Cloud computing has been a game-changer for business IT. In the UK last year, 581,173 new businesses were registered with Companies' House. Certainly, part of this accelerated growth can be put down to cloud computing
This is because cloud technology allows new ventures to be in business almost instantly. As a new company, you can get an IT infrastructure that would be far beyond your reach if you were required to buy and host it in-house.
This rapid deployment means new businesses can punch above their weight and compete with larger, more established peers almost immediately.
It may not seem as easy for established businesses to deploy cloud services. Research from the Federation of Small Businesses found that only a quarter of small firms are actually investing in technology such as cloud computing – even though they could reap many benefits from going down this route.
Overall, it seems new businesses are more willing to embrace these new technologies.
The barriers to entry for existing businesses
Around the world, many major businesses have already switched from on-site IT solutions to the cloud. And they're enjoying the advantages this brings them.
So, why are smaller companies holding back from this transition?
A survey from Oxford Economics (PDF link) found many small businesses are more interested in technologies such as business intelligence and mobile solutions rather than the cloud.
Additionally, some small business owners are scared of the cloud. Often, they have concerns about the costs, complexity and risks involved.
But cloud computing is changing how people do business. By ignoring the potential of this technology to evolve their own businesses, smaller companies are missing out.
It's essential they look at adopting the cloud. The productivity benefits it can bring may enable them to stay competitive. There are really four key areas to consider:
1. The cost of cloud computing
Cloud technology can deliver significant cost savings by reducing the need for in-house infrastructure. It also tends to reduce upfront expenditure and ongoing maintenance costs.
A report from the European Commission found that the adoption of cloud computing could result in 80% of organisations reducing their costs by about 10%-20%.
2. The benefits of pay-as-you-go
Many cloud computing services offer the option to pay monthly. When cash flow is important to your business, this can make a big difference.
Pay-as-you-go options also allow businesses to access sophisticated software with no upfront fees and no lock-in period.
3. Being able to stay flexible
Mobile technology means you can now do business anywhere there's an internet connection. Cloud computing lets your staff access applications and files on the go.
This can be good for all kinds of businesses. For instance, if your company employs freelancers or has employees who have to travel for work, this could keep them in touch.
The cloud is also helpful when it's difficult for staff to get into the office. You can run the company from anywhere, because you're not reliant on technology on your premises.
4. Staying secure
Security has long been a barrier to wider adoption of cloud computing. However, cloud providers can actually offer increased security at a lower cost than smaller companies could otherwise afford.
Put it this way: if you choose your cloud provider carefully (that's important), your data will be kept in a UK data centre. There, it'll be protected by security measures far in excess of what your business could implement, because the cloud provider's reputation hinges on keeping data safe.
The cloud will grow the economy
With their capacity to adapt in an ever-changing business environment, small companies are vital for continued UK economic growth.
Many innovative start-ups growing by making the most of what the cloud provides, but all businesses should be aware of its transformational potential.
If you run a smaller business, you need know-how to stay ahead of the game. What's more, the wider business and digital communities must work to encourage and support the adoption of new technologies, including the cloud.
Copyright © 2015 Steve Belton of InstaCloud