The world today is the best possible scenario for small and medium sized businesses. For the first time ever, small business has access to the same IT communication and collaboration infrastructure as big business, giving the former the best opportunity to compete vigorously within the marketplace.
Today, entrepreneurs benefit from Cloud Collaboration and are able to meet, share and jointly edit files with staff, suppliers, clients from anywhere in the world – all made possible because of the Cloud.
But what is this Cloud around which there is so much hype. The Cloud can be defined in many different ways, depending on its use or application. According to Erick Griffith of PC Magazine, “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programmes over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulonimbus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”
With internet access getting faster and faster, pushing huge amounts of data across the ever burgeoning internet, a new approach to doing business emerged. “Why go to the expense of owning and maintaining IT infrastructure when all you need to do is just use it. Companies can reallocate the capital that they would have used to purchase this infrastructure, into revenue generating activity or other core areas of the business,” explains David Allen, CEO of Info Exchange Ltd. Back in the 1990’s when these ideas emerging, it was pretty revolutionary, you store your files in one place and access them from any device. Remember the dark ages when you had to burn CDs and carry around external hard drives? Fast forward to today, where co-workers in different parts of the world can jointly work on the same document, and where you can participate in a video conference via your smart phone – this is Cloud Collaboration.
What does this mean for business and your company?
Today there are a plethora of Cloud offerings for businesses to implement such as Software-as-a-service (SaaS) where a business subscribes to an application it accesses over the internet, e.g. Surveymonkey.com; Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), where a business can create its own custom applications for use by all in e.g. Banking applications; and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), e.g. Software that provides the backbone for companies, e.g. Hosted Exchange and Data Protection just to name two.
Collaboration technology is a well-established market, now well into its third decade. By 2018 this market is expected to reach a size of more than US$21billion, at a staggering compounded growth rate of 15%p.a. Overall cloud computing is big business, generating over $100Billion in 2012 and estimated to reach $270billion by 2020.
Driving forces behind the Cloud for businesses
There are four main factors driving this fast paced cloud adoption
- Predictable Costs
- Speed of deployment
- Preference to IT spend as monthly operational cost instead of capital expenditure
- Cloud is considered the “latest technology”.
A survey done by Forbes Insights, in collaboration with Cisco, says that the collaborative revolution has reached fever pitch, “as a comparatively new crop of cloud-delivered collaboration-focused strategies and applications is achieving broader adoption and delivering remarkable results. Those interviewed, and who were actively using Cloud technology saw values in the following areas:
- Generates profound innovation
- Enables more efficient business processes
- Accelerates business results
- Provides competitive advantage.
“If you are unsure about utilising the Cloud in your business ask yourself a question. Where is the value in the technology? Is it in the hardware you purchased, which will be obsolete in a few years?” asks David Allen. “Is it in the software which has to be regularly upgraded and maintained at great expense? Or is it in the data created and organisational efficiencies achieved through its use? If you choose the latter, you can see why services deployed via the Cloud makes sense. Through the Cloud, small businesses can have access to technologies and efficiencies once reserved for large organisations with big budgets.
The Cloud is here to stay, so if you are not yet there…it's time you got your head up into the Cloud.