Cloud Computing For Small Businesses: What You Need To Know

Post written by Shawn Freeman

Cloud computing has existed since the dawn of the internet, but only in recent years has it become a household term. Anyone who has touched a computer, tablet or smartphone over the last decade is regularly using cloud services.

Whenever we scroll through Facebook or Twitter, watch streaming videos, access an online email service like Gmail or Outlook, or use the apps on our phones, we are accessing data stored on the cloud. The general public has been quicker to adopt cloud services than the business world, mostly because the data that companies use to run and grow their businesses is highly sensitive.

It’s taken a while for companies to transition from in-house data and systems management to cloud computing, but that too is changing. In 2017, Forrester Research predicted that 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform by the end of 2018. In addition, the global public cloud market will be valued at $178 billion and the market will only continue to grow. Cloud computing is the wave the of future, and it seems the future is already here.

Businesses are utilizing cloud services at an increasing rate for obvious reasons.

Secure and affordable

• Improves efficiency

• Provides customization based on your business needs

4 Reasons Small Businesses Should Migrate to the Cloud

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As technology evolves, small business owners need to stay up to date with technological trends that can help improve how their businesses operate. As businesses grow, their technology will need to improve to streamline processes and maximize potential. Most small businesses, however, simply do not have the budget for enterprise software. This is where the cloud comes in. The cloud can help fill in the gap as small businesses try to scale.

You may have heard of the “cloud,” but what is it really? The cloud is not a physical object, but rather (like the internet) is a network of servers, each with its own particular function. Cloud computing allows owners the ability to utilize a broad set of tools such as storage, processing, and analytics, while keeping costs low.

Cloud services provide several benefits to any business:
1. Inexpensive

Cloud services are generally easier and cheaper to use than their traditional hard-wired enterprise counterparts. Businesses are now able to do more with less by maximizing the power of the internet. At the end of the day, savings can come in the form of less expensive equipment (and in turn less installation and maintenance costs), lower power usage, and easier upgrades.
2. Efficiency

Cloud services allow small businesses to operate more efficiently by allowing users to collaborate more easily. The cloud provides the flexibility to save and access various files from any device in any place at any time. Multiple users can edit a document and review revisions. Employers can better manage employees as they can limit what employees have access to and monitor progress on assignments.
3. Integration

Arguably the best part of utilizing cloud services is the ability to integrate it with other cloud-based providers. That means that information from one cloud service can theoretically output to other cloud services. For example, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform can integrate with an accounting platform that can then integrate with a payroll platform. Greater integration allows small business owners the freedom to focus on other areas of their business.
4. Security

Because information is stored in the cloud and not on-site at the location of the business, there is less risk if something happens at the location of the business. Most cloud services offer encryption and other cybersecurity options as part of their business solutions. In addition, the ability to back-up data and store it virtually protects businesses in the event of a power surge, natural disaster, or other unforeseen catastrophe.

Here are some of the different ways you can transition to the cloud:

Design: Adobe Creative Cloud
Office Productivity: Google Apps, Microsoft Online
Storage: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box
Accounting: Intuit Quickbooks, Xero, NetSuite
Infrastructure: Amazon Web Services***