If you’re a start-up, making use of the cloud can be a no-brainer, but for more established businesses, the advantages of heading off-site may be harder to quantify.
That’s until you begin to look at the benefits – which are, in fact, manifold. Small wonder then that the Cloud Industry Forum estimates that 90% of UK businesses will be using at least one cloud service.
Here are seven ways the cloud can help you lower your overheads and streamline your operations.
Open all hours
First and foremost, the cloud offers you and your employees the ability to access information while on the go and from any location – providing, of course, that you have a reliable internet connection at your disposal. This can extend to just about every aspect of your business – from the running of reports, to the creation of invoices, authorising payroll, paying bills, HR appraisals and analytics. And all on a mobile device of your own choosing.
Unsure of what your business requirements could be in a year’s time, or reluctant to invest a lump sum in hardware or software that may prove little more than hype? You’re not alone. The beauty of the cloud is that it enables you to ‘try before you buy’, as well as keep track with the latest software innovations on a pay-as-you-go footing – and all without the usual update headaches. This ability to select Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as Infrastructures and Platforms (IaaS and PaaS, respectively), is the primary business objective for many companies migrating to the cloud – with increasing flexibility in access to technology (80%) and increasing speed of access to technology (79%) cited in the Cloud Adoption Trends survey.
Reducing IT spend
Although some companies may choose to keep some processes on-site, the cloud is entirely capable of servicing all your technology needs – leaving you with the option of using tablets and other devices as you see fit. Migrating more of your software needs and data to the cloud reduces the lump sums normally associated with hardware and software, as well as the amount of employees needed to maintain technology, troubleshoot issues and keep things secure. What’s more, having a cloud-based platform for sharing may offset the security risk of any users going rogue and using unofficial accounts.
Risk and recovery
Data storage and regular back-ups – two business essentials that can be performed within the cloud, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your data is housed elsewhere in the event of an operations-threatening cyber attack, break in or fire on-site. Should you ever be without premises, your business will have the ability to continue running its cloud-based processes and data from any location or device.
Cloud-based working is far more straightforward, giving everyone in the business access to centralised data as and when needed – regardless of where they happen to be located. Remote sales teams, for example, are able to harness the same information as other colleagues in the business as they head into that all-important client meeting; while project teams can track, manage and schedule tasks as well as share files in a far more efficient manner with cloud-based folders able to house files and track changes in real-time rather than requiring employees to manage version control.
As well as boosting collaboration, the cloud offers its own unique brand of analytics – with companies able to integrate information from these multiple sources. Software developers are not just honing customer relationship tools either, but looking inward with talent nurturing analytics aiming to reduce recruitment and retention woes.
Keeping people happy
HR is becoming a key feature of the cloud – and with good reason: after all, better access to data from every corner of your organisation gives you the tools to nurture – right from the get-go. HR in the form of SaaS is often more straightforward, too – allowing employees to get closer to their own personal data and giving them control over holiday schedules. All this makes for a happier employee – especially when they’re already enjoying the other benefits the cloud delivers.