How are small businesses using cloud computing, and how are they benefiting from it? A study by CDW reported on CIO.com found that more than half of businesses surveyed are moving at least some of their functions to the cloud. What they’re using the cloud for, however, varies by business size. For small and midsized businesses, storage is the primary way they use the cloud, while bigger companies and government agencies use cloud services mostly for collaboration and conferencing.
Of course, these aren’t the only things the cloud is being used for. CDW found that companies are also using the cloud to handle messaging, to access office and productivity suites, and to use business process apps.
No matter what types of functions they move to the cloud, doing so brings many benefits to companies of all sizes, CDW’s survey contends. Greater efficiency was the major benefit, cited by 55 percent of respondents. Close behind were greater employee mobility (49 percent), improved ability to innovate (32 percent) and freeing up the IT staff’s time to focus on more important work (31 percent). However, cloud computing may not save as much money as you expect: Just one-fourth of respondents said that reducing IT costs was a major benefit of cloud computing.
If you’re considering moving some of your business functions to the cloud or using cloud computing to access new applications and services, keep the following advice from CDW in mind:
- Carefully analyze costs and benefits before making the decision.
- Start small, using cloud services for functions that are simple to implement, aren’t business-critical and don’t put your company’s data or processes at risk.
- Ease your employees into using cloud computing by leveraging their familiarity with consumer cloud services that they likely use, such as Spotify or Dropbox.
- Keep track of your ROI to ensure that cloud services are truly saving you money or providing additional benefits that make them worth the cost.
- Always review cloud service providers’ contracts and terms carefully. Make sure the provider’s security precautions are suitable for your needs, and know what type of customer service assistance you can expect in case of a problem.
- Make sure a cloud provider’s offerings can scale up quickly with your company as it grows. This can be one of the major benefits of using cloud services, but you also need to know what costs will be as you add users, applications or services to make sure the solution is still cost-effective.
Image by Flickr user Kevin Dooley (Creative Commons)Google+