If you're involved in the management of everyday office IT, or even if you're the end user, you'll be very familiar with the term 'the cloud' or 'cloud computing'. However, if you're not 100% certain as to what the term 'the cloud' actually means, you're not alone.
Research published by Citrix in 2012 confirmed that most Americans didn't understand what was meant by 'the cloud' and 51% believed that stormy weather would probably interfere with its functionality. As recently as 2016, Dan Phillips, CEO of CloudHealth Technologies told Fox Business that "possibly as little as 10%" of people today truly understand what it is. Need a little refresher? We're here to help!
If you use social media or store data online, you’ve made use of the cloud.
The cloud, or cloud computing, is a network of servers that are housed in an off-site location. Although linked together, each server performs a different function. Some provide cloud storage, while others provide a more specific service. It enables the delivery of all of the on-demand, internet-based computing resources and services that we use every day, often without thinking. Does your business backup saved documents online? Does it have access to a space where multiple people can collaborate on a single document? Does it process web payments by credit card, Paypal or similar? Does it access enterprise software applications such as CRM? All of these functions are carried out via the cloud.
So why has the cloud become so universally acclaimed in the realm of business and IT? There are multiple reasons. Here, we explore the five fundamental reasons to embrace cloud computing for your business:
If there’s one lesson that any business has to learn quickly, it’s how to make every investment count. Cloud-based services allow your company to make significant savings, while also future-proofing your IT infrastructure.
The most recent statistics from Statista indicate that business use of cloud computing in the UK reached 84% in 2015. Studies have highlighted cost savings as a primary driver of cloud adoption. The bottom line is, aside from giving you a technical advantage, cloud computing is proven to save you money.
Shedding hardware reduces IT costs. Embracing the cloud means that equipment like servers can be housed and managed off-site and the responsibility of ongoing maintenance can be moved to an outsourced provider, thus saving on man power and maintenance costs.
Businesses that move to this service also reap significant savings on their energy bills. The cost of running an office server can run into hundreds of pounds per year in electricity bills alone. Moving this energy-intensive equipment to another location could make a significant impact on the reduction of your monthly costs.
One of the greatest advantages of the cloud for businesses, particularly those with limited budgets, is the monthly subscription option. Rather than being forced to pay one large lump sum, you can spread your costs over 12 smaller monthly payments.
Cloud computing allows you to create a virtual office which is accessible from anywhere in the world, no matter the time of the day. This is particularly useful if your business has offices in other overseas locations or works with international clients.
This flexibility is especially appropriate for the modern workforce. Research by the Trade Union Congress revealed that the number of employees who say they usually work from home has increased by almost 20% over the past decade. Companies are increasingly recognising that allowing remote working as an option can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction levels while also going some way to reduce internal energy costs.
However, this level of flexibility is only possible when the suitable technical infrastructure is in place. By implementing cloud-based programs and file-sharing software, staff can work independently and easily when out of the office. Access to their virtual office is never more than a click away.
Equally, the cloud is essential for those who work in sales or who need to travel frequently for work. Apps such as the eFax app provide on-the-go-employees with easy access to saved documents, even allowing them to send, receive and mark up faxes.
The beauty of working with the cloud is that it can grow in line with your business. The majority of cloud-service providers offer flexible packages with a range of plans depending on your business needs and budget.
Rather than having to predict business growth or decline, you can simply scale up or down as needed. If you know that an upcoming project will require increased resources, there’s always the option to upgrade your plan and enjoy a new range of features.
Security and reliability are paramount when it comes to dealing with company or customer data, particularly with GDPR on the horizon. One of the main advantages of cloud computing is the level of security it can offer your business and customers.
In the past, businesses would have saved valuable data on hard drives, USBs or even floppy disks, if you care to take a trip back to the ‘80s and ‘90s! These storage devices carry the risk of getting lost, misplaced or stolen and accessed by unauthorised people. Traditionally, hard copies of all records would also have been stored for safe keeping. However, this method of data security isn’t in line with today’s best security practices.
Stolen computers can cost companies millions of pounds in lawsuit pay outs. You may remember how stolen laptops cost the NHS dearly, both in terms of data loss and its reputation. If you want to ensure maximum security for your company’s data, a cloud-service provider is the best option.
Cloud computing also gives you additional peace of mind, where you can be safe in the knowledge that your information is safely stored and accessible.
Finally, what's often the clincher for those exploring the logistics of moving to the cloud is that it can be easily integrated with existing company software. This streamlined integration of services allows for better project management, as all changes or updates can be automatically synchronised to popular apps like Google Calendar or Office 365.
In terms of sales, all leads generated through social media or online web forms can be automatically populated into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. In addition, it’s possible to automatically sync any new contacts or emails into your CRM, ensuring your sales and marketing team always have the most up-to-date details.
Fax is one of the most reliable and secure methods of communication for businesses today, but it comes with drawbacks. Fax machines are costly to run and it's not hard to understand why when you consider the cost of paper, toner and ongoing maintenance, not to mention the detrimental impact on communication efficiency when compared with say, email.
However, eFax, hosting all the benefits of the cloud, provides the ultimate solution to all of this.
Cloud-faxing is the modern way to fax. Using a cloud-service provider like eFax, you’ll be able to send or receive faxes over the internet via your email account. Not only does it improve the efficiency, security and convenience of your communications, eFax also provides unlimited cloud storage, saving every message and document you send and receive free of charge. To see how internet faxing can benefit your business, why not sign up to a free trial or contact us to find out more.