The cloud is one of the most mystifying tech concepts. Ask 10 business owners about it and you will likely get 10 different answers. What these owners will agree upon however, is that it is useful for business, and that cloud systems will eventually come to be the main type of technology used in most organizations. The question many small business owners and managers struggle with however is how exactly they can incorporate the cloud in their business.
There are many uses for cloud systems in small to medium businesses. Here are five of the most common:
1. Business Continuity and backup
As disasters continue to increase in ferocity and occurrence, many businesses are starting to develop plans that will allow them to remain operational during a disaster, or to recover quicker at the least. These Business Continuity Plans often involve data backup and recovery methods.
Because cloud systems are hosted off-site, they make for powerful backup and recovery solutions. Many cloud vendors actually offer complete backup solutions that will sync your data with their servers on a regular basis. When you need to recover lost data most allow you to do so within a number of hours, or less.
Cloud systems are also popular because they are not usually based in, or near your location. This means that the provider likely won’t be affected by any geographically linked disaster. So, should you see a disaster take out your physical property, you won’t also lose data backups.
Communication systems like email, chat and voice or video calls have all found their home in the cloud. With email platforms like Gmail and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), communication systems are probably the most well known cloud-based services.
By utilizing services like these, businesses have been able to get enterprise level solutions at a fraction of the cost of hosting services on their premises.
3. Data storage and file sharing
Cloud storage services like DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and even those hosted by IT partners, have made it easier for companies to host files in a central location that can be easily accessed by employees, at a fraction of the cost of other solutions. Because many cloud services offer cheap storage rates, and support almost any file types, businesses have found that they can upload and store files easily.
When a colleague or client needs access to a file, you can simply give them the link which allows users to download the files themselves, instead of attaching a potentially large file in an email.
The other way companies are using cloud storage is to enable remote workers. By storing files on an Internet-based system, you can access them from anywhere. This makes it easier for businesses with remote workers to access and work on these files.
CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, systems have also found a home in the cloud. Traditionally, these systems were expensive to set up and maintain, and were therefore the domain of larger enterprises. Now however, there are numerous cloud-based vendors offering exactly the same systems at an affordable cost, making CRM attainable for all businesses.
With these systems in place, businesses have been better able to manage and leverage customer information and prospective customers, making them drastically more competitive.
5. Document creation and collaboration
Many businesses are increasingly turning into fully collaborative environments, with teams working together on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Many cloud-based document creation systems, like Office 365’s Office Web Apps and Google Drive, allow users to create and store documents online.
What’s more, team members can also work on documents at the same time, with changes showing up instantly. This cuts down the time needed to merge document versions and saves confusion as to what version of document is most current. Essentially, these systems have simplified the way many businesses work, making it easier for employees to carry out their tasks.
If you are interested in learning more about cloud systems and how they can be used in your business, please get in touch with us. We’d be happy to sit down and see how we can help.