Small business owners are well aware that technology is becoming more important to their success:
- Two-thirds of SMBs indicate technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives; and
- 72 percent of SMB decision makers say that technology solutions can help them significantly improve business outcomes and run their businesses better.
While these numbers are significant, they don’t really get at how technology can help small businesses thrive. Nor do they address which technologies are the most critical to adopt in that effort.
However, if you look at the statistics, cloud computing is one of the fastest growing technologies among small businesses, one prediction claiming that 78 percent of small businesses will have adapted cloud computing by 2020.
The Competitive Advantages of Cloud Computing
Based on the adoption number above, moving to the cloud must provide advantages aside from financial benefits and, if you want your small business to remain competitive, you might want to give them serious consideration.
Thanks to relatively new cloud licensing models, small businesses can leverage the cloud when they need to without permanent cost increases.
For example, if your small business wanted to add new cloud servers to cover an innovative project, it can add these in minutes in the cloud for an increased fee. When the project is complete, you can release those new instances and your fees drop back to the previous level.
This is radically different than the old days when you may have needed to buy equipment to handle the extra workloads from a project and, once the project was over, you were left with an expensive paperweight.
When it comes to competitive advantage, business intelligence is the new black. That’s because you can use data to better understand your customers and fuel better decision making. The numbers bear this out:
- 44 percent of SBOs who use data analytics tools report increased sales, compared to 33 percent who do not; and
- Companies using analytics are 5 time more likely to make faster decisions.
Far from being less secure, working in the cloud is actually safer:
- Businesses have experienced a 51 percent higher rate of security incidents in on-premises data centers than those in the cloud.
- 94 percent of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t previously have with their former on-premise technology approach, such as keeping systems up-to-date, spam email management and up-to-date antivirus.
This goes a long way when building that all important customer trust. Customers that don’t trust you won’t do business with you and keeping their data safe if an excellent start.
There are many benefits of collaboration, including better communication, maximized employee utilization, and satisfied customers. Any one of of these can be considered a competitive advantage, especially if your competition does not have the systems in place to support the same level of collaboration.
If your small business systems go down, the loss to your business can be great, both financially and in customer trust.
Working in the cloud however, helps alleviate the issue:
- 75 percent of SMBs said they experienced improved service availability since moving to the cloud;
- 96 percent say it creates less worries about outages; and
- 61 percent of SMBs said both the frequency and length of downtime has decreased since moving to the cloud
That’s reliability you can take to the bank.
While the financial benefits of cloud computing were mentioned above, there’s one side benefit that provides another competitive advantage:
- 70 percent of companies Microsoft surveyed report reinvesting cloud cost-savings back into their business.
What would your small business do with extra money?
In the same way, cloud computing provides time savings that can be considered a competitive advantage:
- 50 percent of SMBs have pursued new opportunities because of the time they saved managing security
What would your small business do with extra time?
Finally, moving to the cloud enables a small business to get their hands on technologies, like the ones above, that they normally would never be able to afford. In turn, this enables those small businesses to compete with companies that are much larger in size.
Leveling the playing field has always been one of the cloud’s biggest promises and, in this case, it delivers.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.
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