Cloud technology levels the playing field between small business and larger competitors. For the first time in my history, and probably the history of the business world, geography and a lack of resources aren’t confining small and medium sized businesses to a certain space, and bigger operations can’t implement change at a rate fast enough to remain viable amongst smaller, more agile competitors.
Digital Disruption and Opening the Space for Small Business
Anytime new technology enters the marketplace, it causes digital disruption. Remember how Netflix and Redbox pushed Blockbuster and other video rental stores out of business? How Uber forever changed the way people hire a car service? Or how Airbnb shook-up the way people connected with lodging when they travel? Technological innovation made each of these advances possible and forever altered the way people lived their lives.
Some of the companies pushed out of the way were massive, and their successors relatively minor. Certainly most were “virtual,” for the most part, saving scads of money of huge onsite infrastructure and real estate costs. These changes illustrate the power of how our recent technological advancements, especially cloud computing, has changed what the future looks like for small businesses.
Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Businesses
In some ways, cloud computing can elevate smaller businesses above larger companies. By nature, small to mid-sized efforts have tighter workforces. When these smaller enterprises decide to make a change, they don’t have to wade through multiple levels of bureaucracy to gain momentum. Thus, they can make a commitment and then reap the benefits in a fraction of the time a larger company might need.
Small and medium sized businesses gravitate towards cloud technology for a number of additional reasons:
- It’s cost effective. Cloud technology gives companies access to reliable off-site data centers for running applications and storing data. They no longer have to purchase hardware for onsite servers (they don’t even have to have room for onsite servers!), or hire extensive IT support. Instead, they can rely on a 3rd party vendor to supply data security, scalable storage, IT support, and fast running times.
- It offers flexibility. Cloud solutions aren’t tied to a particular internal network. Employees can access the information they need at home, at a coffee shop down the street, or in the office. From my perspective, cloud technology drives mobility and allows small business owners to cut back on overhead costs to enjoy increased profit margins, all while providing employees with better job perks and work-life balance.
- It facilitates communication. Communication is the key to customer satisfaction. With cloud technology, employees can collaborate better, whether they’re in the same office or working remotely. It also allows companies to facilitate more efficient communication between the customer and the company. Fast response times are an indicator of good customer service. With cloud solutions, businesses can respond to consumers whether they’re reaching out through social media or a phone call.
- It integrates better. To truly leverage solutions in a business, they need to integrate well. You should be able to take metrics from your email marketing campaign and plug them into your CRM system to see which leads your sales team should follow up with. You may also need your accounting to integrate to support customers easily. Most cloud solutions are highly integrative and allow small business owners to spend time elsewhere.
- It’s accessible. With cloud technology, which offer high quality solutions at a lower cost, small companies have access to the same data, dashboards, reports, and tools as large corporations. They can use cloud based solutions to create marketing and advertising campaigns and support customers as effectively as national competitors.
I’ve talked to small business owners who are afraid of moving to the cloud because they don’t understand the technology or they have security concerns. The reality is cloud technology can support a business at any level.
Your company can leverage cloud computing to run applications more efficiently while storing sensitive data on internal servers. Or you could invest in a hybrid cloud solution that offers both public and private cloud solutions to meet your requirements.
Cloud vendors realize the need for strong security, troubleshooting, and support, and they often have access to better security resources than some small businesses. These companies can take advantage of the benefits the vendor provides without having to dedicate their own time and resources. For many, they only have to pay a subscription fee and call the support line as needed. It’s easy and affordable.
Investing in cloud computing as a small business is a remarkable strategy that will benefit a company now and into the future. If yours hasn’t looked into cloud-based solutions, I would strongly recommend doing so in 2016.
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A version of this post was first published on MillennialCEO.