When a business expands from the first couple of employees to the first handful, everyone starts to notice that sharing and editing documents becomes a little difficult to manage. A growing business often begins to have concerns about how and where to securely store their data, not to mention the hours of research spent trying to find the best hardware. If that’s the case for you, consider if cloud computing is the way to solve these concerns.
Cloud computing offers an alternative to hosting your own servers in your office. When you store your data and software on a remote third-party server (‘in the cloud’), it relieves you of the responsibility for managing both the hardware and software. It keeps things very simple and flexible – any staff member with the correct credentials can tap into the secure network, from anywhere in the world.
There are a lot of benefits to using cloud computing when you’re a small or medium size business. Let’s take a look at what the cloud can do for small businesses.
Back up and disaster recovery
Your data needs to be backed up regularly to protect your business from interruption and loss should something go wrong. Every business should have back up procedures in place, but if no-one in the business knows how to manage the process, it creates a risk. When your data is stored in the cloud, the host is able to back up and protect your information, and provide quick disaster recovery support if you need it.
Automatic software updates
When you operate your business from the cloud, the IT company that hosts your data also maintains your software programs – including looking after the ever-changing threat of cyber-security. That means you don’t need to worry about keeping anything up to date, or installing patches or fixing bugs. That all happens for you, and it’s often conducted out of hours so there’s less inconvenience for your team and customers.
Ability to adapt to changing capacity
As your business grows, you will need to add more users to your network. This expansion can be easily accommodated by your cloud computing host (as can reducing capacity if required). This eliminates concerns about managing your own server capacity, and creates ‘operational agility’ – the ability to respond to needs quickly.
Installing your own servers often comes with a high upfront cost, then you need to maintain them over time. If something important breaks there can be high costs associated with quick critical fixes. Cloud computing will reduce up-front fees, and is usually based on a monthly subscription model. The set cost is predictable, and easy to work into the budget.
Because the cloud is accessed via the internet, you can be located anywhere in the world and connect to your data. All you need is your device, an internet connection and the authentication details (username and password). Often customised apps are located in the cloud, too, so employees can work from tablets and smartphones. This helps keep staff connected while on the move, and creates work-from-home opportunities.
Improve document control
Document control is important. When you start emailing a file around to collaborate, it can get messy and accidentally duplicated. Keeping files in the cloud eliminates this problem. Working on a single file with multiple authors keeps the document secure and can track changes. If you have employees in different time zones, delays can be caused while waiting on a file to be returned with edits. Working in the cloud means anyone can contribute within their own schedule.
Access the latest software
Whether you’re working on desktops or devices, cloud-based software is always up to date, and can be tailored to your needs. The software is often subscription-based which avoids expensive annual renewal fees, and any updates are managed for you.
Facilitate greater collaboration
In addition to the continuity provided by cloud-based collaboration, the cloud can provide greater opportunities for staff to share ideas. Information can be accessed widely and team communication channels can see real-time conversations elicit new solutions to challenges.
Excellent data security
A lost or stolen laptop is expensive to replace. Losing the data stored on the laptop is often worse. Basing your data in the cloud eliminates this concern. If a device does go missing, it can be disconnected from the network and wiped remotely without losing any data. If an employee leaves the company, their access can be revoked and your data stays contained.
Storing data on a professionally managed server comes with additional cyber-security benefits. The servers are attended to by qualified engineers that maintain a secure digital environment. 24/7 monitoring provides robust protection against malware or ransomware attacks, and should any technology fail, there are innumerable redundancies in place to protect your data.
Achieve a competitive advantage
Small businesses often have one key advantage over larger companies. The ability to make quick decisions and act on opportunities can get businesses ahead of the competition. When your business can rely on the most up to date technology and software, informed decisions can return unexpected benefits.
There are lots of good reasons to shift to the cloud. As your business expands, it makes sense to outsource your supporting roles, so you can concentrate on more important things. Your business will benefit from your full attention, your staff will benefit from greater flexibility, your clients will benefit from higher security protocols and faster service.
About EC-MSP, your cloud computing partners
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support establishing your business tech support needs, including cloud computing, contact us today to see how we can help.