How Hosted Cloud Solutions Will Change the Small Business Landscape

cloud-small-business-future

 

Over the last two years I’ve assisted over 120 law firms in transitioning their practice into the cloud. It’s given me an interesting opportunity to see what the obvious and more importantly the not so obvious benefits of moving small businesses to the cloud are.

As Abacus begins to offer the Abacus Private Cloud solution to other industries, I’d like to share how hosted cloud solutions will change the landscape for a variety of these small businesses.

 

1. Keeping Things Simple and Reducing Avoidable and Unwanted Stress

The phrases we use in the tech world like hosted cloud, private cloud, infrastructure as a service, desktop as a service, virtual desktop and etc. can be quite intimidating if you aren’t familiar with them. Many people spend too much time trying to understand what happens on the back-end, only to get so confused that they miss the purpose the product is supposed to serve which is simplification on the front end.

The transition from VHS Tapes to Streaming Video is a great example of how technology completely changed the way we watch movies.

Steps for watching a movie in 90’s:

Step 1: Make sure the input on your television matches the output on your VCR.
Step 2: Setup Audio to Speakers. If it was connected to a video game console, you have to disconnect from that and reconnect to the VCR.
Step 3: Go to Blockbuster or local retailer to buy/rent a movie.
Step 4: The last person who rented the movie obviously didn’t have the common courtesy of rewinding the movie. Throw the VHS Cassette into your VHS Cassette rewinder.
Step 5: Hope that everything works the way it should.

Steps for watching a movie today:

Step 1: Connect TV to Internet
Step 2: Subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.
Step 3: Spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the right movie to watch.
Step 4: Hit Play.

Ali, what are you getting at you say? What most businesses are doing today is still using the metaphorical VCR to run their IT Infrastructure. As more and more businesses are able to grasp the concept of how a hosted cloud can supremely benefit their business, the decision to make the switch will be a pretty easy one for the business owner. As a consumer, you don’t see nor really care about the computers that are running the Netflix movies. You just expect the movie to start playing when you hit the play button.

What a Hosted Cloud Takes Off the Business Owners Plate

  1. Business owners no longer would have to deal with IT Consultants that might have their own agendas. Remember that IT companies make most of their money from managing your infrastructure after the point of sale.
  2. When your servers aren’t in house, you no longer have to worry about someone breaking in to steal your data. You also don’t have to worry about backups not happening regularly or your system being secure from viruses, malware and hackers. In the unfortunate event of a fire or some other disaster, your data won’t be affected.
  3. With a hosted solution, you can access your applications and files from where ever you’re at provided you have access to Internet (not really an issue in many places these days).
  4. Do some of your employees prefer a Mac over a PC? With a hosted solution, it doesn’t matter which device they want to use. This has also been the reason BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has become popular. Some people want their own laptops with them vs. having to toggle between a work and personal one.

 

2. New Businesses Can Become Operational Faster, and Expand Quickly

In the past when you wanted to open a new business (depending on the business of course), a good amount of time and resources would be spent planning and building out your IT infrastructure. You and your IT Consultant would sit down and put together a road-map of what your needs are for the next 3 to 5 years. Based on that conversation, you would usually go out and spend a lot of money (as a capital expense) buying hardware that may not be immediately used to it’s full capacity.

The lump sum of cash being spent on this can be debilitating to a new business. A hosted cloud solution allows you to approach IT as an operational expense. You pay for what you need and the resources get allocated by your provider almost immediately. All you need to know is how many people need to access the system, what applications they need access to, and that’s pretty much it. You pay for the resources you’re using as an operational expense. It’s a predictable and manageable cost that frees up your spending for other areas of importance to a new business like licensing, marketing and etc.

As your business grows or shrinks, additional resources can be added or removed. This means you don’t have to predict your infrastructure costs for the next 5 years. This is a great proposition for businesses that are growing quickly or have fluctuations in their staffing.

 

3. Remote Workforce Capabilities, Increase of Productivity

When you’re on a cloud platform, you can access your data from anywhere provided that you have an Internet connection. So unless it’s a job that requires you to physically be there, your location becomes pretty much irrelevant. When your team can access their information where ever they’re at, you eliminate the time consuming and usually unsecured method of transferring data files back and forth via email and are able to create a more streamlined process.

Here are some real world examples of how a small business can increase productivity with a hosted cloud solution;

  • An Accounting firm has staff in different parts of the country and wants to centralize all of their data without having to find workarounds.
  • A Physical Therapists office is able to hire at-home workers that will have their applications and files with them where ever they go.
  • A Real Estate Agency wants everyone using the same applications, but also would like to give their Realtors the ability to work from home or on client visits without having to come back to the office.
  • A Small Business wants to cater to employees with families and give them the ability to work from home when needed.
  • Important role players in the company can take vacations without having to fear a phone call from an important client or partner that would require access to company files.

Above were just a few examples of how cloud based platforms can benefit the growth of your business. There are all kinds of other scenarios and innovative methods in using the cloud.

The image below is a quick snippet from an article in the Harvard Business Review discussing the cloud from stats collected by Verizon Enterprise Solutions. All of the slides are worth looking at so feel free to click on the image to go to the source.

Small Business Cloud Solutions

If you have any additional questions you can contact me directly and I’ll be happy to help. I’ve already had the chance to see many businesses begin to transition to this platform and I’m confident that this trend is just beginning to gain momentum.

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