Many small business aren’t making the most of the cloud due to a lack of knowledge and concerns around the security of data, in response to this MYOB has put together a list of the top 5 ways businesses can make better use of the technology.
MYOB CEO Tim Reed said the cloud has been changing business for the better, yet confusion about its definition and uncertainty about its benefits are still fairly widespread among small business owners.
“Cloud is the delivery of hardware and software, such as email, office applications, file storage and accounting, over the internet,” he said.
“There are many benefits and collectively they provide a strong opportunity to increase business productivity so you have more time and money to concentrate on growth building activities, and to be more competitive locally and globally,” he added.
A MYOB study found businesses utilising the cloud were 53 percent more likely to experience a revenue rise last financial year and 55 percent more likely to have more sales/work than usual in their three-month pipeline than those who weren’t.
MYOB’s top five cloud computing tips for small business:
1. Research trustworthy cloud service providers– look for information on the providers’ websites and via independent sources such as technology blogs, industry publications and research reports. Look at their credibility, technology expertise and reputation. Consider seeking advice from IT consultants, financial advisors and other business owners.
2. Review benefits and considerations of different cloud models- cloud computing can take on many forms. Some require you to learn new tools while others leverage your existing know-how, some only work when you’re connected to the internet, others also work in offline modes. Focus on the business benefits and then determine the technology required. For example, if you’re interested in the ability to have online and offline access to your data anywhere, anytime, consider cloud-enabled software solutions that offer the best of both worlds: cloud, desktop, or both.
3. Prioritise security– the cloud involves accessing applications, information and data over the internet via a third-party provider. Therefore, the providers’ security policies and procedures should be robust. This includes physical security of the server facility with 24 hour a day, 365 days a year video surveillance and strict personnel access control, firewalls, anti-virus protection, spam filters, disaster recovery and independent auditing and testing.
4. Read the fine print- be sure to check whether there are any hidden costs, add-ons or other features that will take up extra time and money to get everything running. Also enquire about the providers’ service level agreements (SLAs), especially in the event of an unexpected or planned outage for maintenance reasons.
5. Evaluate your own IT processes and systems- evaluate your own IT processes and systems before migrating to the cloud as each business is unique and has varying budgets and capacities. Ask yourself whether you will require cloud access for all staff and for multiple devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones.