By Carole Wood, Marketing & PR Manager At BCSG

Cloud computing has fast becoming a buzz word amongst small business owners, but is it really transforming the way business is being done or is it just a fad? This article explores the true value of cloud computing to the modern entrepreneur.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the facts:

- 51% of British small businesses recently surveyed say that IT is an integral part of their drive for business growth and innovation (Epson UK)

- UK SMEs earmarked an average spend of £30,000 on IT in 2011 (GE Capital)

- Gartner Executive Programs research showed that SMEs are increasing spending on cloud services faster than larger enterprises (January 2012 research)

Cloud computing is broadly defined as remote computing power provided by third parties. End users access cloud based applications through a web browser or mobile app while the software and data are stored on servers at a remote location. This is particularly appealing to small businesses for the following reasons:

Cloud computing provides small business owners with the flexibility to operate anytime and anywhere that has an internet connection

Cloud computing removes the need to invest in hardware and software licences; an expense which is often too costly for SMEs to front

Cloud computing gives small businesses access to a wide array of online services that make running a business more efficient: customer relationship management, payroll systems, online back-up, web hosting, application management and collaboration tools to name but a few

However, as always with IT, there are limits to cloud computing. Principally, users must place their trust in third parties and rely on the robustness of their servers. Business users also need to proceed with caution when entrusting third party suppliers with their sensitive business data; obtaining a written security guarantee is advisable.

Overall, it seems cloud computing is here to stay, and what’s more, small businesses will be at the forefront of driving its growth because the opportunities it brings to reduce costs and increase agility are too great to be missed.

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