The cloud is a mysterious thing to most business owners. What is it? Should you be afraid? Or could it bring extreme opportunity to your business?
First and foremost, let’s define the cloud without technical jargon, in normal words and without making it sound like it is going to submerge from the ocean and fly to the moon (piloted by Steve Jobs, obviously).
The cloud simply put is a term used for replacing “installed software” with “Internet based applications” that run on any computer, anywhere, provided it has an Internet connection. Your files and data are stored on an Internet server rather than the physical hard-drive inside your computer.
Example: Think of files and folders on your computer, think of installed email programs such as Microsoft Outlook. Those files and emails can only be accessed by somebody using that computer. If all of that was run on cloud-based applications it could be accessed by anybody, anywhere provided they had the login, password, computer and an Internet connection.
So what’s the point? Well the cloud has many advantages.
1. Cost. Setting up email, file sharing, servers and websites has never been cheaper.
2. Productivity. Running your business effectively on cloud-based applications can increase productivity immensely. Employees can collaborate, share, manage customers and communicate like never before.
3. Mobility. Employees can access anything from anywhere. Sales rep out on the road? Cloud based customer relationship management (CRM) software in his pocket makes him more productive and more likely to close sales for your business.
4. Security. Imagine if your office building burned down tonight. Imagine if your business was in Christchurch during the recent earthquake. Imagine if all of your records, your clients and contracts were destroyed. Well if everything was in the cloud you could rent out a new office tomorrow, get your employees to bring in their personal laptops and you would be back in business just like that.
The cloud brings the above advantages and many, many more. These advantages can cut costs, improve productivity and increase sales. These advantages drive commercial results for any business, they drive revenues and profits.
By Sam Ovens.