The cloud has dramatically reduced or, in many cases, eliminated many of the barriers to entry for obtaining IT services, especially for small businesses. Organisations can start up and run businesses with powerful IT capabilities that were previously only affordable to large companies. The barriers for entry are now so low that even the smallest business can benefit from the cloud.
Before the advent of cloud computing, businesses had to buy and maintain expensive IT hardware and software to run operations. If you needed to expand, you had to buy more; if you needed to contract you were stuck with a very expensive door-stop. If you wanted to move you had to take all of your IT with you.
Moreover, you had to upgrade every 3 to 5 years because hardware components would wear out or software versions would become obsolete – and, of course, you had to carry the cost of an IT expert to keep it all running. Smaller businesses usually struggled along with old equipment, often maintained by non-expert staff stepping out of another role in the business. So while IT provided significant capability benefits, for most small businesses it was also a burden.
The cloud not only enhances the power of existing IT capabilities, it also offers newer one. It allows us to run software applications on a scale previously unfathomable to small businesses and enables us to store and analyse huge amounts of data. It also allows us to share that volume of data over high speed communication lines very quickly.
Many small businesses have adopted the cloud, and are capitalising on the capabilities and economies of scale to streamline operations, attract customers and increase sales. They are driving up business innovations and efficiencies and driving down costs.
The real value of the cloud is that you can use it to dramatically enhance your business communications, productivity, marketing, sales and growth. You should regard the cloud as a mechanism for improving the way you do business today, and as a foundation for the way you will do business in the future.
The reality is that Cloud computing has become the new norm for small businesses and leveraging cloud-based services is now essential to stay abreast and get ahead of competition – or get left behind.