How Ready is Your Small Business For the Cloud?

As we’ve alluded to in this post, technology is absolutely for everybody. It’s so useful that it even makes running your business easier! And none displays this more than the benefits of cloud computing!

But before you get all positive, let’s hold on there for a second: how sure are you that your business is ready to adopt new technologies? While innovations are always necessary for any venture, it’s also helpful to take stock of your small business’s capability to take on new challenges before you jump with both feet in the water.

If anything, this is where versing yourself in the basics of cloud technology could benefit you. In today’s piece, we’re discussing what you need to do to arm yourself for the impending cloud revolution.

But before anything, let’s answer this question first: what is cloud computing, really?

Cloud Computing 101

 

 

If you’ve read the post we linked above, you have probably encountered our short summary on cloud computing. Below is a direct excerpt:

“In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”  

In short, if you’re using the internet, you’re already using cloud computing.

In today’s era, though, “cloud computing” has taken on a more business-like connotation: in addition to data access and storage, cloud computing is now used in terms of the kinds of solutions needed by a business. Usually, cloud computing can be broken down into three types of services nowadays:

1. Data storage and/or backup

Data storage and backup is exactly as it sounds: it saves data. This might also be everyone’s first exposure to the idea of a  cloud service. The most common platforms for this, of course, are services like Google Drive or Dropbox. Data backups, however, are contingency services used in line with hosting.

2. Hosting

Cloud hosting, on the other hand, is one that should come to mind when talking about, say, a website. Often referred to as IaaS (or “Infrastructure as a Service”), its primary features often feature diverse services like website hosting, custom emails, or proprietary communications systems that’s only used within a company, to name a few. If you’ve ever read one of our passionate rants for WordPress before, then you’d know how hosting can be beneficial for a business.

3. Software

Cloud software is, simply put, software or application that can be used online. We have plenty of examples for this, and you might already be using the services you aren’t even aware are cloud-related. Heard of Skype before? Or how about Spotify? These two services are just some of the more common SaaS (or “Software as a Service”) models known to everyone.

So, now that we’re at least aware of the various service models that uses cloud, how can you make sure that your feet are ready to get wet in the new and exciting world of the cloud? Here are some tips for you on how to do so…

Being open to changes

Despite the widespread availability of cloud applications–many of which are even free–there is still a shocking rate of non-adoption going on, even in countries which we typically think of as technologically modern.

Here’s one example: despite being pegged as one of the rising economies in Asia, Thailand’s small business industries are ranked third in terms of “digital readiness”. To be fair to them, that’s a problem that many organizations, particularly those with years of running the same business techniques, have.

To use a simpler example, think of yourself as an office worker who only got to use a desktop computer for the first time after years of only using ink-and-ribbon typewriters; the change is jarring, and you might even find it difficult to grasp this new thing that your boss is ordering you to learn quickly.

Now, multiply this behavior to hundreds of small businesses, and you begin to see how it might become a bigger issue without us even realizing it. The “don’t fix if it ain’t broke” approach might have worked a generation ago when running a business, but that would only doom you to getting left out by your competitors if you fail to enact any new changes in your business system.

So, as long as you have a business culture or a staff that is ready to learn and look for better way of doing things, then at least there would be less resistance when you’re about to implement cloud-based technologies in your operations.

Security and accountability

The adoption of digital technologies, ironically, also comes with its own set of pitfalls. The most prominent of those is security. Seriously, if Facebook, the digital giant that it is, constantly encounters security problems, then what does that mean for people who are running their own business websites?

Of course, security risks, both in the real and virtual world, come with the cost of running any business. And as often with the case, all it takes is for you to be aware of who you’re sharing your sensitive business data with. Who else in your staff knows the password? Do you remember to log out when accessing data through a computer that isn’t in your office?

At the very least, you can always track who you have to make accountable in case breaches do happen. For a more comprehensive guide on website (specifically, WordPress) security, then read this post here.     

Varied costs

The cost that comes for getting cloud services is what might prove to be the dealbreaker for some businesses.

Here’s why: usually, when we get a new program, it’s just a matter of paying for it and then having it installed on your computer. However, cloud services don’t often work like that. Subscription is the name of the game when it comes to paying for any cloud-based service.

Let’s take Google Drive as an example: it usually offers the first 15 Gb storage for free, which is sizable enough for most purposes. Once you begin to upload files that exceed the storage, however, then you have to pay a set fee so you can enjoy more storage capabilities.

Rather than viewing this subscription model pessimistically, do realize where the bulk of the money goes to–oftentimes, it ends up paying for the updates that you’ll be enjoying for that cloud app you’ll be using.

Imagine if you’re only paying for Spotify and Netflix for a one-time fee, and then you only get to enjoy the content that came with your payment without anything new coming in. That  would be really boring, wouldn’t it? 

The internet has made everything move at a lightning pace. Unfortunately, that meant that the software we might be using at the moment would almost always be prone to obsolescence in just a matter of time. That’s why cloud models are now using subscription models to sell their services. Its convenience comes at a cost, of course, but it’s not that different than when you’re buying new stocks for your products.

So, is your business ready for cloud computing? Tell us how else we can help you in the comments section below.