Where to find small businesses these days? In the cloud

Plantronics; Marque; White; iPad

Small businesses have jumped onto the cloud across the globe, according to a recently released study by Intuit.  The “2016 Appification of Small Business Report,” which focused on 2000 small businesses in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia, found that 64 percent run in the cloud. With cloud computing, applications and company data no longer sit on each desktop or somewhere on the network. Instead, service providers host the software — anything from email to customer relationship management software (CRM) – and documents on remote servers.

Cloud adoption is one way for small businesses to transform their operations to be more efficient and offer the level of service that larger enterprises provide, yet contain costs. As Adam Fridman points out in “3 Reasons Why Cloud is Driving Business Efficiency,”  that appears in Inc, “In today’s economy, successful companies are the ones who can innovate the fastest and the most efficiently.  A cloud strategy yields the lowest cost IT infrastructure that scales up smoothly…The cloud makes it simpler for small businesses to manage their offices wherever and to scale operations immediately.”

Among the ways, cloud computing increases efficiency:

Anywhere/anytime access to information

To access applications and files, small business employees simply log into a web-based service from a desktop or mobile device to access what they need when they need it. Cloud computing applications also include web and video conferencing capabilities, which means users easily can launch a meeting to view a presentation or conduct a brainstorm session. Whether conferencing in an open office or in an airport lounge or a coffee shop, noise-canceling headsets make sure users can hear and be heard.

Streamline business processes

Cloud computing simplifies collaboration and reporting to streamline business processes, whether to develop a new product, prepare a sales presentation or hire new employees.  File synchronization also helps complete projects more efficiently.

Cost savings and scalability

Not only does access to company information from anywhere at any time boost collaboration and productivity, it enables small businesses to support remote workers or field offices without building out an expensive IT infrastructure. In addition, cloud computing makes it easy to scale to support a growing small business team. Furthermore, there are no additional costs for software upgrades and maintenance.

Advanced tools

Cloud computing gives small businesses more options when it comes to software.  Companies can take advantage of advanced Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting, HR software and more that might otherwise be costly to implement. Software is available for “rent” though Software as a Service (SaaS), in which a third party provider hosts the application and makes it available for use over the Internet for a fee.

Continuity

With applications and data stored in the cloud, companies are assured of continuity in the event of a power outage or a natural disaster that makes it impossible to get to the office. The cloud ensures that technology remains safe and that a company can continue to operate with access to essential technology and information even if everyone is working remotely.

Cloud computing is proving to be a game changer for small businesses and employees. Whether moving all or some operations to the cloud, small businesses are realizing efficiencies to give them more time to focus on the strategic aspects of running the business to remain competitive.

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.