By 2020 it is estimated that 78% of small businesses are expected to host their IT environments in the cloud*. Working smarter, not harder is becoming the goal for many small businesses.

Business-changing technology has previously been restricted. The costs, as well as implementation, pushed it out of reach for many small business organisations. Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy, so it’s great that cloud technologies are finally enabling businesses, to create a robust operational environment in which to grow. Personally, I think the decline of onerous, on-premise business platforms is probably a good thing for everyone.

Today, there are all kinds of benefits that a small business expects to see when adopting cloud computing solutions. Implementing cloud technologies, such as accounting, enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management combined with Office365, can help a small business drive revenue growth, enhance security, improve mobility and reduce costs.

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I’m not suggesting that SMB’s are new to the cloud (they have been using SaaS for quite some time in popular email solutions, project management and CRM). However, this is the era of seamlessly, joined-up ERP, marketing automation, office collaboration & productivity tools. I’m increasingly finding that our small and mid-sized business clients are seeing their revenue expand, as we support them to migrate their data and apps to cloud environments. It’s not by mistake that small businesses with growing revenue are 50% more likely to prefer cloud IT delivery*.

The majority of our small businesses clients report security benefits since moving to the cloud and significant productivity benefits from cloud applications. Cloud solutions can offer reduced costs, as well as open and transparent costs. And, I believe that most businesses are reinvesting their cloud cost-savings back into their business.

People can get over-focused on the technology, but the emphasis should be on what it does, what the organisational benefits are and what service is provided. Cloud brings fresh opportunities, like the emerging app store economy, where businesses can enhance, evolve and grow their capabilities through cloud-based, extendable apps. This allows small businesses to evolve and grow, quickly and on their terms. Speed of deployment, flexibility, scalability and versatility of consumption models are just a few of the many benefits of cloud computing.

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It has been a common misconception that cloud technology was designed for big business only, when in fact it is a great leveller for small business. Technology solutions have reached a point that means small businesses can compete with their big business counterparts in terms of capability.

For many small businesses, it is more practical and cost-efficient to buy cloud services as opposed to maintaining and periodically upgrading systems on-premise. An additional benefit is that cloud services are also automatically upgraded by the service provider.

The cloud has made it easier for businesses to connect with their audience, cloud-based applications have simplified the process of integrating social media, web and email marketing campaigns. One of the most exciting aspects of cloud-based solutions is interoperability and intelligence. Intelligence brings real-world advantage with cloud solutions now effectively making every small business analytics driven. Cloud solutions are combining people, data, systems and processes for a real-time view of what’s going on.

Ultimately, the cloud gives the small business workforce the flexibility to work anywhere and anytime.

* IDC, Worldwide SMB Public IT Cloud Services 2014–2018 Forecast, Oct14

 

 

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Craig Such, Founder and MD, Azzure IT Craig Such is founder and MD of Azzure IT, the UK’s leading Microsoft Gold Partner. Azzure IT is a specialist ERP solution provider, globally recognised by Microsoft as one of the top four companies in the world delivering ERP systems to small and medium sized businesses. With over 20 years’ proven experience, Azzure IT helps businesses improve efficiency and productivity in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, distribution, and professional services.