Mon, November 16, 2015

Why Small Businesses Should Consider the Cloud

For a small business, moving all or even part of your technology systems into the cloud might feel like a surrender of control. Having all of your data and IT infrastructure visible on-site can be a source of comfort, but as your business grows, the up-keep of this type of IT infrastructure can become burdensome and even unsustainable for many. Regardless of your industry, adding or upgrading your in-house technology requires more up-front hardware and software purchases, more on-going maintenance and support needs, and more manpower to execute on any or all of these initiatives. This is a predicament that many small business owners are currently facing. 

Making a Case for the Cloud

Cloud computing is undoubtedly one of the defining technological tools shaping the way that modern businesses operate. Even if you don’t quite understand it, the benefits of the cloud will resonate loudly with any small- to mid-sized business executive.

Minimized Costs: Whether you have the latest high-tech PC or a simple home desktop, cloud-based server infrastructures enable mass-scale computing power on any machine. Businesses can do more with less, resulting in lower costs for installations, upgrades and support, power usage and acquiring additional IT employees.

Mobilized Data: Users can access work-related files from their own personal devices at any place, any time. In this increasingly mobile world, business owners and employees no longer have to worry about all their files being stuck on a single machine at the office. For a new or small business, this flexibility and nimbleness is key to adapting and growing strategically while keeping the workforce electronically centralized. Trying to accomplish this same type of mobilization without using pre-existing cloud computing tools is a hefty undertaking for even the most tech savvy company.

Real-time Collaboration: With the high visibility and mobility of shared data, files and software, streamlined collaboration is just one byproduct of cloud computing. Projects can be shared and worked on simultaneously in real-time, eliminating the need for time-consuming back and forth via email. Also, employees don’t need to store or secure critical data and working files (like contracts, field notes and work orders) on their local machines, but they can still access everything remotely from virtually any laptop. For employers adhering to certain electronic compliance standards, company data can be kept more secure since it is all stored in one location, and not spread across multiple machines.

Enhanced Backup and Security: A recent Aberdeen Group study found that businesses using the cloud were able to resolve security issues in an average of 2.1 hours, nearly four times faster than the 8 hours required for businesses not operating out of the cloud. The cloud backs up data off-site which can decrease the probability of hackers, viruses, and other local security issues. Some more advanced cloud services will even backup an entire organization’s network off-site, not just files. Thousands of laptops are lost or stolen each year in airports alone, which would have serious ramifications if crucial data was stored on those local machines. Cloud data remains ever-accessible to users, not thieves.

Unlimited Storage: Virtually limitless, businesses utilizing cloud storage have never-ending capacity for storing files, documents, software, applications or whatever else they wish to preserve. For a growing business, the potential to store everything without additional hardware is highly valuable.

Access to the Latest and Greatest: In comparison to standard data storage and computing technologies, the cloud is being developed much faster. Cloud users can enjoy instant access to the most up-to-date technologies without having to invest in the latest gadgets.

Research suggests that business owners who haven’t already adopted cloud technology are at risk of falling behind, or worse, creating a perception of an unreliable and inefficient organization. In the next five years, cloud computing will become the norm. According to a 2015 article by Forbes, 69% of enterprises expect to make moderate-to-heavy cloud investments over the next three years.

If you are still contemplating moving towards cloud-based IT or voice solutions, consider attending our upcoming webinar, ReThinking IT. There are many different types of customizable service levels and deployment options available. Contact Centrality to learn more about our many cloud products offered.