Only 29% of biz owners know the Cloud?
Apparently a lot of small business owners are not familiar with ‘The Cloud’ – at least when it comes to Cloud Computing as a technology solution for their business. According to a recent survey (May of 2011) done by the Small Business Authority, only 29% of small business owners are familiar with the term Cloud Computing.
Only 29%! There’s a huge opportunity right now, both for qualified vendors who can supply great cloud based solutions, but more importantly for small business owners who can leverage Cloud based technology to cut costs and do more with less!
What is Cloud Computing? In a nutshell, it’s the ability to interact with data or applications that are centrally hosted on the internet (or in ‘the cloud’). The reality is that you’re likely dealing with a lot of cloud based stuff today and you didn’t know it – when you get a movie from Netflix Instant Streaming, you’re pulling down data / content from the cloud. It’s available in a lot of different ways (your computer, an iPad, your TV etc.) but it’s all tied back to your account.
Here’s a handy graphic that I pulled out of the wikipedia cloud computing entry Other examples of cloud based services include SalesForce CRM, Dropbox (free file sharing and back-up), the whole suite of Google Apps and other stuff you’re probably already using like Quickbooks (online version) or Pandora (music).
There are a lot of benefits that cloud computing will immediately bring to a small business owner (and that’s not counting specific applications or functionality that might apply especially to your industry). Here are just a few:
- Everyone has access to the same data (no more passing spreadsheet versions around)
- Data is automatically backed up…without expensive hardware costs
- Everyone can get to the important data or applications even if they’re not in the office
- You can collaborate a lot easier and do it remotely (w/ clients, vendors, employees)
- Solutions are a lot less expensive (in general) – especially when it comes to up front capital
It’s not all sunshine and roses – you do have to figure out how the changes will impact your workflow. Your processes will change and there will be impact…mostly positive, but change is still change. Additionally, just like everything else, there are good solutions and not so good solutions out there and you have to figure out what works for you. However if you can get past that initial hump – you will cut your costs and start doing more using the cloud.
As an example, Aspire just cut over to Google for email and access to the Google business suite of apps. My friend Joe Tierney at Umzuzu helped up migrate our email to a Gmail hosted platform…which means that we can now access all email from any device (laptop, desktop, phone, iPad) and we’re always working on the same set of emails. Additionally we get the benefits of Gmail functionality…priority inbox, better search and new stuff over time. Finally – I no longer need to worry about backing up my Outlook files – which I wasn’t doing a very good job of anyway.
Overall I can already tell this is going to save me several hours a week because it enables a more efficient process for how I work. And in today’s crazy world – that’s worth an awful lot!
Are you leveraging the cloud? If not – why not? I’d love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach
Great cloud photo by fifkins