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How Moving to the Cloud Changes a Small Business

Moving to the cloud can transform your small business operations and capabilities to drive sustainable growth. But how? Read on to learn more at Journolink

Are you considering moving to the cloud?

You’re not alone—87% of enterprises have adopted multi-cloud solutions, according to a survey by Flexera. Cloud-based solutions deliver services over an internet connection, such as servers, storage, applications, and on-demand services.

As digital transformation takes the world by storm, businesses are flocking to the cloud in drones to build a foundation of digital-first agility. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), strategic cloud adoption can unlock increased productivity, cost savings, inherent scalability, and other growth-driving opportunities.

But of course, moving to the cloud is a huge step. Only by understanding the challenges can you execute successful cloud initiatives. So, while we’ll discuss the glorious advantages of cloud adoption, we’ll also touch on some of the challenges faced by SMBs.

Increasing popularity of cloud adoption in businesses

Small businesses aren’t just adopting cloud solutions—they’re embracing them more enthusiastically than large enterprises.

Flexera found that 30% of small businesses are spending between $600,000 and $1.2 million annually on public cloud solutions. SMBs also house 67% of their workloads and 63% of their data in the public cloud.

 

Image sourced from Flexera

Image sourced from Flexera

 

So, why is the cloud so popular with small businesses?

SMBs possess the agility that large enterprises tend to lack. With fewer moving parts and dependencies to consider, small businesses can adopt cloud initiatives faster and with reduced risk.

But that’s only scratching the surface.

Benefits of moving to the cloud

The benefits of moving to the cloud are vast and lucrative. Here’s how adopting cloud solutions can improve internal efficiency and drive small business growth.

Decreased hardware costs and flexible pricing models

The cost of purchasing and maintaining on-premise hardware falls on your shoulders—and it’s a hefty expense. Moving to the cloud is a cost-effective solution because it doesn’t require you to purchase hardware.

Cloud services host all of their infrastructure remotely and provide them to you via a flexible pay-as-you-go subscription model. So, you don’t need to buy extra office space or budget for increased overheads every time you want to scale. This flexibility allows you to be more agile and drive more funds toward other essential areas.

Seamless resource scaling according to business requirements

Unlike legacy systems, the cloud is inherently scalable. The pay-as-you-go model allows you to scale up or down in alignment with your business’s immediate needs. And, because your services are provided via the cloud, there’s no need to purchase expensive additional hardware, office space, or maintenance services.

If you need to add more users, functionalities, or features, you can simply upgrade to a larger package. If you no longer need some of these features, you can downgrade to a smaller package.

Take order management, for example.

Scalable cloud-based order management software accommodates business growth and the fulfilment complexities that follow. As your order volumes and channels increase, so do the capabilities of your software. So, you can support a higher volume of customers across a wider variety of channels without worrying about hitting the ceiling.

Access data and applications remotely

Currently, 80 million people in the US are working remotely on a part-time or full-time basis. Their ability to do so productively depends almost entirely on the cloud.

Using cloud services, workers can access remote networks, data, and applications without needing to go into the office. As long as they have an internet connection, they can access all of the resources they need on the device of their choice from any location in the world.

Plus, with remote access and helpdesk software, IT support can connect to, troubleshoot, and resolve technical difficulties from afar. This leads to faster resolutions and boosted productivity.

Automation of processes and workflows using cloud-based apps

Manual processes are time-consuming and tedious. They drain productivity, increase your risk of errors, and lower employee and customer satisfaction.

Cloud-based software often uses automation technology to eliminate the inefficiencies of manual processes and streamline workflows. It can be applied in many critical business areas, such as inventory management, customer support, reporting, workforce management, and accounting.

For example, traditional accounts payable (AP) processes involve thousands of hours of manual data entry and management. But using an automated accounts payable system, small businesses can automate invoicing, approvals, and supplier management processes.

 

Screenshot taken from Sage.com

Screenshot taken from Sage.com

 

So, not only can you be sure that invoices are accurate and paid on time, but your team can apply their skills to more tactical, growth-driving initiatives.

Collaborate on shared documents in real time

Flexible, hybrid working is here to stay. And along with remote access, it’s facilitated by cloud solutions through real-time document sharing.

Cloud technology unites team workflows by enabling multiple employees to access and edit documents in real-time. Changes are synced automatically, so when a change is made to the document, every team member will see it immediately.

This significantly speeds up workflows as employees can contribute whenever they want with no waiting necessary.

Enhanced personalisation and improved customer engagement

For a customer-centric business, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are the ultimate sidekick. The most popular CRMs, according to G2, are Salesforce, Hubspot, and Zoho.

 

Screenshot from salesforce.com

Screenshot from salesforce.com

 

As well as storing masses of invaluable customer data—demographics, psychographics, behavioural data, and more—cloud CRMs have powerful reporting and analysis features. This information can uncover key insights into your customers’ purchasing motivations and behaviours, which you can use to provide more personalised experiences.

For example, you can use customer data to fuel your next small business PR strategy or refine your personalised messaging to drive engagement.

Regular data backups and disaster recovery options

If you’re using cloud solutions, there will be additional backups of your data in secure, remote locations. This prevents it from being lost in a natural disaster or equipment failure. Cloud services are also invested in disaster recovery, meaning that you can continue operating in spite of an emergency situation.

Leverage of cloud provider's advanced security measures

Cloud solutions are fully maintained by the hosting provider’s team of cybersecurity experts. They perform all of the necessary updates and patches in alignment with stringent data security protocols.

Reputable providers will also implement advanced security measures to protect against unauthorised access, cyberattacks, and other security threats. They’ll leverage controls such as multi-layered data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and GDPR compliance.

For small businesses that don’t have the expertise or budget to handle security themselves, cloud solutions offer the high-level security that’s critical to compliance.

Challenges and factors to consider

With all of the above being said, it’s wise to acknowledge that moving to the cloud comes with its share of challenges. Here are the most common.

Selecting trustworthy vendors and potential costs

A vendor might appear to be trustworthy, but are they really?

Unfortunately, this is something that every business needs to consider when they’re choosing cloud solutions. Do your research into the vendor by reading customer testimonials and third-party reviews on trusted websites.

This next one might come as a surprise, but the cost is another factor to consider.

Now, remember when we said that cost-effectiveness was a benefit of cloud solutions? Well, that’s still true. But here’s the thing—on average, businesses waste 28% of their total cloud spend.

Image sourced from Flexera

Image sourced from Flexera

Managing cloud spend has become the most pressing challenge for small businesses. With so many options and varieties to choose from, overspending has become rife.

By carefully analysing your budget, identifying your priorities, and leveraging low-budget software solutions, you can optimise cloud initiatives.

Data privacy and compliance concerns

Data security and compliance are the second and third most common challenges experienced by small businesses.

Putting your data in the cloud puts it at risk of cyberattacks. And while the security measures implemented by verified cloud solutions are incredibly rigorous and advanced, there’s always the chance of a hack or data breach catching you off guard.

Plus, in the case of hosted software, you have to trust that your vendor is being compliant with data privacy laws.

Internet connectivity and reliability

If you’re in an area with a poor internet connection or don’t have the budget to invest in high speeds, you’re going to experience connectivity issues. Poor connectivity is going to increase downtime, which, in turn, decreases business productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

Developing a tech-savvy workforce

There’s no way around it—for cloud initiatives to be successful, they need to be powered by a tech-savvy workforce.

Cloud initiatives will unlock new business needs and requirements. So, you might need to hire cloud experts to fill these newly-created positions. On top of this, your current workforce will need to be upskilled accordingly.

For businesses with a limited budget, these activities might not be financially viable.

Should you move your small business to the cloud?

Moving to the cloud might sound a bit scary. But with so many businesses adopting cloud solutions (your competitors included), it’s definitely an initiative that you should undertake sooner rather than later.

As long as you prepare for the challenges that we’ve discussed here, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the many benefits that moving to the cloud has to offer. Reduced costs, seamless scaling, enhanced personalisation, powerful automation—what’s not to love?

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