Over the last 5 to 10 years, cloud computing has matured and offers several advantages that, according to recent studies, many businesses are unfortunately unaware of. What kind of benefits are we talking? We'll break it down for you with the help of a few fantastic articles we found on the subject.
What is cloud computing?
PC Magazine provides a beautifully straight forward definition of cloud computing - cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive. For it to be considered "cloud computing," you need to access your data or your programs over the Internet, or at the very least, have that data synchronized with other information over the Net.
Why is it useful?
There's been quite a few researches on the effects of cloud computing since the term emerged. Smartcompany recently wrote an article highlighting a study published by the Grattan institute that reveals that around three-in-five businesses are missing out on the productivity and other benefits available through cloud computing.
According to the report, over 40% of businesses already using cloud-based services cite the ability to work from any location as a key benefit. Other key benefits cited by businesses include the data security, fewer IT issues, direct link between software and other online data, the reduced cost of software and service, and improved flexibility.
Brittenford gave an overview of a similar research on cloud usage conducted by Edge Strategies - the survey respondents included IT decision-makers/influencers at over 3,000 SMBs (small and medium businesses) in 13 countries. Below you will find some key findings regarding the top motivators for SMBs to move to the cloud, divided by company size.
Top motivators for SMBs to move to the cloud according to Edge Strategies
Let's have a closer look at these benefits mentioned.
Microsoft has pointed out a few key benefits of cloud computing, including the undeniable fact that it is accessible. Offering easy access and file sharing from any Internet connection, cloud computing allows employee access via smart phone or computer, which means that users can access their content from absolutely anywhere as long as they have internet connection.
This means that it's also easier for a firm to standardise and update processes across multiple locations and business units, and, in addition to being beneficial to business, this kind of flexibility can also positively affect employees' work-life balance and productivity.
Security and business resiliency
Salesforce brings out the important point of data security. For example, around 800,000 laptops are lost each year in airports alone. If you're not using cloud computing, losing your hardware can have some serious monetary implications, but when everything is stored in the cloud, data can still be accessed no matter what happens to a machine.
Businessweek also suggests "going cloud" for security reasons - you may not have the resources to have a security staff but your cloud service provider should. Moving e-mail and other services to the cloud can sometimes save money and may actually keep you safer.
Cloud computing offers several cost advantages to the tradition style of "off the shelf" software packages including lower hardware and software costs. The aforementioned Grattan study states that the ability of providers to make services available with relatively low set - up costs brings many services within reach of small and medium firms for the first time.
For SMBs, in particular, the cloud can alleviate capital constraints and the lack of technical expertise. As Salesforce points out, cloud computing providers share their complex infrastructure and servers, and consumers simply only pay for the storage they use, which saves them money.
Increased collaboration and employee productivity
According to Salesforce, cloud computing increases collaboration by allowing all employees – wherever they are – to sync up and work on documents and shared apps simultaneously, and follow colleagues and records to receive critical updates in real time. A survey by Frost & Sullivan found that companies which invested in collaboration technology had a 400% return on investment.
Microsoft also addresses remote workers - many small businesses have employees working remotely, and need both mobility and flexibility. Cloud computing is a straightforward and affordable way of addressing those needs.
The green dimension
Smart Data Collective points out something that most people usually don't think of, but should - the green aspect of the cloud, which can help companies achieve their business objectives in corporate social responsibility. This is because cloud providers can invest in data centers large scale (avoiding that each company has its own data center energy waste), which offer companies a green alternative to the conventional approach for IT.
Furthermore, by putting more cloud services, material waste is reduced as less hardware is required. Can also be used for longer as fewer computing resources are required on the desktop. In addition, less infrastructure on site means less equipment to insure.
For additional data on cloud usage, check out this infographic on the latest report on CSC cloud usage index: