You hear people talk about the cloud all the time, but do you understand what it is? Think of the cloud as a balloon of data and information that is stored somewhere other than your hard drive or on-premises server. Because your information is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, the cloud makes it easier for you to build new relationships with clients, connect with them remotely, share data with them and safely store your data. Because the cloud model works like a service instead of a product, you can scale how much you use and pay for as your needs increase and decrease.
According to a 2015 article in Forbes, 78 percent of U.S. small businesses will fully adopt cloud computing by 2020, more than doubling the 37 percent who were doing so in 2015. The cloud also makes it possible to run a majority of your business from your phone if you’re using the right apps.
So, What is the Cloud?
You’re already familiar with what the cloud is and does, even if you aren’t thinking about it. If you store your pictures and files on Google Drive, iCloud or Skydrive, you use the cloud. If you have participated in a meeting using Skype, Webex or Google Hangouts, you’ve used the cloud, too. But what else do you need to know about the cloud for your business?
First, most businesses either use a public or private cloud. A public cloud allows customers and clients to interface with your business. A great example of this is when you use a web form to receive customers’ addresses. When they input their addresses, they’re stored on a public cloud. Skydrive and Google Drive are examples of a public cloud.
A private cloud is typically used for larger businesses that have grown enough to need licenses for multiple users, servers and IT infrastructure that need to be stored in-house or on bigger servers. In this case, the network and servers can be hosted elsewhere, such as through companies like Rackspace. Think of these companies as an off-site IT department. Each employee desktop runs a cloud interface software that works with the applications your company uses.
How Do Cloud Services Enable Mobile Business?
Cloud computing enables you to run a mobile business. It gives you the ability to access data and information from any device and be more agile to respond to customer demands. For instance, if you need to collaborate with a client on a project, you can share documents through the cloud and work together from different locations on any device. You also can build a company app that your customers can download to their phone to receive on-the-go service. For example, your app could enable them to schedule appointments, get information about your products or interact with your customer service department.
In addition to engaging your customers, cloud computing can help you run your business. There are apps and tools for business tasks, such as note taking, accounting, account management and file storage. By keeping important tasks and documents in the cloud, you can access them even when you’re out of the office, making you more agile and efficient.