Why Should Small Businesses Go Into The Cloud?
By Chris Lindsay, general manager for business applications, BT
Cloud computing is built on a seemingly simple model: the software is hosted by a third party and accessed via the internet. Naturally, the ‘offsite’ aspect is a change for firms to get their heads around despite the obvious cost and convenience benefits. Once businesses have taken that leap of faith, cloud computing helps them better manage their business operations and improve efficiencies.
The one great advantage of cloud computing is the ability of small businesses to access applications that they generally wouldn’t be able to afford — a bit like renting a product instead of buying it outright. BT, for example, offers software such as Salesforce.com for maximising the work of sales teams, Genius, an application that enhances email productivity, and Ribbit for Salesforce, an application that bridges the gap between a mobile text message and its use as a customer sales record that makes use of this data.
We’ve found the choice of applications is one of the biggest advantages for our customers; many time-poor businesses tend to stick with what they know rather than dedicating energy to finding and researching new, innovative applications. Cloud computing allows these businesses to discover new ways to run their business without committing to costly software licences.
Cloud applications are delivered remotely in return for a monthly per-user subscription fee. When extra resources are required, the total fee rises, when they’re not they can be ‘switched off’ and the fee falls accordingly. This offers enormous benefits in terms of scaling software up and down with minimal cost impact.
Payment of a monthly cloud application fee means that all issues regarding maintenance are handled for you - there are no software licences, for example, and no need to maintain server systems on-site with all the hassle this involves. A company using cloud applications such as customer relationship management software can always be sure that it is running the very latest version as updates are provided automatically as soon as they become available.
Is your data safer on your own systems or hosted by someone else? You might be surprised to learn that your data is probably safer being handled by a company who makes it their business to protect their customers’ data with the latest security software and protocols. All of BT’s partners have passed through our strict security assessment proesses. The third-party provider will also handle backup so you know your data is safe in case of disaster.
Making it right for you
When you buy a cloud computing solution you’re not left on your own. The service provider can help you customise your applications to suit your business and can also help you import and integrate data. If necessary, many providers such as BT even offer training on how to use applications.
Better for your staff
It’s now much easier for staff to work offsite — all they need is a laptop and a Blackberry. Cloud computing is a great option of businesses who like to encourage remote or flexible working because the applications can be accessed anywhere via an internet connection. Cloud applications are like taking your office with you.
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