Getting your head around the cloud



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What’s the cloud? What does it mean for small businesses?

The game of IT management for small business has changed. Long gone are the days where small business are held back from the best technology due to a lack of cash and capability. Going back a decade, large businesses will have always had the IT edge purely due to their extensive financial and human resources. Small business struggled to match their larger counterparts because of the huge cost associated with having on premise hardware and software for business operations. The game has changed though, and cloud computing is the instigator.

Often the phrase ‘cloud computing’ is heard and instantly non-technical folk tune out, believing the terminology and conversation is reserved for tech experts. But we’re all using cloud computing every day, and more and more small businesses are realizing the benefits of doing so too. In the rest of this post, you’ll learn a bit about what cloud computing really means and the benefits on offer for any small business.

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Image source (https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/549791066979744751/)

Cloudy with a chance of computing

Put simply, cloud computing is where software and data is stored on a server off premise so that it can be accessed by any device, anywhere. All the cloud really is, is a metaphor for the internet. In the past, small businesses would have to pay to have their own server on site, and would access data and any business software locally on their own computers or servers. This costly, time consuming and technically challenging solution has been replaced by cloud services, where a person or business can pay for space on a server off site. These services may be better known in the consumer space as smartphone apps like mobile banking and Google Docs, both cloud powered services.

The ability to access data and programs over the internet rather than from a hard drive delivers endless business benefits. It allows businesses to work more conveniently & remotely across various locations, and allows efficient access to business critical data and software. Anytime, anywhere cloud services are cheaper than traditional IT methods, because they operate on a subscription basis, where you pay for what you need. As well as cost savings, the other key benefit is that the service is constantly upgraded and improved as the technology is. Think about cloud computing like you do a mobile phone contract. You pay a set monthly fee, and regardless of the amount of software updates your phone goes through as it improves, you only ever pay the same price. Cloud computing is similar in this way. But cost is just one of many benefits, here’s some more…

 

Taking your business into the sky

As well as the obvious cost savings encountered from operating off premise, small businesses can access backup and disaster recovery systems previously unavailable to them. In the past, if a business was hit by some kind of natural disaster, or someone spilled their coffee on the server, all was lost. With cloud computing, business data and software is securely stored on another continent, in datacentres where the providers have spent literally millions on security.

Flexibility is another valuable benefit of cloud computing. Services like Microsoft’s office 365 is more than just Word in a web browser. Storage of files in the cloud mean that people can safely and easily access data anywhere, anytime. Got a presentation with a client but forgot your memory stick? No worries, with documents backed up in the cloud, you can easily access those PowerPoint slides from anywhere with a quick, simple log in. Put simply, cloud services help to break the chain between the office and business information. At this point in time, your business may even be in the minority of those not utilizing the cloud, with 86% of UK based organisations using at least one cloud service.

Another really valuable cloud service that small businesses could gain value from, is analytics & big data in the cloud. Whilst this may seem like another scary IT buzz word to non-technical folk, this simply put is utilizing consumer data on the internet to drive valuable market insights. An example of this would be IBMs Watson Analytics platform, where you can discover detailed market insights and trends for any type of business, simply by providing a few relevant key terms.

 

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Getting your head into the clouds

I hope this high level overview has provided a nice introduction to the value that small business can earn using cloud services. In a nutshell, cloud services is all about flexibility, security and saving money.

We wrote this piece as a follow up to a brilliant industry event that the Cute team attended this week, where cloud services was a key theme. The ‘Define Tomorrow’ event at @Bristol featured talks on the value that businesses of any size can derive from using cloud. There is no end to the value of really understanding industry trends as well as meeting with people who are passionate about the industry. The core of our ethos is in truly having a passion for and an understanding of the businesses we work with to enable us to find the very best candidates. We do our best to learn as much as possible about an industry and what’s next in that field, which positions us to deliver people who share your business passions.

If you’d like to learn how we can help your business, get in touch today!

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