It's undeniable cloud computing has heralded a new era of IT, allowing businesses to run more efficiently and effectively, especially small business operators – if they know how to best embrace it.
For a long time, small businesses were at a disadvantage when it came to having the latest technology, mainly because those traditional clunky hardware systems were costly to purchase and maintain, and required long lead times to install. This prevented their ability to be competitive against other larger operators.
But with the rise of cloud, the playing field is even. Whole rafts of cloud applications now serve as alternatives to legacy IT systems – from email and accounting to CRM and security. The traditional way of doing business of finding hardware and then managing it internally has been removed and eliminated.
Unfortunately, based on recent research New Zealand small businesses are technology laggards compared to their peers in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to any form of digital transformation, including cloud. As a result, they continue to miss out on the benefits of cloud because most do not have an understanding of how cloud migration can change the way they work. It's not a priority, or if it is, they aren't sure where to begin.
Unlike larger enterprises that have sufficient internal resources or a partner that can help choose the best technology to invest in, small businesses often only have one IT manager, or even just a CEO wearing many hats. When small businesses do not have the sufficient knowledge base, they struggle to understand what the ‘end game' looks like or how technology fits into their business objectives.
Small businesses can engage an IT partner to assist with its IT strategy, but it's important to remember that they may have a vested interest to maintain the relationship. Smaller IT partners have built their businesses on hardware and selling on-premise solutions including storage, application, and phone systems for the small business, so it can continue to cash in on those systems. This is costly for the business, but a move to cloud is a forward-thinking, affordable and scalable alternative.
Being a small business has its advantages when it comes to cloud transformation. The transition across to cloud is much simpler as small businesses do not have to deal with the excess baggage that most enterprises face, such as handling large legacy systems that house terabytes of data sets or unnecessary red tape.
Once the transition to cloud for a small business operator is complete, the opportunity to scale up and down systems when needed is as transparent as any other subscription service out there, which means no large upfront costs. The only responsibility that small businesses have is ensuring they are nimble enough to know when to adopt new systems, as well as when to dispense it when it's no longer needed.
At the same time, the transformation to cloud also improves the ability for a business to take advantage of mobile solutions. This means they no longer have to remain at a fixed desktop, rather they can access any information stored in the cloud on a mobile device.
Likewise, the cloud is also a flexible and scalable platform that greatly enhances any small company's opportunities to manage, share and control its data. When they have access to deeper information across a wide range of their business process they are able to make speedier decisions.
This not only helps to differentiate the business from its competitors but also deliver the best outcome for their customers and future proof the business, which is imperative in today's competitive landscape.