|Guest Post by
Mary Ann Keeling
|Follow Mary Ann On twitter: @MaryAnnKeeling|
Major companies such as Google, IBM and Amazon have already utilized the cloud to secure and manage most of their data, but it can also be implemented to great effect in medium and small businesses. The following is a breakdown of how cloud computing can drastically improve the productivity, security and organization of all your business activities.
The business models of yesteryear, where an organization had to have a fixed location and rigid structure, are being redefined to the very core. Cloud technologies allow you to access your data from anywhere and at any time; all that is needed is an internet connection and a pc, smartphone or any other gadget that can connect to the internet. This allows for a more agile, adaptable and fluid business. Cloud makes business dynamic more than ever before, with instant access to your files and colleagues, as well as partners and clients. Also with cloud-based note-taking tools such as Google Keep, OneNote or Evernote, you can capture and store ideas (your most valuable assets) on the go.
Next to physical, cloud computing also provides flexibility regarding costs since it reduces them and thus makes an even better fit for the needs of small businesses and startups. Cloud can help you start a business at ease, since you don’t have to invest in database licenses, IT tools and equipment, onsite servers and extra space to store all of this.
There is a common misconception that cloud services are too expensive, so many entrepreneurs hesitate from switching to cloud.
There are many cloud services that are completely free of charge with Dropbox being the forerunner in this field (you can store up to 2GB of any data you chose on its cloud system for no cost at all). There’s no shortage of similar free services such as Google Drive, One Drive, Cubby, SugarSync and Bitcasa just to name a few. All of these services can be upgraded for a fee to meet even the most demanding business needs. Opting for a cloud business solution means that you will never have to spend another dollar on memory cards, disks and hard drives. Unlike these storage devices, you cannot damage, misplace or lose data stored in the cloud.
The cloud can be utilized in all business structures and modified to meet any specific business needs. For example, there is a large selection of tools that enable your team to work one single task no matter where they are located. By sharing files, emails, calendars and task boards on one virtual location in real time you can raise the productivity and synergy of your team, regardless of where they are in the world. Add to this internet conferencing and integrated email and you have yourself a complete virtual office environment. With fast access to files through cloud, small business owners can easily track individual progress on all the tasks and thus improve business efficiency. According to the study by Exact and Pb7 small business that switched to cloud doubled their profits.
Data is the core of any business organization, and a reliable backup is essential for both peace of mind and continuity. The benefits of a reliable and secure backup system are multifold. System crashes are a prime example of a worst case scenario, and are all too common in most businesses. If you do not have an effective and bulletproof backup system, you run the very real risk of losing important data that is pivotal in your company’s operations. The traditional ways of storing your backup data was on hardware such as external USBs, second hard drives or recordable CDs and DVDs. This option, while secure has many drawbacks. Backing up your information in this way is time consuming, and copying large batches of information can impede your employees in doing their everyday jobs while the backup is taking place. This is markedly not the case with the cloud, as the backup process is carried out automatically, in real time, and with no adverse effect on your computing power and functionality. In addition, this backup has no physical location, and can be viewed and edited from anywhere that has access to the internet. To create this virtual backup, all you need to do is assign a designated folder that is synced automatically to your account.
What about security?
As mentioned before storing your backups at the office can be risky since they may be stolen or accessed by an unauthorized person. CDs and hard drives can also get corrupted which is why you should consider storing your data in the clouds. Cloud service companies can secure your data in an encrypted network infrastructure so you do not have to worry about somebody getting their hands on your sensitive files. Security is a cornerstone of cloud computing’s appeal, and cloud providers go to great lengths to ensure unparalleled information security to their users. There is a network of security management systems that are implemented as standard. A variety of controls make sure your data is safe, ranging from deterrent and detective controls, to controls aimed at prevention and correction.
Cloud is becoming integral part of every business, and in 2016 there would be even more cloud-based tools and strategies. Since staying relevant is one of the best qualities an entrepreneur can have, keep an eye on how cloud is affecting your industry. Since it can easily adapt to your business needs, embracing it will help your business stay on the growth track!