As a technology-based business, you know you need to be on the cutting edge with the technology you use as well as what you provide to your customers. Cloud computing gives you the ability to take your work remote, make it easily accessible and even integrate it with business intelligence (BI) so you can cultivate data which allows you to improve and grow over time.
In a recent survey of 786 IT experts in different sized companies, researchers found about 94 percent of participants currently use public and private clouds. Cloud computing offers many benefits over internal networks, including the ability to scale easily as the company grows. Since tech companies sometimes take off at lightning speed, scalability is a big reason many choose to utilize cloud computing.
However, cloud computing tends to run a little more, particularly if you already have a non-cloud system in place. There are a few factors you should consider before investing in the cloud to help you get the most bang for your buck.
How Exactly Does Cloud Computing Work
Cloud computing is simply a set of data that lives online and is accessible from anywhere at any time. You can have a private server which is only accessible to you or you can have a public server. For example, if your company has a database of clients who use your software, you might want your salespeople to access that data while out on sales calls. However, you don't want just anyone to have access to your client profiles. This would be kept private.
On the other hand, if you offer a mobile app that allows customers to look up sales for different stores while out shopping, you want that information accessible to all and would be more likely to put it on a publicly accessible server. Of course, there are many different scenarios, but that should give you an idea of the different uses for cloud computing. Around 84 percent of companies use a multi-cloud strategy and combine the use of public and private clouds to meet their various needs.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
There are many benefits of taking your business to the cloud.
· Go Eco-friendly - Cloud computing is more environmentally friendly, especially if you team up with a provider who is green conscious.
· Better Control of Data - You'll have all your data at your fingertips and be able to easily share between departments. This puts the power of BI in your hands. Sales and marketing can easily coordinate.
· Increase Productivity - Cloud computing increases productivity because you can make different parts of the system accessible to the necessary players. In addition, workers can access data remotely, allowing them to work during off hours or while on the road.
· Gain Flexibility - One of the largest advantages of cloud computing is that you can easily add another system, loop them together, open up databases to customers and scale as your business grows.
There are many advantages to cloud computing. Whether it's worth the investment depends on your business.
Disadvantages to Consider
While there are many advantages to cloud computing, as with anything, there are also some cons. Awareness of the drawbacks allows you to make an informed decision about when or if to move to a cloud-based system.
· Cost - Most cloud systems need to be managed remotely, which can be expensive. Of course, if you currently have an entire IT department, you may save money in the long run.
· Reducing Jobs - Unfortunately, losing your IT people is also a drawback because you'll reduce the number of jumps in your company. You'll need to keep one or two IT experts on hand, but not nearly as many as if you run your own database and internal network.
· Security - Your cloud databases may not be as secure as an in-house system, depending upon who manages it and their attention to cybersecurity. Keep in mind that any system can be hacked. However, when you place your entire database online, many more people have access to the information, including former disgruntled IT workers who were laid off and hackers.
The larger your company grows, the more you'll need to spend on a managed cloud service. While there are advantages, you must also keep costs under control if you want your company to stay in the black.
Know the Big Players
If you've decided moving to the cloud is right for your tech business, then you should know who the big players in cloud computing are.
Of course, there are also many other providers out there who offer cloud services, so your best bet is to read the reviews, understand the type of cloud computing services you need and ask any questions you might have. If a company is fast to respond to your questions and explains their process in detail, you can likely trust them to respond when an issue arises.
Have a Backup Plan
One area of concern with putting everything on the cloud is that data might be lost. You simply have to have a backup plan to keep all your data safe. Some cloud providers offer backup to a separate system as part of their package. You may also want to set up a backup service to something like iDrive or Google Drive, where your information is regularly backed up.
You might lose a few hours’ worth of data, but the last thing you want is to lose months’ worth of work. Train your employees to back up their own work as well. If the database fails and your salespeople kept notes on their computer of changes made that day, it's a simple matter of re-uploading the information.
The Future of the Cloud
Even though the "Cloud" is a buzzword amongst today's business owners, it is still a fairly new concept in the span of data sharing and networking. Where technology goes in the next few years should be interesting to see. Artificial intelligence (AI) likely makes data sorting and reporting easier than ever before, adding intuitive insights to help tech businesses better understand who they serve and the best ways to offer an excellent customer experience.