While more and more large enterprises are jumping on the ‘cloud wagon’, there is still apprehension amongst the small and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s), over whether cloud is here to stay or just a fad. SMB’s still rely on big companies for “trial and error” of such new disruptive technology. The argument is that big businesses have big bucks to spend – and only when a technology or system is proven functional in large companies, do SMB’s feel confident in adopting it.
However, these doubts are fast getting dispelled as more and more success stories of cloud adoption by SMB’s are coming to light. Groupon is a great example of a company that grew rapidly with a minimum asset base by leveraging cloud solutions from providers like Salesforce.com and Amazon — it manages a global user base of over 35 million in less than 5 years since inception.
One school of thought is that factors core to cloud-based platforms -easy scalability, lower operational costs, faster implementation, and quicker ROI, are more valuable to SMB’s since face stiffer competition to survive, vis-à-vis their large counterparts.
Here are some major drivers for cloud adoption by SMB’s:
1. Real-time data access and ease of scalability
SMB’s cannot afford expensive centralized data storage systems, which means their data is scattered across multiple computers and generally may not be remotely accessible. This can pose a significant challenge to SMB’s as their business demands flexibility both in terms of the use of staff and operations. Cloud-based applications allow keeping all the data in a single repository from where it can be accessed easily and remotely 24×7. Additionally, since the cloud-service provider owns upgrades and other changes to the application, the SMB can manage their IT operations with lean physical infrastructure and a skeletal support team.
Secondly, easy ramp-up or ramp-down feature offered by most cloud providers enable SMB’s to scale their resources to mirror their growth path.
2. Availability of end-to-end cloud solutions
Business processes such as storing and distributing data, creating and allotting tasks, communicating and collaborating with colleagues, are valuable for the success of any organization. The surge in the number of business solutions on cloud platforms that are either end-to-end solutions or can be easily integrated with other complementary cloud solutions in the market gives SMB’s the benefit to leverage the cloud to the fullest extent for their business needs, at a fraction of the cost of traditional on-premise solutions.
3. Greater security of data
It is believed Cloud-based applications allow keeping data more secure than the small scale hardware storage facilities deployed by SMB’s as data confidentiality and security are usually central to a cloud provider’s value proposition.
4. Cost Benefits
SMB’s need to operate with minimal costs due to the competitive environment they are in. The Pay-per-use models offered by cloud applications means they have negligible upfront costs and can avail of the latest technology solutions with reasonable operating costs. This empowers SMB’s to afford enterprise-class solutions for their business needs.
All in all, cloud applications are here to stay and although it is still early days, it is clear that SMB’s will need to adopt cloud technology in the future if they want to stay ahead of challenges and competition.