Juggling tasks to keep operations humming used to mean long hours in the office for small business owners. This is no longer the case with the emergence of the cloud technology.
The rise of the cloud
Many entrepreneurs are aware that the global retail market for cloud is booming, accelerating from US $4.2 billion in 2011 to US $15.1 billion in 2015. The technology is essentially a service delivery model that allows you to access data and software packages using the internet. Your data gets stored in remote servers in ‘the cloud’ and can be accessed from any place with online connectivity. In India, organizational adoption of the cloud is on the rise. It’s easy to see why when you consider the benefits for small businesses. However, there are also some disadvantages to the world of cloud. Here are some pros and cons of using cloud technology.
Pro #1: Accessibility
While traditional software is tied to a single PC, cloud tools give entrepreneurs unparalleled freedom to work from anywhere they choose, as long as an internet connection is available. In today’s always-online world, such places aren’t hard to find. For example, co-founder of Skinnydip London, Lewis Blitz, tracked the progress of his startup using the cloud while holidaying in Mexico. “I was able to access the sales figures and check stock levels all at the touch of the button…” he told the BBC. Cloud tools can also be used across multiple devices, including smartphones. Some solutions such as QuickBooks allow you to sync devices easily – a few taps on your mobile, and you can pull up current sales figures to impress clients even when you’re on the road.
Pro #2: Economical
For small businesses, one of the top attractions of cloud software is the price. Most services are available pay-as-you-go. As Deloitte points out, this economical pricing structure, among other reasons, is what enables small businesses to adopt advanced technology much earlier in their stage of development. It’s also why cloud services are becoming a popular substitute for expensive IT infrastructure.
Pro #3: A recipe for growth
Ambitious entrepreneurs are drawn to the fact cloud technology can supercharge growth. An overwhelming 85% cent of small businesses surveyed by Deloitte believe cloud tools enable them to grow faster, helping them to overcome barriers to scale and flexibility challenges. Gaining global reach is also much easier. Wetsuit Outlet co-founder Ian Homan told the BBC that cloud technology was instrumental in transforming his sports clothing business into a global retailer, powering everything “from sourcing products and advising customers through to dispatching goods to them”.
Con #1: Internet dependent
The main downside to using cloud technology is the need for an internet connection, which isn’t available in many remote areas in India. In other places where it exists, the network might also not be stable. In 2015, India slipped in the United Nations’ global rankings on broadband penetration, falling from 125 to 131 out of 189 countries for fixed-broadband subscriptions. However, the future looks bright, thanks to the government’s Digital India program. More businesses are expected to adopt cloud software as internet coverage in the country widens. Con #2: Variable quality Another concern relates to the fact that cloud tools can be built relatively cheaply in India. This means many companies can jump on the bandwagon and develop applications of varying quality. This may make it harder to weed out the good applications from the bad. When exploring cloud services, it’s critical to research and opt for trusted providers. Cloud technology continues to boom. As more businesses are sold on the benefits of anytime, anywhere work, this technology is already building foundations for rapid growth. The next step is to determine how these tools could fuel your growth plans and how to work around their disadvantages. You can begin by assessing your company’s digital maturity and researching cloud software that can assist with your key processes.