This week’s series is focused on cloud computing and cloud apps.
To start off, I’m going to outline the eight key benefits of cloud computing for your Micro Business.
Benefits of Cloud Computing:
- Easy Implementation - The transfer of business information into the cloud is very straightforward. There is no need to install new hardware or software as everything is run by the cloud provider.
- Cost savings - Businesses that move to the cloud can make savings on many different levels – IT hardware and software expenditure is cut dramatically and fewer support resources are needed for IT maintenance. In one survey by analyst group IDC they estimated that business can instantly reduce their IT spend by approximately 54% by moving to a cloud based solution.
- Improved productivity - One of the key benefits of cloud computing is that you can access documents and emails whilst away from the office. If your business demands mobility and flexibility or you have staff keen to extend their use of home or remote working, the cloud could be a straightforward and affordable way of addressing these needs.
- Greater level of security - Cloud computing can be more secure than traditional IT. It’s all about economies of scale – many established cloud suppliers employ leading security experts, invest vast amounts of money into securing their applications and develop technology beyond the means of any small business. In addition, the risk of losing confidential data on a laptop or a USB stick is also diminished, as everything is stored in the cloud and not on your devices. (In 2010 a survey from CREDANT Technologies found that 55,843 mobile phones and 6,193 other devices, such as laptops, had been left in the back of London black cabs over the previous six months.)
- A more collaborative way of working - Using cloud computing applications, people can work more closely together, accessing and working in the same documents in real time – without the need for hundreds of emails with attachments. Improved knowledge sharing and communication encourages creativity amongst your employees which can help drive the business forward.
- Flexibility to scale up or scale down your business - Cloud based “pay as you go” style services allow you to easily increase your use of cloud services as your business grows, or decrease your spend if you need to temporarily scale down.
- Business resiliency & Continuity - Cloud computing providers increased resiliency and redundancy afforded by multiple data centres to ensure your information is always available. This means that you experience less downtime than when managing IT in-house, and any problems can be solved far quicker by being fixed centrally. IDC estimates that businesses operating in the cloud achieve 97% greater IT reliability.
- More choice: – In contrast to traditional IT models which can involve expensive software licenses and long lock-in contracts, the cloud model offers far more flexibility. You can switch provider far more easily and regularly in order to get the best experience and value for money. However, it is important to check with your cloud provider as to how you retrieve data from their cloud should you choose to switch in the future.
Over the rest of the week I’m going to review a small selection of the vast choice of cloud based business apps available. I’ve specifically tried to choose solutions that could work well in your micro business.
- Tuesday – Office Productivity Suites from Google, Microsoft and Zoho are put under the microscope.
- Wednesday - I compare three great CRM systems, Capsule CRM, Sugar CRM and Salesforce Small Business.
- Thursday – Possibly every micro business owners least favourite activity? Yet accounts and bookkeeping can be improved by using one of the four solutions reviewed – Kashflow, Xero, Freshbooks and Freeagent.
- Friday – I finish the week of cloud apps by detailing 3 outstanding apps which can help your micro-business run more effortlessly – SlideRocket, Shopify and OrderHarmony.
Today’s Micro Action
Think about all the business processes within your business, not only the ones you already have in place but also the ones you know you should have in place. Then think of the traditional software tools that have been available, look at their benefits and their costs.