If you and your team can get everything right, then you can launch in two months.
This is the plan being developed in a meeting right now, where you and your team have identified a great new business opportunity.
If you can launch in that time you’ll be able to grow quicker than you hoped and get greater market share in a new niche, opening up a whole new possibilities for your product or service. The launch plan is developed. Everything is good to a go.
And then you start looking at the processes and infrastructure you need to get this done. Which, brings you all back down to earth.
You need new computer equipment, which someone points out, “will take a lot of time and money”.
You also need new software, which adds more time. Time you don’t have. There’s seemingly no way to meet the time frame required for the opportunity you have.
You are hindered by your company’s IT agility.
For small and medium businesses, being able to move quickly can give them an edge over their larger competitors.
Why? Because big businesses have a lot of corporate structure that slows down progress. In the ever-changing market environment, that means they struggle to stay on the cutting edge. But as a smaller business, you’re a lot more nimble – you have to be.
This means that you can be extremely flexible, and serve your customer base, in a way that big businesses can’t. With the challenge of out manoeuvring the incumbents in your space, any advantage you can leverage can produce great returns.
Because of this, moving to cloud based systems is fast becoming the hottest trend amongst small and medium sized businesses.
Because it enables your business to be more effective, efficient and profitable no matter what stage your business is at, in your plans.
How Can Cloud Services Transform Your Business?
So how can the cloud give your business a competitive advantage and why should you consider it rather than setting up your own IT infrastructure?
Here are some of the ways you can use cloud to give yourself the edge on your competition.
Saving You Investment Cost
Sometimes being able to out-manoeuvre your competitors is simply a matter of having the capital available for you to do so, when you need it. The same goes for implementing any growth plans you have.
Cloud technology can be a cheaper upfront investment, as you don’t have to invest in a host of associated infrastructure and IT costs. Think of things like maintenance, and of course, hardware.
Committing to those costs can be riskier, which may not be what you want when you’re just getting your business off the ground.
You also get greater predictability in your ongoing costs, as you’re not having to upgrade any physical IT infrastructure you have on site each time you update software, or you need greater data capacity. This enables you to budget ahead of time to reach your business milestones.
Being Mobile from the Start
Cloud technology, like Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange, enables your business to embrace flexible working and enable your team’s employees to work from anywhere.
Giving your team’s the choice of where and how they can work is great for engagement. Yes, employee engagement has become a buzz word of late, but it is hard to ignore that at a basic level, flexible working has a positive impact on how people view their relationship with your business, leading to greater trust from people who work for you. Which improves productivity.
Recent research also found that businesses like yours, that use mobile services more intensively see their revenues growing up to two times faster and add jobs up to eight times faster than their peers.
Mobile accessibility can pose an issue for on premise IT. These often require a third-party client to communicate between a mobile device and the on premise software.
It’s definitely not an insurmountable problem, but it can be headache.
Your teams can collaborate in easier and quicker ways with cloud tools
Speed of Implementation
Perhaps your businesses biggest aspect is speed. To make the most of your speed advantage your business has to think more about being effective than just being efficient.
Because efficiency is the act of completing a task, whether important or not, in the most economical manner possible. Being effective is doing things that get you closer to your goals. Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of many businesses.
With cloud technologies the speed at which you can implement them across your business is a lot quicker because it’s always ready, wherever you are. So your business can be productive and moving a lot sooner. Effectively giving you a head start towards your plans and goals.
You also don’t have to worry about whether you have the latest software and that all your team members have the same versions of software installed, as updates are automatically taken care of.
Managing Your Security
Ok, data security isn’t usually a topic that dominates conversation day to day at most small or medium size businesses.
But with data breaches costing UK companies an estimated £10.5 billion a year, and many IT challenges that were once faced by big companies now confronting smaller businesses, it should be on your priority list.
If you are not confident in managing your own security, or your business is unable to afford employing a dedicated person with the right skill set to manage your security then a managed cloud solution will be extremely beneficial for you.
If you chose a cloud provider, like Net Support UK with our Cyber Essentials accreditation, you know that their experience will mean they can offer the best advice on how to better protect your data and lower your risk of losing information through a cyber-attack. Making your network more stable with continuous updates.
Extending Your Talent Pool
There are a host of benefits to cloud solutions that are not just technically based.
When growing your team, you want to get the best people you can. Adding the right people to your culture is a winning combination.
People today are looking for more flexibility in the way they work. There are valuable, untapped talent pools out there, who want to be part of the workforce, who maybe can’t work from an office five days a week.
Cloud solutions like Office 365 and a remote working culture will give you access to this talent.
Your teams will be able to work from anywhere, on any device with cloud.
With a cloud application and data hosted externally, it is much easier to open up access to 3rd parties.
This paves the way to outsourcing non-core operations, or even parts of business operations more easily. With an on premise application this approach often requires a more sophisticated set of security profiles than you may currently have in place.
The holy grail for the operational side of your business is to get consistent operational processes across the company, wherever people are based.
It can be the case that with on premises solutions you may end up in a pattern of systems hampering you that can be used as an excuse to maintain the status quo.
With cloud applications, there can be a more rapid push for standardisation and the resulting benefits.
If your business is in a regulated industry, you may have obligations relating to environmental impact. There is a strong case to be made for cloud being greener.
Having all your own IT infrastructure typically means having multiple servers and network rooms with all the associated air conditioning.
With a cloud solution, the provider you choose will likely have a more efficient server ‘farm’ where cooling and electricity is cheap. Being able to tout this as part of a wider company program may be useful.
Not Moved to The Cloud Yet?
Any three of the above factors would be enough to convince many companies to move their business into the cloud. But when you add up all of the things we’ve mentioned, it’s easy to see why moving to the cloud is a hot trend for small – medium businesses.