Do you know what cloud computing is and how it can help you run and grow your business? If you’re like most small business owners, you’re already using cloud services—maybe without even knowing it. But are you aware of all the ways the cloud can power up your business?
Essentially, cloud computing means that instead of storing data on hard drives in your computer or on servers in your office, your data is stored and managed on the Internet and accessed online. Businesses often use the cloud to store and share data, or to access software (this is called “software as a service,” or SaaS).
Here’s a closer look at 10 ways cloud computing can benefit your business.
Installing new software, keeping abreast of security issues, installing patches and upgrading to new versions of software is a full-time job. However, many small businesses can’t afford an in-house IT specialist, so they outsource to IT consultants who are busy and not always able to stay on top of the business’s IT needs. Other businesses rely on an “involuntary” IT person such as the company’s office manager. Either approach costs time, money and hassle and can even put your business at risk. If your business doesn’t have an IT specialist on staff, using cloud-based software makes your life a lot easier. All of these updates are handled automatically off-site by the cloud services provider, which has a full staff of IT experts to provide up-to-the-minute technology. Even if your business does have IT specialists on staff, outsourcing to a cloud services provider enables your IT employees to spend less time on nuts-and-bolts maintenance issues and more time developing innovative ideas to grow your business.
It seems that every day, we read about data breaches affecting huge corporations, such as Target, Home Depot and Sony. If such big companies aren’t immune to malware, hackers and viruses, you can imagine how vulnerable your small business is. And while large companies can afford the fines and lawsuits associated with a data breach, such costs will put the typical entrepreneur out of business. Don’t assume you’re safe because no one would bother to hack your business data. In reality, because small businesses are typically less protected from online threats, they are actually the preferred targets of online hackers. Reputable cloud services providers can help by offering far better security than the average small business owner can provide. Storing your data in the cloud ensures it is protected by experts whose job is to stay up-to-date on the latest security threats.
Natural disasters, theft or accidents can destroy your business’s critical data if it’s stored solely on hard drives or in-office servers. In recent years, extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes and blizzards have put many small companies out of business—at least temporarily. Between 40 and 60 percent of small businesses affected by a disaster never re-open their doors, according to FEMA statistics. Cloud storage and backup services can store continuously updated copies of your business data and applications online, so they’re always safe from disaster and can be restored after an incident. Automated backup removes the risk of human error during the backup process, creating greater security. In addition, many cloud backup solutions offer the ability to save multiple versions of a document automatically, so you can easily go back to access earlier versions. Of course, you don’t need your business to be decimated by an earthquake to see the value of cloud backup solutions. If your in-office server goes down, or if a heavy snowfall unexpectedly keeps you and your employees from getting to the office, cloud services can ensure your business doesn’t miss a beat. You and your staff can keep working using cloud services to keep your business up and running.
Working remotely is a preferred perk for many employees these days. And, of course, busy small business owners often end up burning the midnight oil at home. When you use cloud services, you don’t have to email yourself files for later, or remember to bring a thumb drive home. Instead, you and your team can access the latest versions of your documents and data from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Cloud services are a game-changer for salespeople and others who frequently travel on business to visit clients and prospects in person. Never again will you have to worry about leaving the latest version of a presentation, contract or proposal behind at your office.
Download the full eguide to view the full list of benefits and learn more about cloud computing.