For those who don’t know what the cloud is, it’s simple – it’s just someone else’s computer system, housed in a datacentre or datacentres – and you connect to it via an internet connection, in theory from anywhere.
Here are my top 7 myth-busting facts as to why your business should be considering using or expanding cloud use TODAY.
1. It’s secure. Very secure.
I’ve listed this first because putting all your data into the cloud gives some people an uncomfortable feeling. They’d prefer to keep it on their devices or network, trusting their own security over the cloud provider. Unfortunately, the lack of security in the cloud is one of the biggest myth’s out there.
Business cloud providers have a very good reason to keep your data secure. Whether it’s a regulatory requirement or they just want to keep their customers happy, you can be assured your data is typically much safer in the cloud than on your own equipment.
Data is usually held in one or more datacentres close to your geographic location and will be kept in an encrypted format, its also transmitted between you and the cloud provider using encryption technologies.
Data can only be accessed using your login or that of an authorised third party (i.e. someone you approved to share data with)
Logins can be protected with Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication (also known as 2FA or MFA). This means that even if someone cracks one of your employee’s passwords, the login is protected by needing a code number from the user’s mobile phone – either via an app or SMS text message. Used extensively with online banking services, you can enable these features on cloud services and even mandate that your entire team must use them.
Your cloud data is backed up constantly, so if the cloud provider should have a disaster you can get it back. Additional layers of backup can also be provisioned automatically should you have a disaster (like ransomware), an accident (such as deleting an important file or folder) or even suffer at the hands of a rogue employee.
2. Low start-up cost.
Even for established SME businesses, adopting the cloud can have a very low startup cost. It’s a myth that the cloud is necessarily cheaper in the long term, but when you factor in upgrade costs and support, it can be so.
Because cloud services and applications are paid for monthly, there is rarely any capital expenditure involved. In these challenging financial times, not having to part with cash upfront can make a huge difference to your cashflow. Many businesses (although not all) prefer operational expenses to capital ones but for those looking to spend annually rather than monthly, many cloud providers offer discounts for pre-payment annually in advance.
Lower costs are also possible due to the fact that many cloud services are licensed per active user or resource. This enables businesses to only pay for what they use, but more importantly, gives them great flexibility if they change the size of their workforce regularly. Whether you’re a seasonal business, a business that’s growing or even reducing your workforce to match demand, the monthly nature of cloud service licensing means you don’t have to pay for something you are not using.
Just as costs can be controlled by matching your licensing to your employee base, services can be introduced or turned off on demand.
As your business grows, you can add facilities such as product features or even additional server capacity, often at the click of a mouse.
The rapid provisioning of cloud services is one reason why they are becoming so popular. You no longer have to order a server and wait for it to be installed (something that can often take weeks or even months) or worse, have to go through painful data migration from one system to another.
4. More reliability
There are some myths that Cloud services are less reliable. These stem from the fact that when there is an outage, it tends to get publicity. No news channel is going to report that SME Ltd had their file server offline for a week due to a dodgy update or another disaster. However, the impact on your business of a 30-minute cloud outage compared to being without your systems for a week is quite different.
In contrast, cloud service providers run their services on the newest equipment with multiple, redundant components. If something fails, there is a very good chance you’ll not even notice. To replicate that level of protection in a small business is virtually impossible and most definitely cost-prohibitive.
With the providers operating multiple datacentres as well, upgrades are rolled out slowly across their estate so that if something goes wrong, very few customers are affected. Contrast that to a traditional business IT system where everyone is affected in one go.
With the exception of the staggered roll-out of updates, reliability also comes from the fact that the systems are “always up to date”. When a security vulnerability is likely or detected, the cloud provider can protect all their customers at once.
In summary, the cloud is going to be way more reliable than a home-grown solution resulting in systems that are available to you 24/7. Cloud services are becoming as reliable as the electricity supply with very little downtime and many of the risks you may face at present removed.
Let’s face it, today’s business world is changing rapidly. People need to be able to work anywhere, at any time. Not only do they not want to come into an office every day, but for certain roles having people on the move or working from home is a positive advantage.
Whether their job-role entails them being out meeting customers or you want to offer flexibility in order to hire the best talent, providing IT and communication systems that are accessible anywhere is a must for the modern, agile business.
Providing these facilities in-house is a nightmare. Apart from the security risks, legacy technologies such as Virtual Private Networks (akin to the days of “dial-up”), file sync or remote PC access is just unreliable and will often let you down when you need it most.
On the other hand, cloud-stored data and provided apps mean you can work virtually anywhere and with many also offline access as well, even working when truly mobile, such as on a train, becomes a norm and not a novelty.
Many of these cloud solutions also offer an “any device” approach, so you can write a detailed proposal on your laptop while on a train for example but then send it from your mobile phone with a companion app when you arrive at your destination.
This any device approach also extends to communications as well. While it’s comforting to have a phone on your desk, being chained to that phone is no longer fit for purpose. Converging cloud services with these communications systems means that you can, for example, have your phone extension on your mobile phone, even without the use of app requiring a good WiFi connection. Integration of data and voice networks means that even the smaller business or larger business with a spread workforce can operate as though everyone is in the office, even though no one is.
This also leads to a better experience for your customers. Imagine a remote worker or member of field staff calling a customer from their mobile, but instead of their mobile number being presented, one of the businesses fixed-line numbers are displayed to the customer.
When the customer calls back the presented fixed-line number, their call will enter the cloud phone system and be routed according to your wishes. Is may go back initially to the field / remote worker, but if they can’t take the call a colleague would be able to help. This leads to a much better experience for your customers and a much more professional image being presented, all while keeping costs down and improving efficiency.
6. Increased collaboration
With legacy IT systems, data was often “siloed” in a department but with cloud, useful information can be viewed across your entire business. Here are just three example scenarios that are all possible thanks to the cloud:
I) Imagine a customer service representative being able to see notes from a salesperson’s visit in real-time, helping the customer who called back an hour later with a question.
II) A helpdesk team member being able to live chat with an internal or external technical specialist while on a call with a customer, to resolve a customer issue the first time.
III) Two members of your team working live and collaborating, on a document, at the same time, even if they are in different locations. Not only are they able to edit the document simultaneously, but they can also screen share and video chat at the same time.
7. No in-house tech skills needed.
While a few years ago you needed in-house tech skills, whether that was an in-house IT department or just the CFO’s nephew, many cloud solutions need little in the way of in-house tech.
Of course, you may need to speak with an expert about WHICH cloud services are right for your business and engage them when it comes to deploying those services. If you feel this approach would help you, please contact me.
For larger businesses, that money is best redeployed having an information officer who understands your business and it’s future requirements so that you can leverage the cloud solutions to deliver and help grow your business, reduce costs, increase efficiency or all three.
Smaller SME’s on the other hand often don’t have technical skills in-house anyway, so the choice to use cloud services not only relieves the burden of supporting “legacy” IT systems but also enables your business to leverage systems that were traditionally only available to larger enterprise businesses.
Of course, you may still need support in your cloud journey, but by choosing a certified cloud provider such as SCA Group who have the skills and knowledge necessary, you’ll get the best solution for your team and ensure you have the necessary tech know-how on hand without the expense or disadvantages of a permanent or even part-time employee/employees.
Adopting cloud services, whether as a new solution or to replace existing legacy systems is now becoming an imperative for a business that wants to grow and stay agile in today’s modern business world, with its modern working practices. If you would like to know more about how you take the first steps or even leverage what you may have already deployed, then please reach out to me and let’s have a chat. A good cloud specialist will look at what your business is trying to achieve but also use their experience to identify ways in which you could be working smarter and better.