One of the key messages of cloud computing for small businesses that has come through loud and clear is that renting IT services in the cloud rather than buying them outright is great for cashflow because there are no upfront costs.
But that’s only scratching the surface. There are many more reasons why Cloud services like Office 365 make serious financial sense; so let’s put the technology to one side and talk business: here are no less than ten further reasons for putting Cloud computing at the heart of your financial planning.
1) Avoid nasty surprises
Cutting out the upfront costs of your IT is great, but there’s another piece of the rental model which helps small businesses: predictability. When you buy Cloud services, you benefit from entirely predictable monthly fees for the duration of a contract. It’s nice to know exactly what your technology costs will be, twelve months or more down the line.
2) Scale up, scale down
You can turn users on or off in the Cloud at will. If new staff join, you can activate them immediately. Whereas, if you had your own in-house technology, you might have to buy new and install new hardware and software just to get an employee work-ready. Downsizing is even harder: companies losing staff end up with low-value unwanted IT; whereas terminating a Cloud account is as simple as turning off a tap.
3) Cut out support costs
In the Cloud, support is someone else’s problem. If you have an IT Support company, you can expect to see a bit less of them. If, like most one-man bands, you shell out to solve crises as they occur, you can expect a lot less of those heart-stopping moments, too. Cloud services are also extremely reliable - Microsoft Office 365, for example, promises 99.9% availability. That’s equivalent to being on duty 24/7 all year apart from a little bit of Christmas Day.
4) Minimise risk
Risk is money (if you don’t believe us, just look at your last car insurance bill). In the Cloud, data security is managed more effectively than you could ever achieve by yourself. Microsoft’s data centres, for example, are protected by nine layers of independent security measures. That keeps your data safe, secure, and off-site from your day-to-day business activities. Less risk means less worry, no clean-up bills, and a strong company reputation.
5) Find profits by chasing opportunities
A lot of the discussions around Cloud computing are about cutting costs; but it can also help you find new profits too. In the old days, if you had a good idea for a new product, service, application of your skills etc.; it could take time and money to evolve into a workable business. You couldn’t just take computers from one line of business and divert those IT resources onto your new project. Today, instead, you can switch on new IT on demand. There’s no reason you can’t have email, a web presence, collaboration tools and plenty more to support your big push - in less than 24 hours; all without affecting your existing business.
6) Stay up to date
Nobody wants to buy from a company with a rusty old van, and it probably drinks more petrol, too. Similarly, it’s hard to be competitive using yesterday’s software. Yet most companies put off purchasing software for as long as possible – after all, it’s an expense. This constant conflict between frugal finances and competitive advantage is wiped out with Cloud services: you’ll always have access to the latest software and upgrades, the moment they are released. That means you’re always ahead of the game, and can offer the best services, with the best margins, possible.
7) Put a value on your own time
In a small company, you’re not just the MD. You’re the sales team, delivery specialist, and the teaboy (or girl) too. The last thing you need is to deal with IT too. Transferring responsibility to a Cloud provider means you can get on with what you do best: earning money.
8) Less machine, more green
Every service outsourced to the Cloud means less machinery sitting on your premises. That also means lower electricity bills (especially if you’re used to leaving kit on overnight), and it’s good for the environment, too!
9) Get more IT for your money
Most businesses today have email. You’ve probably got Office, too, for letters, invoices, marketing materials and the like. But from just £4 per month, Office 365 puts far more technology at your disposal. You can build a website with SharePoint, conduct online meetings and presentations with Lync Online, access documents on the go with Office Web Apps and collaborate with colleagues, business partners and customers through SharePoint and Exchange. All of these tools will allow you to provide a better and more profitable service without financial or staff overhead.
10) Cut out other business costs
As IT develops to offers services which replace other traditional business costs, you can look to the Cloud to provide reduced expenditure in other areas of business activity. Email, for example, has largely replaced postage costs for marketing. Similarly, Lync Online includes facilities for PC-to-PC audio and video calls – a nice way to trim your phone bills.
Need more convincing? Get a free trial today.