The sky’s the limit when your head’s in the cloud
No, we’re not talking about those white, fluffy rainmakers.
The Cloud, in its various iterations, has been around for more than 40 years. But only in the last five or so has it been more widely embraced as an easy, convenient online storage and programming solution.
The benefits for businesses in particular cover everything from streamlining sales, storing files, to sorting your monthly accounts and providing for a more flexible work force.
In fact, 45% of local businesses are now storing their data online according to Digital Journey, an organisation which offers free assessments to help organisations use digital technology. And, on top of that, nearly half of Kiwi businesses now use online accounting tools, while a third use online sales software.
Feeling a little behind the 8 ball? Below, provides a more detailed look at how the cloud could help your business.
What is the cloud?
It may sound mysterious, but the cloud simply refers to storing and managing your data online, rather than on your own computer or server.
With cloud computing, you keep your files in a network of remote servers somewhere else in the world and access them via the internet.
Chances are you’ve already used the cloud, whether it’s storing documents on Google Drive, auto backing up your photos to iCloud from your iPhone, or checking your bank balance on your phone.
Rain or shine
If you’ve ever had a hard drive failure or lost a crucial USB stick, you’ll appreciate the benefits of storing data online. Storing files in the cloud means you can access them from anywhere, at any time all you need is an internet connection.
Cloud computing can also save you money. That’s because you can pay as you go for storage (and only pay for the space you use) rather than finding the cash to house large servers somewhere on your premises.
And increasingly business applications, like MYOB, are moving online, streamlining their offerings and in turn reducing their costs. By adopting a monthly fee, they make it easier to manage cash flow.
According to Digital Journey, the main reasons businesses use the cloud include:
- Lack of skills to manage an in-house IT system
- Reduced costs with reduced need to buy and maintain IT hardware
- Cloud suppliers can take care of system and security updates, saving businesses time and money
- Data is stored elsewhere (and on multiple servers), which is more secure in case of a fire or natural disaster, or if a laptop is damaged or stolen
- It’s easier to share and collaborate. For instance, employees can work from the same master document simultaneously, and access documents from outside the office
Storing data on your hard drive used to be faster than accessing it online (remember dial-up?) but that’s all changed. High-speed broadband means your internet connection can be as fast as your connection to a hard drive.
But you need the right broadband plan to make it work. Cloud-based systems will chomp through more data, because you’ll be using the internet for more tasks. And don’t forget, uploading your files to a cloud-based server also uses data.
Businesses using the cloud should marry this with an unlimited broadband plan. That way, you won’t need to worry about increased data use and the increased charges that may come with that.
Also, remember to take both download and upload speeds into account when you talk to your broadband provider. Think of it this way: the flow of information in and out of your business can only go as fast as your connection allows – and time is money.
To learn more about how the cloud can benefit you, visit Digital Journey’s companion website digitalresources.nz, or talk to your broadband provider about their business services.