Cloud technology is enabling SME’s to start and rapidly grow and manage their businesses.
There are a number of ways in which the cloud can benefit SME’s, but let’s start with a quick definition so we all know what ‘The Cloud’ is. Microsoft capture it pretty well:
“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services – servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more – over the Internet. Companies offering these services typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you’re billed for gas or electricity at home.”
So, cloud computing means storing your files on the internet, rather than on a hard drive on your computer or servers in your office. It may also mean that you no longer need to download or install dedicated software to your own computer, as applications can be accesses and used online, too.
Why is this good for SMEs?
The Cloud and its associated connectivity offers many benefits for SME’s – here are some key advantages.
1. Cost savings
Using cloud services results in reduced capital costs and more predictable operational spending. You don’t need to make large investments to buy expensive servers and their related software, or to upgrade and maintain them.
Cloud services typically work on a subscription basis, which offer greater operational cost certainty, making it easier to budget. There’s also a significant reduction in the costs of electricity used to power servers and when greater savings in the costs of air-conditioning to keep them cool
Most cloud service providers offer full technical support for their systems, meaning you don’t need to use your own IT staff, or contractors to solve any problems with the equipment. Cloud hosting services automatically monitor servers around the clock for faults and outages. And if something does happen it can usually be fixed fast and for no extra fee.
2. Scalability means flexibility
Cloud services offer economies-of-scale which SME’s cannot normally achieve. Coupled with the subscription models typically offered, means that you can gradually increase the size of your cloud resources in line with the growth of your business.
Also, because Cloud services are accessed via the internet, your team’s location is no longer a concern. Remote access to systems, information and communications helps to promote more flexible and efficient working patterns.
3. Reliability and recovery
Cloud means never remembering to backup. Backups are crucial for every business and can save the day when servers crash. Cloud services can do it all for you, which means you can focus more on running your business.
4. Easier for SMEs
Normally SMEs will find Cloud services easier to adopt, as they tend to have fewer and smaller legacy systems, which can present a barrier to change in larger organisations.
How are SMEs using the Cloud to grow and manage their business?
Could services can benefits SMEs in a number of areas, including:
Accounting and Finance
Accounts packages such as Xero are 100% cloud-based and include direct links with Bank accounts, invoicing and inventory systems. SMEs will find that many accountants are familiar with Xero, meaning they can be given online access to work the business accounts, rather than sending files and documents.
Cloud Services can be used for email and video conferencing services, both within the business and externally.
Documents and information can be securely held in the Cloud and accessed by multiple users for collaboration and data-sharing.
Marketing and sales
A wide range of marketing tools are available via the cloud, from web-based lead generation systems, to campaign management, CRM and marketing automation systems. Cloud-based Business Intelligence and analytics platforms offer on-demand computing power to make better, data-driven decisions.
And many other business systems
From procurement to supply chain management, to disaster recovery, to outsourcing non-core services.
At EFM, we have been using the Cloud exclusively for several years. Our network extends throughout the UK and Ireland and our team can access resources, financial applications, documents and reporting systems 24/7, whether they’re in the office, with a customer, or on the move. As our network has grown, the Cloud has grown with us, and it’s always the right size.
EFM will be attending Informed Funding’s Evening Seminar on Tuesday 6th February at Workspace’s Kennington Park near Oval. Join members of our team, and Ronny Munster, FD of Centtrip.