The cloud revolution

In recent years, the number of businesses turning to “the cloud” has increased exponentially. Cloud technology has become an IT essential for both small businesses and large enterprises alike. Why? Because it facilitates flexibility, agility and scalability. 

In 2010 just 48 per cent of SMEs in Britain were using cloud services. Fast forward to 2015, and 84 per cent of small and medium sized businesses in the UK have implemented cloud technology into their organisation. What’s more, almost four in five of these firms are using at least two cloud services.

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But why are so many businesses transitioning their operations to the cloud and what advantages does this deliver for your business? 

The business case for the cloud

Using cloud services enables SMEs to cut capital expenditure. This is often the primary driver for cloud migration, with UK businesses currently saving an average of 11 per cent from their use of the cloud, a figure forecast to rise to 19 per cent over the next five years. 

For businesses with a limited IT budget at their disposal, using a cloud provider is more efficient; not only are there fewer in-house costs, but critical business information is always readily available and the risk of data loss vastly reduced. Hosting IT systems outside of the business infrastructure also means firms can benefit from greater resilience and reliability, along with 24/7 access to IT support.

Ultimately, the financial flexibility of cloud services grant SMEs access to complex computing applications that would be otherwise inaccessible without significant financial investment. Thanks to “pay as you use” style cloud services firms can easily scale up or reduce their cloud use as business requirements dictate.

Intangible competitive advantages

For SMEs to stay ahead of the curve in today’s competitive landscape, agility is key. Cloud services facilitate this. What’s more, CIF’s latest research demonstrates that cloud computing offers a range of benefits that are more difficult to quantify, such as enabling businesses to become more responsive to customer needs and improving collaboration across the organisation.

For example, for SMEs, adopting a flexible approach to working hours can be transformative. By implementing cloud solutions into your business, staff are empowered to work remotely. The days of a workforce chained to their desks and restricted to the traditional 9-5 working hours are a thing of the past. Thanks to cloud technology, employees can now access the same computing services, platforms and power at home and on the move as they can in the office. This applies to all communications and processes, from emails and invoicing, to sales data and telephony. 

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The cloud also facilitates collaboration within the business. Now, thanks to cloud technology information can be stored and managed centrally. Employees can access and work in the same documents in real-time, without the need for hundreds of emails, sharing documents back and forth in attachments. Moreover, thanks to cloud based-productivity tools for email, calendar and file-sharing, such as Office 365, communication processes have also been streamlined. 

Why security is a silver lining

The misconception that storing company data “outside” the business is insecure prevails, with over 70 per cent of small and medium sized businesses citing this as the key reason for failing to move their applications to the cloud. Indeed, CIF’s latest research revealed that concerns about data security have risen by almost 10 per cent over the last year, despite the fact that 99 per cent of firms using cloud services have never been subject to a data breach. 

[easy-tweet tweet=”More than 70% of SMBs say security worries are the key reason for not moving applications to the cloud” usehashtags=”no”]

When it comes to security, cloud technology offers an advantage for SMEs. Using the cloud not only diminishes the risk of losing confidential data on a misplaced mobile device, laptop or USB stick, using established cloud providers also grant SMEs the added protection delivered by leading security experts and the vast amounts of resource service providers invest in ensuring their applications are secure. 

A bright future

Despite lingering security concerns, the outlook for the cloud industry looks bright. With cloud adoption among UK businesses at a record, we have reached a point where entire businesses can be run from the cloud. 

the outlook for the cloud industry looks bright

What’s more, this year more businesses than ever are planning to venture into the cloud for the first time and for those businesses already to taking advantage of the benefits it offers, additional services are being added every day. For SMEs to remain competitive, it’s no longer a matter of if, but when they choose to transition to the cloud.

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Ash Patel, Director of Business Transformation, Cobweb Solutions

A cloud man through and through, Ash has been working in the IT industry since he was only 16. After beginning as an IT lecturer at Uxbridge College, he then designed and developed wireless networks for cloud services delivery at Locustworld, working on projects at the 2010 Commonwealth Games village in New Delhi and multiple sites for the RAF across Europe and Asia. Before joining Cobweb, Ash refined his considerable cloud business acumen at Insight, where he was instrumental in growing the company’s cloud proposition, both in the UK and across EMEA.