Cloud-based technology has changed the way we do business in the modern world. Cloud services are enabling the workforce to become more mobile and more flexible while increasing compliance, uptime and quality of service. For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), this offering is invaluable when it comes to streamlining business operations, managing remote workers and keeping lines of communication open during the holiday season.
The leaders of SMBs face challenge of finding cloud solutions that meet their increasingly demanding needs, but at an affordable cost. These businesses require solutions that are sensitive to their more limited sizes and budgets, but that will provide the enterprise-grade features and functionality that are essential to efficient operations in the competitive business-to-business market. The good news for SMBs preparing to transition to a cloud-based system is that businesses save money in the long run. In fact, 94 percent of businesses see productivity, cost-savings and connectivity improvements after switching to the cloud, as PC World explains.
This trend has proven true for Intercommunity Action (Interact), a Philadelphia social service non-profit agency that adopted cloud-based OfficeSuite OpenXchange Email. Interact’s full-time employees were able to create virtual team spaces in which to collaborate with contract workers, while maintaining compliance with security and privacy regulations. The agency now operates more smoothly and collaboratively across its locations, gleaning more functionality and ease of use from its IT investment.
As winter approaches, businesses need to prepare for the challenges that come with the season. Inclement weather, holiday travel and seasonal illness can all take a toll on workforce productivity during winter. Last year alone, severe winter weather cost the economy $5 billion. Fortunately, with the latest and most reliable cloud technology, (no puns intended) businesses can avoid the downtime, drop in employee productivity and revenue loss so characteristic of the winter months. In fact, SMB employees are more likely than others to work from home using cloud technology during the holidays, if they have the option to do so.
Cloud services, including VoIP technology, allow businesses to effectively manage remote workers and keep the lines of communication open during storms or office closings. Hosting a business’s IT resources – such as email, data, remote desktop applications and servers – in the cloud eliminates the everyday hassle of managing these components independently. It also helps inoculate against security threats associated with less sophisticated systems.
It is important for CEOs and CTOs weighing different cloud providers to consider and prioritize their firm’s core needs and understand what each provider promises to deliver. Business leaders should look for cloud solutions providers with unique technology and solutions, as well as a proven history of industry experience. They should additionally ensure that both the provider’s service and its connections are redundant and geographically diverse. The service also should be monitored 24/7, so that business data is always protected.
Decision makers should look for cloud partners that automatically upgrade service at no additional cost, giving businesses the immediate benefit of new technology as it becomes available. Old, outdated communications systems may seem less expensive, but replacing it periodically with a new system ends up costing much more than a one-time investment in cloud technology. SMB decision makers should also look for a provider with a no-capital-investment-required business model. Being given the option to include equipment with the service, rather than being required to buy it upfront, can be vital to small businesses in their move to the cloud.
A business with fewer than 19 employees is almost 20 percent more likely to have adopted cloud technology than a company with more than 500 employees. These statistics illustrate the number of small businesses moving to the cloud and realizing their full potential, while pointing out the opportunity for medium-sized businesses to do the same. The cloud can provide full mobility, enhance overall security and reduce costs by eliminating on-site equipment and maintenance fees, allowing employees to work and collaborate from anywhere on any device.