, once the reserve of bigger competitors, can be affordably deployed by all companies, putting smaller businesses on an equal footing.
With these technologies, SMBs can have access to data-driven insights that improve operations, cut costs and find opportunities in the marketplace. They can help personalise communications, recommend products, speed up delivery routes and even analyse your cloud usage to find ways of minimising use. The potential is enormous and there is a multitude of businesses that can benefit from it.
Security and disaster recovery
Security is an issue for all small companies, many of which lack the in-house expertise and resources to keep their systems and data safe. A public cloud network, on the other hand, is highly secure and strongly protected. Cloud providers need to comply with strict regulations to protect customers and employ a wide range of sophisticated security tools, such as next-gen firewalls, intrusion prevention apps and malware scanners, to keep their environments safe.
In addition, the cloud is also the ideal place to back up your server. Cloud-based backups are stored at geographically different datacentres to your cloud server, they are checked for integrity and encrypted for security. What’s more, you can schedule them to take place automatically at the frequencies your business requires.
Should your data be lost for any reason, a cloud-based backup solution can be a critical component of your disaster recovery plan, helping you to restore your system quickly. And with 24/7 technical support from your service provider, even companies lacking internal expertise can achieve it without hassle.
Digital transformation is reshaping the business landscape and cloud technology is one of its most important elements. Unfortunately, many small businesses consider the cloud to be something only available to larger businesses – they perceive it as expensive and technologically complex. This, however, is not necessarily the case. Cloud hosting packages are affordable, many of the applications are designed to be easy to use and the benefits of using them are considerable.
For more information visit our Cloud Hosting page.