Increase flexibility and resource efficiency with cloud services
Cloud computing has created a technology revolution for small businesses, offering access to a range of capabilities that typically only larger companies can afford. Using an Internet connection and a Web browser, small companies can tap into software and services as they need them and pay for what they use on a monthly basis, like utility services. Your business can join the “Cloud” to access everything from data backup, accounting software to customer relationship management systems.
Cloud resources are scalable so you can increase capacity to support growth and handle busy periods. One of the most challenging aspects of running a small company is predicting what resources your business will need — enough to scale and take advantage of opportunities, but not so much that you overspend. With Cloud resources, rather than having to predict your needs, you can use just what is needed to manage your growth and enhance your efficiency. For example, if customer and project demands require increased collaboration, you can access collaboration tools quickly and without advanced planning. Your flexibility as an organization rises when you work in the Cloud because your ability to react is greatly improved.
Cloud-based services can help you save money on many fronts, including server maintenance, power and cooling costs, and software licensing and upgrade expenses. Just under half — 49% of SMEs use Cloud computing to lower costs, according to a Microsoft survey. Rather than spending money to maintain hardware that often goes unused, subscribing to software and services for a low monthly fee can help small businesses stretch their budgets further.
But there is a caveat — as your business grows, so does the amount of cloud based software and the data it contains. The sheer volume of stored customer data requires a team to input and manage. SMEs are now searching for cloud software to manage their existing internal business services. One of the excellent features of cloud based services is that they can be easily integrated with one another to ensure that data is accurate and updated. Rather than enter the same data in 2–3 systems using a team of 2–3 colleagues, companies can enter the information once in a cloud based central hub that connects with various web based software.
Start organising your services better by connecting your two most used systems today. Perhaps it’s your CRM and bookkeeping system. See how data moves between the services and scale up your cloud usage from there. Reap the benefits of increased efficiency and flexibility across your business processes.
 Microsoft U.S. SMB Cloud Computing Research Summary, Fall 2010
 Cloutex customer data Summer 2013
David is the Managing Director of Blu Mint Digital; and writes about Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship. This article he wrote was written for Cloutex.
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