Cloud for Small Businesses — Challenges and Opportunities

The implications of the cloud for small businesses are different for individuals or larger companies.  Although “digital transformation” has been a buzzword amongst organizations of all sizes since 2011, when the term was first coined by MIT consulting firm Cap Gemini , the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based productivity and collaboration technologies a hundred fold.

This sentiment is echoed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella , who said just a few months into the pandemic: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security—we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.”

The accelerated adoption of cloud-based technologies — which, according to Gartner , is anticipated to grow 18.4% in 2021 to a whopping $304.9 billion dollars spent — is replete with challenges and opportunities for SMBs. The days when files were painstakingly disseminated through email are quickly giving way to a new era, in which cloud software is used to simplify communications both internally and between companies and their customers.

The Challenges of Digitization

Although Covid-19 has catalyzed the movement towards digitized business processes, the transition from location-dependent technologies to cloud-based ones is hardly straightforward.

For starters, cloud computing opens up entirely new ways of working, since data and applications are stored decentrally and no longer require the presence of employees onsite. However, many SMBs — particularly those that have been around for a decade or more — have well-defined company cultures and business practices that are predicated upon in-person interactions.

Secondly, as the world turns towards digitization — creating the opportunity for remote work arrangements — stay-at-home offices are dependent upon internet connections that were never designed to handle the high volume of activity they now endure.

Thirdly, security and confidentiality are paramount to businesses. As such, some businesses remain resistant to the cloud’s considerable advantages due to lingering concerns about data security in cloud computing — including compliance violations, identity theft, malware infections and data breaches, and (as an end result) diminished customer trust and potential loss of revenue.

That loss of revenue is of particular concern to SMBs, who also worry about the price tag associated with making the switch to cloud computing.

But for those who are attempting to weight the advantages and disadvantages of using the cloud, you’ll need to consider more factors than just the initial price of digitizing.

Once you’re on the cloud, easy access to your company’s data will save time and money. Furthermore, most cloud computing services are “pay-as-you-go,” meaning that if you don’t take advantage of what the cloud has to offer, you won’t have to drop money on it.

The Opportunities of Digitization

Beyond long-term cost savings associated with digitization, cloud-based technologies are — despite the concerns of many SMBs — more secure than their location-dependent kin .

For one thing, a cloud host’s full-time job is to carefully monitor security — which is also significantly more cost efficient than a conventional system, where an organization must allocate its resources towards in-house IT security management.

Secondly, while there is a concern that company cultures — and the innovations those cultures generate — will erode without “water cooler” interactions between employees, the data collected indicates the opposite: That companies are more efficient and collaborative using cloud technologies to communicate than they are using conventional methods. Team members can view and share information easily and securely across a cloud-based platform.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it has become clear that data — in itself — is extremely valuable. Concealed within the millions of bits of data that surround your business’s operations are nuggets of invaluable, actionable information. Many cloud-based solutions offer integrated cloud analytics for a top-down view of your data. With your information stored on the cloud, you can easily implement tracking mechanisms and build customized reports to analyze information — organization wide!

Final Thoughts

Cloud-based technologies support organizational productivity and communications, both internally and between your employees and customers. The journey to the cloud is even more important for businesses today as we face the unprecedented operational impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Reach out today  to discuss cloud-based digital solutions with one of our experts.