For Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), the cloud represents a newer and far more advanced computing platform that serves to increase accessibility, efficiency and productivity. What’s more, it’s attainable at a realistic and viable cost, a notion that makes it even more palpable in the wake of tighter budgets in the business hemisphere.
But just how much money is being spent on cloud computing for business? An IDC report finds that businesses will collectively spend at least $37 billion on cloud-related services in 2016 alone.
Experts at IDC explain that cloud spending is projected to grow by a 13.1% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), climaxing at an estimated $59.5 billion by 2020. To put this into better perspective, cloud spending will account for more than 47% of IT infrastructure spending over the next five years.
The benefits of cloud computing for small business are vast. The downsides and risks are few. For these reasons, and plenty of others, it’s easy to understand why more SMBs are racing to the cloud.
As Network World explains, cloud is the third platform. The first platform was mainframe, followed by client/server and personal computers. However, the widespread accessibility of the cloud and its offerings, explain why it has easily overtaken its computing predecessors. As a result, millions of applications are now hosted and available via a growing list of cloud integrations, ranging from mobile applications, to Software as a Service (SaaS), social technology, big data and more.
One of the most advantageous offerings of cloud computing for small business is license mobility. Previously, service providers such as Microsoft, Adobe and others limited the use of their software to one computer per license. The cost of integration was steep, which in turn, limited the ability of small businesses to adapt. If, say, a user needed to access the same applications from a different computer, they had to pay for an additional user license.
With license mobility, this all changes. For example, Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based SaaS that features license mobility; so is Adobe Creative Cloud. With a single monthly subscription, users can access their applications and saved files from any connected and compatible device, and without having to pay a licensing fee per device. This makes it more financially feasible for SMBs to integrate these premier software suites.
Another one of the many benefits of cloud computing for business is access to big data. In the past, small businesses could not afford to access the same type of big data channels that enterprise level entities could. The budget simply was not there.
But as Business News Daily explains, “Big Data isn't just for big businesses with big budgets. Today, small business, too, can reap the benefits of the massive amounts of online and offline information to make wise, data-driven decisions to grow their businesses.”
A growing list of big data providers offer affordable access to their data troves for businesses of all sizes. Leading the pack are service providers to the likes of ClearStory Data, KissMetrics, InsightSquared and others. While cost used to be a big barrier, it only represents 23% of the long-term cost risks today. As a Forbes publication explains, businesses that adopt to big data and cloud grow 53% faster than those that do not.
In a computing world where Forbes says that 54% of a business’ security budget is allocated to security plans, the cloud offers enhanced peace of mind. While a system is only as secure as its weakest link, the cloud is considered to be more secure than any of the IT systems that have preceded it.
According to Search Cloud Computing, “Systems built without the same rigor around security won't be as secure, whether they are cloud or not. So, the best practice here is to focus on a well-defined and executed security strategy with the right enabling technology. Don't focus as much on the platform.”
So while the cloud may be a more accessible system, it doesn’t mean it can’t be more secure. At the core are controllable privilege and user access levels, which can be monitored by system administrators. Accessibility has the propensity to increase security risks, but the cloud does offer a higher level of control, which serves to mitigate these risks.
The greatest benefits of small business cloud computing are threefold. These include: Improved collaboration, efficiency and accountability. Since the cloud is accessible from anywhere at any time, employees collaboration has become easier, even if they are working from across the nation or from different countries.
With the newer cloud-hosted Project Management Systems (PMS), accountability is easily tracked. Then, of course, there’s the efficiency aspect. Users have the ability to log in to the cloud at their convenience, and are able to pick up right where they left off and continue projects. This ease of access and collaboration is unprecedented in computing. It serves as an exciting accolade, and makes us wonder what will come next.
Insight partners with the leading providers of cloud computing for small business, enabling us to deliver an array of industry leading solutions. Find your place in the cloud today. Talk to one of our specialists to learn your options.