By Larry Caretsky
The stubbornly slow economic recovery, persistently high IT infrastructure costs and a lack of onsite IT resources are driving more small and midsized businesses to the cloud. Cloud computing offers an attractive value proposition, providing 24/7/365 access to offsite resources for a predictable cost with no physical maintenance obligations. But is a move to the cloud right for your business?
The answer depends on your company’s unique business considerations, but since the potential savings are significant, it makes sense to weigh the pros and cons. On the plus side, a move to the cloud will immediately allow you to sharpen your focus on your core business since you will no longer have to allocate time and resources to manage an IT infrastructure.
Another huge plus businesses receive when they move to the cloud is greater mobile access. Since the cloud centralizes business assets offsite and enables users to access company files and software solutions remotely, sales and support teams can get the information and tools they need to serve customers better. That can drive sales higher and increase customer satisfaction exponentially.
In addition, migrating to the cloud allows small businesses to quickly scale up hardware and software assets to support rapid growth. This is an especially important feature for newly launched companies or businesses that are rolling out new products and services that can result in a demand spike. Another advantage to cloud computing is the elimination of upgrade fees.
On the con side of the ledger, a move to the cloud can put smaller companies at a disadvantage if it temporarily disrupts business operations during the migration. Some cloud interfaces may present a learning curve to employees, which can slow down operations until staff get used to the new system. Business leaders can mitigate these risks with careful planning and by choosing the right cloud partner.
But for many small business owners, the primary obstacle to adopting a cloud strategy remains fears about security. It’s natural to worry about turning highly confidential data over to a third party, and it’s prudent to assess the security risk involved. But the fact is that cloud services firms typically have more robust security measures in place than the average small business, and cloud providers have every motivation to protect their customers’ data – their business depends on it.
It’s impossible for any company – including your own – to guarantee 100% data safety, but reputable cloud services providers invest heavily in creating a secure environment. So if cloud security is your primary objection to migrating your IT operation to the cloud, you should reconsider: Improved security is a silver lining for small businesses when they move to the cloud.
Larry Caretsky is president and CEO of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of online software for customer relationship management.