Ultimately, the cloud is the latest example of Schumpeterian creative destruction: creating wealth for those who exploit it; and leading to the demise of those that don’t." — Joe Weinman.
Hailed as ‘modern day electricity’, cloud technology is revolutionizing the face of business, offering innumerable opportunities to enterprises who desire to optimize their resources. As the term suggests, ‘Cloud Computing’ involves the combined use of the internet and computers to create, manage, and store data on the ‘cloud’, eliminating the need to conduct these activities via physical hard drives. But what started out as an experimental technology for data storage has quickly morphed into a thriving industry offering a myriad of computing-related solutions.
So how do SMEs’ benefit from adopting cloud computing?
Well, primarily it’s an economic necessity—with cloud deployment services, small businesses don’t have to invest in expensive onsite computer facilities or IT expertise. The advantages of data storage, zero downtime, security, latest software use, CRM management, and an on-demand model means substantial saving of time, effort, and money—empowering small businesses to grow rapidly. Instead of having to constantly upgrade traditional IT infrastructure capabilities, cloud technology provides updated access that is ideal for growing businesses.
Versatility: Cloud providers offer a range of information deployment products such as remote storage and development platforms. Vendors offer services including Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Software-as-a-service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and Database-as-a-service (DBaaS). In addition, based on specific IT needs, a business could choose to use a public, private, or hybrid cloud. Usually, to start, SMEs opt to use the cost-effective public cloud.
Scalability: Cloud-hosted infrastructure follows a pay-per-use, on-demand model wherein the users get quick and automatic access to desired IT resources in a cost-effective manner. Businesses need to pay only for the utilized server load, support, or expertise, thus affording an optimized solution in terms of resource management.
Productivity: Collaborative work environments have gained increasing significance with cloud-based office systems. Moving away from traditional project activities which involved emailing files back and forth, IaaS services allow for real-time access across multiple locations and devices. The ability of employees to work simultaneously not only saves time but enhances efficiency for SMEs.
Brick-and-mortar savings: Thanks to cloud technology, having to setup location-dependent workspaces is unnecessary, which again translates to significant cost-savings. With greater convenience by way of telecommuting, employees are allowed the necessary support and flexibility to work remotely.
Enhanced Security and Privacy: Small businesses tend to have concerns regarding security, but data stored on the cloud is known to be a better alternative to traditional means, especially in the event of natural disasters, system breakdown or any other crisis. Real-time data backups on the cloud offer a superior defense against security threats that are evolving at a pace far quicker than a small business is equipped for in terms of critical infrastructure and IT skills.
Big Data: The increasing popularity of big data in decision-making has led many cloud providers to offer big data analytic services. The importance of accessing big data can no longer be ignored by small companies either, since it provides a better CRM tool, assisting in building market strategy and customized solutions for their target audience. By using cloud user-friendly interfaces like DBaaS, SMEs circumvent the technical challenges and costs associated with processing large quantities of information.
Does the cloud-fueled evolution affect the future of SMEs?
Yes! These advantages, though seemingly small, are key to success in the marketplace, more so for small businesses. SMEs make up a major segment of the global economy, which is why cloud providers are continuously working towards providing diversified products, greater security, and legal certainties regarding privacy for them. Thus, in the days to come, cloud technology will offer improved reliability and innovation, empowering SMEs to focus on their core competencies.
By Priya Dronadula, VP-IT of Sodexo BRS India.