Since its inception, cloud services has become an in-demand enterprise technology, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). According to a Gartner survey of 699 US-based SMBs in 2017, 62% are already using cloud computing, while 33% are planning to implement the technology.
However, because a particular technology is popular is not a good enough reason to adopt it. You should know that behind this popularity is bottom line growth. For instance according to a Vanson Bourne report called “The Business Impact of the Cloud,” cloud services led to a 20.06 % average improvement in time-to-market, an 18.8% average increase in process efficiency, and a 15.07% reduction in IT spending. All-in-all, it led to a 19.63% growth for companies.
Cloud services have opened opportunities for SMBs, giving them capabilities that were once only available to large companies with greater resources. Let's take a look at these benefits one by one.
Increased efficiency and great scalability
Cloud providers distribute their overhead and infrastructure costs across many businesses or clients. This makes enterprise-level IT resources available at a subscription-based model, lower than investing in on-premise hardware and off-the-shelf applications.
Cloud-based IT resources free the SMB from having to invest in physical space, hardware, and maintenance. Providers will house resources such as servers in their own data center and take responsibility to maintain, manage, and support those IT solutions and data management for the customer. These are all part of the subscription fee.
The scalability of these solutions also make them more cost-efficient and responsive to demand than the on-premise option. Unlike on-premise IT, there's no need to anticipate what you'll need and pay for services you'll not use. You can pay only for resources that you need and scale those resources when your requirements change. Increase or reduce the size of your data center as needed.
Cyberthreats are evolving quickly. For SMBs that normally cannot afford sophisticated security measures or a large IT workforce, this means a vulnerable system and database.
With cloud services, data and hardware will be housed with a managed services provider (MSP) or cloud provider. The IT systems you pay to use are protected with enterprise-level security measures and maintenance, such as round-the-clock IT staff.
MSPs backup your data in a redundant system of multiple servers so that there’s no single point of failure. A cloud services provider can become a single point of failure if, for instance, it is subdued by cyberattackers or goes out of business. Good MSPs utilize a multi-cloud strategy to nullify this risk.
Improved mobility and collaboration
SMB employees can work wherever and whenever as long as they're connected to the cloud. Whether it's by smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop, the cloud is a good option for SMBs or startups that want to eliminate brick-and-mortar costs. Remote working also enables a more inclusive working environment, for people with disabilities, for instance.
Cloud-based platforms also provide better support for group-based projects. Multiple users can work simultaneously across several devices on the same file or document as changes are updated in real time. Updated versions are available instantly to any member of the group. These “living documents” foster better production and collaboration. Members can continue to work with the group as they roam through a retail store updating prices and inventories, visit customers, do field work, or inspect a factory.
Cloud-based platforms and office systems have allowed dispersed groups such as departments and silos within departments to meet virtually to collaborate and share information. This creates better time-to-market, product development, and customer service.
With cloud services, the IT resources needed by a business have 99.99% uptime. And you’ll benefit from fail-over systems that protect servers from data loss or damage. This built-in system prevents downtime when a spike in network traffic occurs. This is helpful especially for e-commerce servers that experience peaks in popularity that can overload traditional servers.
Cloud providers enable “always connected” workers. As long as they are connected to the cloud, an organization can be productive 24/7/365. This also means cloud customers receive maintenance as well as system and software updates immediately. By contrast, off-the-shelf applications take time to roll out updates and new releases, sometimes taking months.
Problems and issues can also be addressed as soon as they are discovered. Cloud users receive 24/7/365 support from a team of experts in the cloud provider's facility or data center.
SMBs can avail of the computing power needed to crunch large volumes of data and analyze them for insights that drive better business. In the past, this was only available to large organizations with big budgets, but cloud providers bypass these costs and make big data computing available via subscription, with cloud-based platforms such as Hadoop and HPCC.
Cloud-based solutions are giving unprecedented advantages to SMBs and access to once unavailable technology to accelerate business. To learn more about how to leverage cloud technology, give Netquest a call today.
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