Cloud computing is changing the way people do business. A company that has rapid access to data is one that can react quickly to changes and new opportunities. By giving the business teams access to data fast, they can adjust business strategies and approaches.
Tom Coombe is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has worked in the news business for the last 15 years, most of that time in the Lehigh Valley. Tom has done the morning news for WDIY in college, launched AOL’s Patch.com in Easton and covered everything from murder to municipal government for the Morning Call. He’s talked about apes with Jane Goodall, blogged about TV shows and written music reviews. Tom has also freelanced for WFMZ, the Produce Marketing Association and a number of other publications.
Cloud computing is changing the way people do business. A study (PDF) earlier this year by Tata Communications found that most companies will have 58 percent of the data stored on the Cloud within the next 10 years. The same study found that 69 percent of respondents said that using the Cloud increased their productivity.
A company that has rapid access to data is one that can react quickly to changes and new opportunities. By giving the business teams access to data fast, they can adjust business strategies and approaches. If it takes days, weeks or months to provide them access to data, the opportunities could be lost.
Here are a few ways cloud computing will help you and your team perform better.
- Improved Data Management
Using cloud computing lets companies have a better handle on what’s known as “big data.”
Big data refers to very large amounts of data in a business that, if analyzed, could reveal patterns, trends and insights to improve the business.
With traditional storage methods, it was difficult for companies to analyze their databases, requiring well-trained specialists. The larger the company, the longer it would take. With the Cloud, you have the tools you need to sort through data quickly and smoothly.
The Cloud makes it possible to move data between databases more quickly and easily. It prevents data being siloed and unavailable to be associated with data from other databases or applications. Breaking through those silos and getting at all data and associating it with other data, gives a more complete analysis and picture. And often the non-technical staff can use simple exporting tools, without having to request it from the IT department. By empowering others, you are the hero.
Although you’ll spend on hosting, you’ll save on maintenance and repair costs, as well as on storage and server costs.
- Connect From Literally Anywhere
Companies that invest in collaborative technologies can see their productivity increase by leaps and bounds. According to a recent survey by the firm of Frost & Sullivan, such investments can lead to as much as a 400 percent jump in productivity.
Cloud computing lets your employees access the files and documents they need no matter where they are. Do they need to show a client a sample of a new website from the client’s office? Pull it off the Cloud. Are you traveling? Access your files from the Cloud from the plane. As long as there’s an Internet connection, there’s no problem. With many cloud filing systems you can also choose to keep a copy of documents locally on computers, tablets or mobile devices, for offline work.
By accessing files from one location, you streamline your communication and collaborative processes.
- Eliminate Tons of IT Problems
By using cloud computing, you’re giving yourself the chance to outsource more IT work. You’ll free yourself of the burden of having to maintain an in-house IT program, with the cloud service provider assuming all of your risks, taking care of updates, security and maintenance, saving time and thus increasing productivity elsewhere.
And although it might seem like keeping your IT in-house is a safer solution, the loss of control comes with the knowledge that an outside firm could look after your data more securely.
- Disaster Strikes? No Biggie.
Disasters happen. Your building catches fire. The local river floods. A major snowstorm kills the power in your community for a week straight. Someone hits “drive” when they meant to go into reverse and crashes into your office.
Losing data in that kind of situation can be a massive setback for your business. Using cloud storage can help you avoid this kind of scenario altogether. It’s an even more secure data back-up, with the Cloud storing a cloned version of all your data in case something goes wrong at the office.
- WFH: Decrease Stress, Increase Convenience
Are you and your employees burned out from a long daily commute? The Cloud can let you telecommute more frequently, cutting back on employee stress. The more flexible employees can be with their schedules, the less stressed they are, the more work they can get done for you.
The Cloud also lets you retain or recruit workers in other areas. You might find someone who’s the perfect fit for your business, but for whatever reason, isn’t able to move to your city. Or maybe one of your existing employees needs to move because their partner has a new job in another part of the country. It doesn’t matter. Cloud computing can allow them to work for you from anywhere in the world.
- Be “BYOD” Friendly
More and more workers are working using their own devices. The phenomenon is called BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device (others refer to it as “Bring Your Own Desktop,” but the idea is the same). With that in mind, it’s important to have a system that allows your workers to access your materials from multiple locations and multiple devices.
Avoiding making that switch means you risk looking outdated in the eyes of potential employees and customers.
“This isn’t going away, it doesn’t matter how much you want it to be like 1996 again where everyone ran Windows on a Thinkpad. Those days are over,” security strategist Richard Henderson told CNBC in a story about the BYOD movement. “Do it or stay mediocre.”
- You’ll Be a More Agile Business
We’ll point to one last survey (PDF), this one from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. It found that nearly three-quarters of the businesses they polled reported getting a competitive edge from using cloud computing. Why? Because the Cloud let them land on new opportunities faster than their competitors.
By using the Cloud, your small business enjoys the advantages of a larger company. You will build agility, become more efficient and ultimately strengthen your employee base — allowing your workforce to develop products and respond to customers faster.
This article was originally published on Small Business Trends.