A lot of small and medium-sized business owners have been inundated with information on how great the cloud is. However, the benefits of cloud computing are endlessly hyped up without any real detail on just how it’s possible to gain them. Increasing productivity and generating more profits sound great, but you have to understand exactly how you can use cloud technology to make it happen.
Otherwise you will end up buying a lot of powerful equipment without any idea of how to maximize it and your investment. Think about it another way. If you are currently walking or using public transportation to get around town, buying a car would help you save time. But if you don’t know how to drive, purchasing an automobile is nothing more than a luxury since you don’t know how to operate it and ultimately won’t benefit from using it.
And much like how cars gained acceptance with the general public during the 20th century, cloud technology will become more popular with small business owners during the next few years as they realize just how much easier it can make their life. A recent study from Emergent Research showed that 70 percent of small businesses will be using the cloud by 2020. To put that in perspective, only 37 percent of small businesses were using the technology in 2014.
This means cloud computing is not some IT trend that will go the way of AOL Instant Messenger or CD-ROMs, but something your business will eventually need to utilize. By hopping on the cloud bandwagon today you will not only get a leg up on your slow moving competition, but you will also be better placed to compete with bigger companies.
Want to know how this is possible? Here are four specific ways your business can use cloud computing to increase efficiency and be more productive.
1.) Create a truly mobile workforce with Cloud
A lot of business owners still find the idea of a mobile workforce to be unsettling as they believe it means people will stop showing up to the office. In reality, creating a mobile workforce doesn’t mean everyone will start working from home, it simply means your staff will have the power to work from any location at any time. Since you can use the cloud to access applications and files, this means a person doesn’t have to be at their desk to complete a task.
With Microsoft Office 365, you give your employees the freedom to use applications like Word, Excel and Powerpoint on any number of devices. Since files are accessible via Microsoft OneDrive, they no longer have to go to the office to get work done. This is extremely helpful during nights and weekends when it seems now, more than ever, urgent requests are being made by clients. Traditionally these requests would either require someone to go into the office to get them done or be pushed back until the next business day.
However, Microsoft Office 365 allows you to handle it right then and there. If you get asked for something like a project proposal, all you have to do is open up Word on your laptop, phone or tablet; grab the file; and start working on it from wherever you may be. You can then send it back in a matter of minutes. Not only does this make you look more professional in the eyes of customers but it also ensures projects don’t stall out or end up forgotten about.
2.) Access the best software available
For a lot of SMBs, buying new software isn’t high on their list of priorities. In many cases they see the benefits that the software can bring but can’t quite come to grips with spending that much money. And it’s understandable as well. Budgeting for that kind of capital expenditure is difficult to do without going into debt. Many software developers have realized this and released cloud-based applications that are available for a monthly fee as a response.
Act!, Quickbooks and Microsoft Office 365 are both traditional software programs that have been re-released as cloud-based applications. If your business hasn’t been able to afford this type of software in the past, utilizing the cloud-based version gives you the opportunity to finally do so and improve the way your employees work in the process. And since most of these programs are offered as part of monthly, pay-as-you-go subscriptions, budgeting for everything is simple.
3.) Keep working through the worst
It can be easy to get caught up in the here and now. A lot of SMBs are simply looking to make it to tomorrow and neglect putting proper protections in place to safeguard their data. This leaves them extremely vulnerable should a disaster such as a flood, fire, theft or employee sabotage strike their business. According to Symantec, 43 percent of companies that lose their data because of a disaster are never able to reopen. A further 29 percent end up ceasing operations within the first two years of the event.
By using cloud-based backups, your chances of surviving a disaster increase dramatically. Not only is data kept safe and secure on the cloud, but it can be accessed or restored in a matter of hours or even minutes in some cases. This means you can keep your company operating without lengthy service disruptions that can cripple a business.
4.) Get things done together
Anyone who has ever had to read through an endless string of emails about one document can attest to how difficult encouraging collaboration is. Traditionally only one person could edit a document at any given time and questions would need to be asked via email. This created a convoluted work process that rarely made things better. And that’s the whole point of collaboration. To improve your work.
Cloud computing has made collaboration simple and effective. Whether you use a software solution like Office 365 or a file server where all documents are hosted and accessible via the cloud, employees will be able to work together in ways you never thought possible. Multiple people can edit a document in real time, meaning you no longer have to take turns passing around a file. You also have the ability to ask questions and leave comments on documents to ensure there is no confusion and everyone is up to speed on what is going on. Best of all, since it is stored on the cloud, you never have to worry about someone accidentally deleting the final version. It will always be there waiting for you.
People say the cloud is the future of business but that is incorrect. It’s the present. By utilizing cloud services from Lanetco you will help improve the performance of your employees while simultaneously ensuring the competition doesn’t move ahead of your business. Contact us today at (905) 660-4118 if you’re ready to bring the benefits of the cloud to your company.