Get your Head in the Clouds!

Cloud provider app Not sure what Cloud computing is?

You’re probably already using it without realising.

Have a look at this fabulous INFOGRAPHIC from Salesforce.com.

Meteoric Rise  of Cloud Technology

In June 2011 the CBI/Harvey Nash employment trends survey stated that more and more employees were leaving behind the typical 9-5 working day and were embracing more flexible working options.  In 1999 the Blackberry was launched, which enabled emails to be picked up and sent on the go.  Then came along  the iPhone, smartphones and tablets.

The following 14 years saw an explosion of devices and applications which made remote working increasingly possible and popular.

So What are the Benefits for SMEs?

  • Outsource your IT;
  • Financial savings;
  • Access to the latest high-tech software at a greatly reduced cost;
  • Collaborative working options & better communications;
  • Safe data storage.

Delegate your IT

Fluid Web Works pointed out recently that one of the main advantages of Cloud technology is the ability to hand over all IT operations to a provider,

Many small businesses will not have the time or resources to manage their IT infrastructure in-house.  For many businesses, a cloud IT option can offer a solution for those that don’t have this resource to hand.

Great!  You don’t have that nagging concern about what you’ll do if you run into IT difficulties because it’s somebody else’s problem now, and that somebody can call on highly experienced IT technologists to ensure the smooth running of their service.

SMEs now have available to them top of the range IT services which, previously, they might not have had the funds to afford.  Salesforce.com was quick to point out,

The Cloud grants SMEs access to enterprise-class technology.  It also allows small businesses to act faster than big, established competitors.

Save your Business Money

The majority of Cloud services charge a monthly fee which often varies according to the size of your business and how many employees will be utilising the service.  If you’re a solepreneur working on your own you’ll sometimes have access to top of the range services for as little as £5.00 per month, which is fabulously cost-effective.

There is very often a free month’s trial offered so that you can have a ‘test drive’ before signing up for the service.  If you do this make sure you diarise when the trial ends if you intend to opt out!

These services are also scalable so that if your business suddenly grows you can simply pay for an upgrade.  The more you pay, the more attractive the service becomes with bonus add-ons.

High-Tech Software

You’ll always have access to the latest and most up-to-date version of your Cloud service, which saves you the expense of having to regularly update the software on your PC or laptop after a relatively short period of time.

Collaborative Working

To respond to the growth in remote working, applications like DropBox, Hightail and Evernote were developed to solve the problem of sharing files and information.

Gone are the days when you had to zip large files and attach them to an email in order to transfer them to somebody else.  Have you ever attached a large file to an email, sat and watched the egg-timer turning over and over, hoping that the email will eventually transfer to your Outbox?  How many times has this NOT happened and you’ve had to press CTRL+ALT+DEL to start the process all over again?

Cloud apps like DropBox and Hightail have put an end to these shenanigans!

Should a team of workers need to work on a specific document simultaneously, whether team members are all all based in the office or are working in different locations, Evernote ‘Minutes’ will update each amendment and annotation in real time.  This is a pretty handy and time-saving tool to have and ensures  you don’t end up with multiple versions of the same document.   I wrote a blog post about Evernote ‘Minutes’ a short while ago so please do have a look.

Accessibility

Having a Cloud based service enables you to create and log into your account from any laptop, tablet or smart phone, wherever you are and have access to all your stored information.  As your information isn’t stored locally you won’t lose all your data if your laptop is unfortunately stolen or damaged  beyond repair.

One word of warning, make a careful note of your login details for each Cloud account you create!

One Fly in the Ointment

Security is one of the big issues that still gives some cause for concern.  If you’re handing over all your confidential business information, documentation, telephone numbers, email addresses to a third party, how can you make sure that it’s safe?

I don’t think any laptop, PC, tablet or smart phone is 100% secure but, when researching Cloud options, make sure you consider whether a company is well-known, for instance, and whether they have a good service history.  Do your research carefully.

When it comes to looking at Cloud IT services, make sure a provider has a Legal Service Agreement.  Comprehensive details about this, other legal requirements and a free IT Support Agreement can be found on The IT Donut’s website.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please let me know and please feel free to share with your friends.

Thanks!

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