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 In Technology

New technology is continually changing and shaping how we do business, allowing small businesses to be more efficient than ever before. Among these technologies is cloud computing. Here, we explore what cloud computing is and how it can help you grow your business.

What is ‘the cloud’?

Many businesses once stored their apps, data and information on computer hard drives, back ups and servers. However in recent years, businesses have embraced cloud technology (often referred to as ‘the cloud’).

Put simply, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and software programs over the internet instead of from a hard drive on your computer.

The cloud’s simplicity, efficiency and ease of use have seen it become a popular option for businesses of all sizes, particularly small businesses.

The benefits of cloud computing

There are plenty of benefits to using the cloud in your business. The main benefits are lower costs and greater efficiency for your team. 

It saves you money:

While there are costs involved in using the cloud computing (depending on your provider and level of plan/usage), they’re much less than the cost of buying local devices and expensive IT equipment like servers and back-up drives.  

The cost of system upgrades is usually included as part of the service, and you don’t need to pay for IT staff. Plus, your electricity bill should be reduced if you don’t have to pay for a special environment on site for servers and other hardware.

There are various free cloud services on offer like GoogleDrive, and these options are perfect for small businesses just starting to grow.

It’s collaborative:

You get the ability to edit shared files that are synced and up-to-date. This means staff can access projects and work on them together in real time. It’s easier to share information with others, like suppliers or your accountant.

Easy to upgrade:

Before the cloud, upgrading your IT equipment meant an outlay of time, money and resources. Now, if you need more server space, additional services, or to add a new staff member you can upgrade quickly and easily and usually 100% online. 

You also get the benefit of improved backups and restoration if required. So, instead of remembering to take a backup every night and take it offsite, this is all taken care of for you!

It’s flexible:

Whether you’re catching up on work after hours at home, checking the status of a project mid-commute or working remotely, the cloud makes this easy. Use your smartphone or computer on the move anywhere, anytime. All you need is an internet connection. For time poor business owners, this means increasing your efficiency and making it easier to stay on top of things.

How to choose:

Choosing the best cloud technology for your business will depend on various factors:

  • The amount of your data
  • The level of security you need
  • The operating system
  • Any legal requirements you have around privacy or security
  • Your budget (some cloud providers offer free entry level plans)
  • The features that best complement your business needs.  

 

Some of the most popular cloud technology providers include Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Box.com.

To choose the right provider, start by creating a shortlist of your requirements.

Next, do your research. Look for a cloud service provider who has the right levels of redundancy and backup, disaster recovery, and service availability to meet your requirements.  It pays to talk to other small business owners who have experience with specific cloud options, and maybe read through some online tech forums. Finally, it’s time to trial your chosen cloud technology. Ensure that you monitor staff feedback make note of any obstacles before committing to a single cloud solution.

If you’re looking to grow your business and need extra funds to do it, talk to Prospa about how we can help you meet your business finance needs.

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