Technology and innovation have impacted global commerce in a myriad number of ways by facilitating connectivity like never before and by enabling business decisions to flow from an ordinary desktop. Outsourcing and off-shoring techniques quickly gathered steam and rode the wave of these trends for the past four decades, leading to a global marketplace where capital and products and services may flow freely across national borders. While many larger corporations with multi-country footprints and the resources necessary for the effort were the primary benefactors of these solutions, these trends are now making their way down the food chain to smaller business enterprises.
“Cloud Computing” has become the catchphrase for this phenomenon, and, although most surveys point out that nearly 75% of small business owners have no idea what the term means, the rush is on to get educated quickly because the benefits can be enormous. For most small business owners, the technology revolution of the past few decades has increased their dependence on IT-savvy professionals. The need for talent in this area has swollen compensation and bloated overhead while promising benefits that are difficult to measure since measuring lost business is not an easy task.
The key benefit of Cloud Computing is that much of your technical dependence can now be outsourced to a group of professionals. Your need for a large band of internal technicians focused on every new application on the market or operating system upgrade requirement simply vanishes “into the cloud”, so to speak. Your internal task becomes more one of contract management with fewer IT professionals impacting your payroll. As with larger entities, outsourcing brings the benefits of scale to your door, reducing your overall operating costs, allowing you to focus more time on building your business, and making your products and services more competitive and secure from an operating perspective.
Gone are the days of having to buy or lease hardware and software to run your basic operations in-house. Nearly any application can be hosted in an offsite, shared arrangement of computers, while software applications can be accessed by both staff and customers through the browser on their desktop, or through “the cloud” if you prefer the newer terminology. From a financial standpoint, you will no longer need large loans or infusions of capital. Simple working capital loans will suffice to fund your business as it grows. Many successful companies today have gone totally “virtual”, avoiding the necessity for the “brick and mortar” of the past and relying on communication links to all employees and key outsourced providers.
In order to get started, due diligence is critical. As with any business decision, preparation and planning will determine the quality of your intended outcome. The project may require a separate funding source, perhaps from designated working capital loans. Lastly, ensure that your “Cloud Computing” partners are financially sound, experienced at what they do, and eager to gain your confidence with their core competency – operating software applications efficiently from any remote location.