Your business needs to be on the cloud!
What is Cloud Computing?
Traditionally, computing took place locally meaning that you either had a Desktop PC that ran your applications and saved your files and folders to a hard drive. That, or you would have your own dedicated local server which dealt with your application and data needs all within your building.
Where Cloud computing differs is that instead of investing in local data solutions. You ‘outsource’ your data storage and access needs to data centres all across the globe which can be accessed via the internet. If you’re not familiar with cloud computing you’ve probably been using it already without realising it, from watching YouTube videos to posting tweets and checking your bank balance online; all of this relies on the cloud.
The more technical term for cloud computing is Infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Think of it as renting instead of buying outright. You rent the servers from cloud computing providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure instead of buying your own in-house hardware.
Why Cloud Computing?
Drive Down costs
The benefits of moving your business onto the cloud are myriad and compelling. One of the biggest is simply cost. Many businesses which could not have been born and flourished in the past now exist thanks to cloud computing. From giants like Facebook to a one woman band selling gift baskets using Instagram to promote her product, and using Amazon to take orders. It has greatly reduced the entry costs into many industries.
No longer do you need to worry about a complicated IT project and expensive hardware to meet your needs. You can simply use a pay as you go subscription model to use the cloud infrastructure you need which will be much easier on your bottom line. Reducing your initial capital expenditure is always a positive.
Inherent to cloud computing is the assumption that you use what you need when you need it. So in times when you need more resources you can get them without having to spend a lot of money on a new server. This is especially useful if you see a peak in demand for a period but things die down again but you’ve lain down the sunk costs for extra hardware that is now underutilised and therefore unproductive costing you money.
With the cloud model the time constraint and the cost constraint on meeting new demand are of orders of magnitude smaller than going down the traditional route of doing it all yourself. The ability to scale up and scale down your business is a huge feather in the cap of the cloud model and one of the primary reasons so many businesses have adopted it.
Keeping up to date is easy
With local servers the responsibility of keeping track of updates and implementing them is on you. On the cloud the responsibility of rolling out updates including security updates is on your suppliers. It’s their job and they’ll be responsible for sorting out any bugs that may emerge too. This frees you up to focus on your area of expertise, your business.
Document control & collaboration
When you can share, access and edit documents with all members of your team all the time it makes collaborating much easier. For example, we produced a 6,000+ word guide to GDPR for small businesses you can find here. It was a team effort and went through many revisions which would not have been possible without cloud computing. By using the cloud, you can multiply the brainpower you apply to work whether its producing an air tight proposal for a project to drawing up a contract that ensures you keep as many advantages as possible.
The cloud also enables you to maintain document control without lifting a finger. You no longer need to upload the most recent version of a document. It’s all saved automatically as soon as someone makes an edit and this is available to whoever wants it instantly.
Most small businesses can’t really afford a complete in-house disaster recovery protocol. They just don’t have the cash on hand to pay for it like larger businesses can. But with the cloud you can take advantage of the economies of scale of the likes of Google and Amazon and benefit from their disaster recovery infrastructure for a fraction of the cost. Now even the smallest of businesses can back up all their sensitive data to the cloud without the large up-front cost.
Think of it this way, what was once only available to royalty such as easily accessible water is now available to the common man. Likewise, what once was only available to giant multinationals is now available to a sole trader in data backup and recovery via the cloud.
Work from anywhere!
All you need is an internet connection and you can get to work. This makes working on the commute or working remotely possible. This added flexibility can have added benefits of bringing in people who may have everything you want but location would have previously ruled them out as a potential hire.
We have experienced the benefits of this ourselves with developing RealtimeCRM. Many of our developers work remotely from Paris to Lincolnshire, without the cloud our team would not be possible. Cloud based tools like Slack mean we stay in constant communication and can share ideas as well as teasing Star Wars to those who haven’t seen it yet just as easily as we would if we were in the office.
We wouldn’t be here without it!
Finally, software as a service (SaaS) like our very own RealtimeCRM would not be possible without cloud computing. All of the features that we’ve built into the system from being able to enrich any Contacts you add into our system with more information we find online. To the Scheduler which updates in real time telling you whether one of your team have completed work or not from the customer’s site. It’s all due to the infrastructure of the cloud.
The global economy has been transformed by advances in IT. If your business doesn’t adapt and incorporate some of these advances you will be left in the past. We’ve seen for example, how accounting has been transformed by Xero which took accounting software from the desktop to the cloud. This simple step saw it leave older established competitors like Sage reeling who had to play catch up. In fact once Sage switched its model to the cloud they saw revenues grow by 7%.