Cloud computing can mean big changes for small businesses. Those changes have been realized by many of today’s small-business owners, from tech startups in the heart of Silicon Valley to urban and small-town mom-and-pop shops.
Today, 37 percent of U.S. small businesses have fully adapted to cloud computing, and a 2014 Intuit study predicts that percentage will more than double to 80 percent by 2020. The cloud is redefining the way small businesses do business. Here are four reasons small-business owners should consider migrating to the cloud:
1. Lower costs
One of the most obvious benefits of moving everyday business to the cloud is that it can provide small businesses with significant savings. For starters, cloud computing fully utilizes hardware. Virtualization increases the value of physical server hardware, meaning businesses can do more with less.
As a result, small businesses will see a decrease in rack space, power usage, IT requirements, etc. That means lower installation, maintenance, hardware, upgrade and support costs. For small businesses, especially, those savings are invaluable.
2. Better collaboration
Collaboration is made easy in the cloud. The ability to save and access various files through the cloud enables employees to easily work from the same master document. Cloud collaboration tools, such as Google Drive, allow users to upload, edit and comment on documents, which makes for better workplace collaboration. Additionally, employers can opt to limit what employees can access.
Not to mention, being able to access files through the cloud makes it easy for small-business owners to track and manage individual progress on assignments. How’s that for efficiency?
3. Increased flexibility
One of the most alluring benefits of cloud computing is being able to access work-related files and information from any device in any place at any time. We live in a mobile world. Long gone are the days where files are stuck on a single server on a single computer.
As the workplace begins to cater to more remote workers and flexible working arrangements, being able to access work materials, when not at work, is essential for employees. Not only does cloud computing make it easier for employees to work outside of the office, it makes it easier for small-business owners to manage their business at any time of day, from anywhere.
What’s more, increased mobility and flexibility in the cloud can lead to additional cost savings. For instance, small-business owners can opt to implement BYOD (bring your own device). Employees can work on devices they already own and are comfortable with, such as tablets and laptops -- even their smartphones (to each their own, right?).
4. Greater integration
Adopting a cloud-based business solution creates multiple opportunities for integration -- and simplified integration, at that. Cloud-adapted small businesses have the option of integrating with various cloud-based providers.
Small businesses can take advantage of specialized services that integrate with back-office operations, from human resources to marketing to accounting. These opportunities for integration give small-business owners more time to focus on the more critical areas of business.
This article was originally written by Andre Lavoie on Entrepreneur.