Business and technology have a complicated two-way relationship that benefits both of them. Of course business drives the march of technology and many of the tech innovations we take for granted today were originally born out of necessity in the board room or driven by commercialism. At the same time though, technology also drives business and creates new possibilities and opportunities for companies trying to reach wider audiences or deliver a more efficient services than would previously have been possible. For small businesses and big businesses alike, failing to take advantage of new technologies and the possibilities they create is a sure fire way to fall behind the competition.
One of the most important technologies for businesses right now is ‘the cloud’ which has a number of uses for businesses both big and small, that can help you to optimize your workflow and provide better service or better products. Here we will look at why the smartest small businesses are turning to the cloud and how you can benefit from doing the same…
What is the Cloud?
Before we go on it’s rather crucial that you have an understanding of what precisely the cloud is and what the term means. Essentially, ‘the cloud’ is an umbrella term used to describe instances where things are stored on one or more remote servers rather than on a local physical drive. This term is rather loose though and can be used in many ways. You might for instance describe apps used on an iPhone as being stored in ‘the cloud’ until they are installed, though many people probably wouldn’t use the term so broadly and would only consider something like ‘OnLive’ as being a truly cloud-based service wherein the games and apps are actually played on a remote computer and only controlled by and streamed to your mobile device.
More generally in business ‘the cloud’ will be used to describe things like hosting, business applications, or storage and backup. Cloud storage simply means that you store files on one or several remote servers so that they aren’t on your computer. This can be used as a convenient way to back-up files. On the other hand, cloud hosting means hosting a website on not one server, but several that are synced so that there’s always one available during maintenance, and so that you never lose your files due to some kind of incident. Cloud based business applications essentially refer to business applications such as CRM, scheduling, accounting and so on, that are stored and hosted on remote servers and you pay a monthly fee to access and use them. By doing so, you never having to install software and store precious business data on local computers that you then have to back-up and constantly install updates to.
Benefits of the Cloud
So what are the benefits of using the cloud this way? Why should small businesses look into using cloud services to enhance their workflow and protect their data? And more importantly, how can this help you?
Never Lose Your Files: The first benefit to storing your files in the cloud is that you will never lose them. If you have files on a computer or even an external hard drive, then there is always a chance that they could get corrupted or lost in the event of a break-in, fire, or other disaster. With cloud backup and storage however, your files will potentially be hundreds of miles away and stored in multiple locations at once. It would take the destruction of the internet to prevent you from accessing your files.
Access Files From Anywhere: Another benefit of storing files in the cloud is that you can sync them across multiple devices and access them from wherever you are. This means you can start writing an essay on your laptop on the train and then finish it on your desktop computer when you get back into the office. Time is money, and particularly for small businesses, so by using the cloud you essentially ensure that you can make the most of every opportunity to be productive.
And At Any Time…: Likewise the fact that your files will be mirrored on multiple servers and storage devices means that you’ll never be unable to access them. This is particularly useful for websites as it means you can provide a consistent service where your site is never down for maintenance or because of a server issue.
Collaboration: The cloud is also incredibly useful for collaboration as it allows people the ability to access the same file in its most recent iteration from multiple locations at once. That means that when you make any kind of change or alteration to the file, that change will be reflected on the computers of all the members of your staff so that everyone is current and up to date. This facilitates the process of working together where it wouldn’t previously have been impossible. Collaboration is much easier and more efficient – saving you time and money.
Cost Effectiveness: Despite all the considerable benefits, the cloud is also one of the most cost effective ways for businesses to back up and store their files. It is possible to get essentially limitless storage space using cloud services for a low monthly cost, where storing the same amount of data on local hard drives and server setups, can become cost prohibitive. For small businesses with smaller budgets this is a fantastic way to deal with large data storage and backup needs and so better keep up with the competition.
About the Author: Lynn Rockwell is the owner of cloudbackupsource.com. A tech enthusiast to the core, she keeps a keen tab on latest tech developments and considers cloud computing as one of the landmark inventions. She has given a low down about the new technology in today’s post.
License: Creative Commons image source