Cloud computing is revolutionizing how businesses of all sizes operate, including small ones. Many companies have transitioned a significant amount or even all of their backend operations and bookkeeping to the cloud, with fantastic results. Learning about this exciting technology is the first step toward a more secure, straightforward and accessible system.
What Is the Cloud?
To put it simply, running your business in the cloud means you’re using services and software that run online, rather than locally. The cloud allows you to access your company’s data through the internet, often using familiar browsers such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing
Accessing software and data by connecting to the internet drastically reduces the need for onsite servers, storage drives and other hardware. Additionally, storing your company’s pertinent computer data in the cloud means that authorized employees can access it from virtually anywhere. The result is that you’re spending significantly less money on equipment and maintenance, while simultaneously streamlining your office and making everything more accessible.
Cloud computing is typically more secure than traditional onsite data storage and software applications. Not only is your data securely encrypted and protected, but your servers, storage drives, and computers are no longer susceptible to data loss due to physical corruption. If you spill coffee on your laptop, you don’t have to worry about your important documents being lost, as they can be recovered from any other device with internet access.
Running your systems in the cloud also encourages collaboration among your employees. When you save files, anyone with proper credentials can access the master document and work on it as needed. This improves communication between departments and branches and helps create a more team-oriented atmosphere. In short, migrating to the cloud keeps everyone on the same page.
Common Cloud Services
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to cloud computing for small businesses. There are many options, and what works for one company may not be ideal for another. One of the most universally useful services is a cloud storage system. Most small businesses store and backup their important data such as sales records, customer information and bookkeeping on a local server or some other sort of hardware. Cloud storage accomplishes the exact same thing, only the data is stored and backed up online instead of locally. If data loss should occur, recovering it is fast and easy.
Running a cloud-based point-of-sale system is another popular approach, especially for retailers and restaurants. Unlike traditional cash registers and computer-based systems, a cloud-based POS provides immediate centralization of all information, allowing employees to check prices, look up records and work across multiple devices.
A cloud-based customer relationship management system can make storing and accessing client/customer information much easier. For example, when the database is centralized, a salesperson can immediately input customer information into the CRM system as soon as that sale is logged. If the customer calls or sends an email, another salesperson can access that record to provide optimal customer service. Some cloud-based CRM systems even incorporate social features that allow employees and customers to communicate more efficiently.
Research Your Options
Before implementing cloud solutions in your small business, spend some time reviewing your options. These days, the market is saturated with cloud software and services, and not all of them are equal. Put in your due diligence to find the right cloud-based services for your business, and enjoy lower costs, improved security and streamlined operations with a low initial investment.