For small businesses and startups, resources are expensive. There is never enough talent, time, and money to solve business problems. Comparatively, there’s also never been an easier time to start a business due to the power of the cloud.
The pandemic has served as a forcing function for business leaders, accelerating their leverage of cloud technology. They are overcoming human capital limitations with cloud solutions. This generation of entrepreneurs are not worrying about server costs, data center power and cooling, managing the underlying infrastructure, and the long tail of ancillary costs; and it’s all due to the cloud. Small business and startup owners clearly understand this, as 62% of companies expanded or upgraded their cloud usage in the first half of 2020.
Effects of Cloud Usage Expansion
The recent shifts to the cloud allowed companies to quickly get up and running, making it easy for all organizations to break into new markets. Hundreds of thousands of these startups are starting their entrepreneurial dreams with the cloud every day. And every year the number of companies born in the cloud continues to explode.
Overall, businesses have reaped great benefits from their cloud upgrades and expansions. Companies are scaling up their business operations and opening new avenues for revenue, enabling them to reimagine their business possibilities. The way they see their cloud providers is changing, too, as they now seek to work with them as thought partners vs. vendors simply selling a product.
Speed & Flexibility
Twenty years ago, if someone wanted to test a business idea, they had to run to a computer store, purchase multiple products, set up, install, and configure their technology. Then, they had to work hard to figure out if they had a viable business. Now, if someone thinks they have an idea for the next best e-commerce business, they can spin up a platform and have it running for their customers in days, hours, or minutes — all in a cost effective way. With the cloud, businesses can test hypotheses and see if they resonate with customers at internet speed.
For established small and medium businesses, the cloud enables them to add different lines of business — commerce, security, service, etc. — to see if it resonates with their marketplace. And if it’s not received well, it can be shut down. Before, there were multiple factors to think about (i.e. how many employees are needed, real estate and physical space, DevOps gurus, etc.). Now, the cloud makes it easy to validate ideas, rapidly fail, learn and iterate. It is the reason small businesses use the cloud to build their companies today.
Fuel to the Fire
The cloud lets any business accelerate. This feature has been especially helpful during the pandemic. Platforms, marketplaces, and industries have put their foot on the gas, driving their future trajectory upward and beyond pre-pandemic expectations .
Education startups, for instance, have been able to keep up with the demand of online learning because of cloud infrastructure. In the gaming industry, the sudden increase of homebound users has dramatically increased broadband utilization. With millions of people spending significantly more time at home, a large proportion of them are spending even more time than usual playing online games that ride on the cloud. And e-commerce, already a hallmark of this information age, has demonstrated pandemic-resistant economic characteristics with an unprecedented number of consumers shopping online. Right now, the cloud is there for all markets, helping them grow to scale.
Future for SMBs
Cloud computing will continue to be a focus for startups and small businesses because it’s easier for entrepreneurs to stay focused on their business and core competency once they’ve picked a partner. Startup businesses need a partner that can help them unlock market value with a thoughtful and pragmatic approach to building in the cloud.
The cloud can make it easy and fun to build a business. Often, a company’s product roadmap is positively affected by it. A startup might have had a simple, predictable, and undifferentiated journey mapped out. But now, the possibilities are endless, and this technology can cause a product roadmap to take a number of different directions.
This pandemic has been awful in several ways, but some good things that have come from it. Entrepreneurs have come up with creative ideas to solve many of the challenges we’ve faced this year. With the cloud, they can focus their limited resources on positively helping those around them.
Teaching and learning will change for the better for the foreseeable future. As rural fringe communities find their footing with virtual teaching, its students will learn from well resourced teachers in larger population centers. Thanks to the cloud, a world class physics teacher in New York can reach students in a rural part of the world who don’t have a physics teacher at all. The tools they use to facilitate instruction require the cloud. Gamers organizing virtual house parties to play online with friends may not want to watch TV alone anymore either. And the ecosystem of developer tools powering online commerce is going to continue to rapidly improve online shopping for the better.
The Genie won’t go back into the bottle — when the pandemic is over, we won’t be able to go back to business as usual and take options like this away from people. While the pandemic has been horrible, there’s a silver lining in seeing how many amazing businesses have been created to help us all deal with the challenges of 2020 — all thanks to the cloud.
Kwasi Asare is Senior Manager for Channel Marketing at DigitalOcean, the cloud for developing modern apps.