Our team has been using cloud tech for quite some time now. We use it for everyday things like team collaboration, time tracking, customer invoicing, payroll and accounts receivable, project management, customer service, inventory tracking for our clients and data backup for our business. The rise of the cloud has created the opportunity for businesses to achieve big leaps in productivity, helping save both time and money. When it comes to many of the things we use cloud technology today for in our own small business, I can’t imagine ever going back to the old school way of doing things. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using cloud and how that might apply to you and your business.
Security: Data Back-up and Redundancy
One of the biggest problems of handling digital data is the issue of back up. It’s all too easy to accidently hit that delete button and your one and only copy of an important file might well be gone forever. Hard drives and USB keys aren’t indestructible – they can easily fail and frequently do. If the only copy of your data happens to be on one of those devices, you’re out of luck.
The biggest advantage of using cloud-based tools in business is the ability to easily back-up all your important data offsite. While having an onsite back-up, such as a portable hard drive, is valuable; if it’s kept right next to your computer and there’s a fire, not only is your original data gone, your back-up is toast as well.
Cloud back-up services such as Dropbox and Google Drive are excellent and cost effective tools to back-up files. Other archival services such as Carbonite and BackBlaze provide the ability to automatically back-up all the files on your computer passively in the background. I especially love this type of service, since it doesn’t require any action on my part – it just happens automagically. After the initial upload, these services also constantly search for any updated files and upload the changes automatically, keeping everything in sync and up-to-date. For anyone who’s ever lived through any kind of data disaster this is a very inexpensive data insurance policy that you’ll be glad you put in place should disaster lightning strike twice.
Flexibility: Your Files are Available Everywhere
Along with data back up and redundancy, the cloud offers a ton of workflow flexibility. No longer is your data trapped on your office computer. Through cloud-based apps like Dropbox for storage or Freshbooks for accounting, you can get to and interact with your data not only on all your devices, but on any device or computer, anywhere. Many of these solutions are fully cross platform too. It doesn’t matter if you’re an iPhone user or Windows is your thing; by taking advantage of the cloud, you can access your information or documents quickly and easily, no matter where you are.
Productivity: Easy Collaboration With Your Team Members
Technology and the Internet of Things has made it possible to work form anywhere and with teams of people not necessarily in the same physical location. We live this on a daily basis, as our entire team is virtual, with many of us not even living on the same continent! Using the cloud to collaborate with my team in real time has significantly increased our overall productivity. Apps like Asana make it easy for us to manage projects and track team milestones and accomplishments from any of our connected devices. Team members can keep one another updated instantly and deal with any issues or concerns right away, from a single online hub. This has enabled us to work with awesome people and to add greater value to what we deliver for our clients. This wouldn’t be possible without cloud technology.
Cost: Reduce Technology Infrastructure Costs
In the old days, everyone in your office would require their own computer (usually a Windows PC,) and a large, onsite IT support staff to manage and deal with all these individual devices. On top of that, everyone’s data lived on their local machines, which made sharing difficult. Add to that the complexity of communicating by email and overflowing inboxes and you’ve got a real productivity killer.
Cloud technology has enabled businesses to greatly simplify their data infrastructure by eliminating the need to have a bunch of expensive computers and; instead, utilize shared resources. Also, since dedicated hardware is not needed and in the age of BYOD (bring your own device), your staff can always use the devices they already own, namely their laptops, smartphones and tablets, to access the cloud. For remote teams, this works even better.
If you’re interested in how to use the cloud to power what you’re doing in your business, I hope you’ll join us for this week’s edition of V3Live, The Internet of Things, where we’ll be joined by my long-time friend, Lisa Qualls. Lisa’s done it all – including helping to build the cloud as a telecom executive, launching and running her own agency and leveraging the cloud as part of day-to-day operations, and now working with IBM selling cloud technology. We’ll cover the following:
- What is cloud
- What kinds of clouds exist
- How you can use cloud for strategic reinvention
- How you can use cloud to make better decisions
- How you can use cloud to enable collaboration
Come join us – we’d love to have you. V3 Live: The Internet of Things July 9, 2014 at 2pm ET/1pm CT. You can also join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #V3Live.
What about your business and the adoption of the cloud? Are you there yet? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how that has changed your business operations.
Other resources on this topic:
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.