According to the results of IT management software specialist Spiceworks’ “State of SMB IT” global survey, nearly half of small and medium-sized businesses have adopted tablet computers and cloud services.
What are cloud services? Cloud computing is basically storing data on a remote server rather than your desktop or company server. Many of us have already used cloud computing in some way or another on a personal basis for several years either through gmail or hotmail. As the survey results indicate, now more than ever, small and medium-sized businesses are using web-based technologies to replace traditional software programs.
Cloud based software can do everything from inventory management, order production and invoicing to accounts receivable, customer resource management and more. Just about any business function you can think of can be handled through cloud services.
Cost Savings – If you are starting up and can’t afford a suite of software, you have the option of paying monthly fees to a cloud-based company for the service you require. As your customer base grows, you can expand your requirements.
Accessibility and convenience – Data is accessible from any web connection. You don’t need to be in your office to access your data.
Security – Large cloud companies have greater resources and can offer levels of security that your smaller business cannot.
The main concern businesses have in moving to cloud-based operations is availability. What will happen if the cloud service goes down and you have no access to your customers’ records, email or financial data?
Here are some strategies to use to help navigate your “journey to the cloud.”
- Start out slowly with a small project or function
- Start with a trial period
- Ask your service provider questions such as:
- How is the data backed up?
- How many copies exist?
- How many different locations?
- For how long is the data retained?
- Do you offer an uptime guarantee? An uptime guarantee is the amount of time that the server is guaranteed to be up and running. Do your homework on this. An uptime of 99% sounds great but what it actually means is that your server can be down for up to 3 days / year.
- If the server does go down or data is lost, how will I be compensated?
- Who at your company has access to my data? If you go out of business or I wish to change companies, how will I obtain a usable copy of my data?
To learn more, read “10 questions every business must ask about cloud computing,” an easy to read and understand guide put together by iTeam Solutions.
With any new technology, there’s bound to be some trepidation. Take the time to learn something new, and you have a better chance of reaping the benefits and cost savings to your business.
Did you know? This week, November 15th – November 17th, is Halton Entrepreneurship Week. To celebrate, HalTech & Halton Region Small Business Centre are presenting a week of events designed to provide learning experiences and networking opportunities that will inspire and educate you, whatever stage your business is at. Check out the schedule.