Today’s technology landscape is moving ahead at lightning speed, and failing to keep up means possibly giving up a competitive edge. For small to medium-sized businesses without vast amounts of IT and financial resources, the speed of change and adoption can feel intimidating. Luckily, there’s something that can help small businesses work past these constraints, adapt quickly to new tech and stay flexible in the face of new IT adoption: the cloud.
The cloud already gained popularity with small and large businesses alike. In fact, at the start of the year, the SMB Group tapped cloud as the number one trend for small businesses, touting it as the top platform for digital transformation.
“Flexibility, cost, ease of use and speedy deployment will continue to fuel SMB adoption of cloud solutions, but the cloud has also become the backbone that enables SMBs to take advantage of new technologies — such as AI and machine learning, IoT, blockchain and virtual and augmented reality — needed to sustain and grow their businesses,” the group noted in a presentation announcing the top 2018 trends.
So what advantages does the cloud offer small businesses specifically? When security concerns are quelled, flexibility as well as a better use of data and applications are on the roster for small businesses.
Cloud Bolsters Data and Applications Use for SMBs
Data, data everywhere — but is your company interpreting and using it correctly? Likely not, even though data can give your business insights into your customers and an overall strategic advantage.
Here is where the cloud can step in, according to the SMB Group:
Cloud providers can aggregate massive quantities of data in one place, and apply rules, algorithms, learning and other technologies to this data. As a result, they offer resource-constrained SMBs the economies of skill and scale and the skill required to use technology to meet new market demands, improve business results, and reshape their businesses to keep pace with a changing competitive landscape.
When it comes to using emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and blockchain, cloud application providers are injecting their services to SMBs with these technologies, granting the SMBs access to these capabilities without requiring them to start from scratch, notes SMB Group’s cofounder and partner Laurie McCabe in an accompanying report. (McCabe made our must-read IT blogger list.)
“Instead of having to learn about, evaluate, select and purchase new technology solutions on your own, you get automatic access to them through the solutions you already use every day. You get the benefits of new technology minus the heavy lifting — enabling you to more easily and effectively take advantage of the technology you need to grow your business,” McCabe notes in the report.
Security Proves Paramount to Successful SMB Cloud Adoption
Cloud is coming, and businesses certainly can’t ignore it. In fact, according to a Microsoft SMB study, by 2020, 78 percent of small businesses will be taking advantage of cloud computing.
In order for SMBs to properly and fully adopt the cloud, they need to feel secure.
As with any new technology, it’s important to formulate a security plan around cloud, John Ewing, principal security solutions architect for CDW, explains in a recent blog post.
“Your organization should have an internal security policy that you can easily adjust and modify for cloud enforcement. This includes who has access, what type of data can reside where and in what condition (e.g., encrypted, not encrypted, etc.),” Ewing notes.
The good news is that the cloud itself can help build a more secure business. According to the Microsoft SMB study, 94 percent of small businesses report security benefits after moving to the cloud.
So, while it’s natural to want to put off picking up new tools and technologies in favor of the trusted ones, cloud adoption is one technology that can benefit small businesses — not just now, but for years to come.