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Cloud and competitive advantage – a heavenly match?

When MYOB surveyed 1,000+ SMEs in Australia about their cloud technology usage, we found those who had incorporated it into their business were more likely to see financial success and were more positive about their business activities. 

We also found what appeared to be a significant gap in their understanding of cloud versus their usage of cloud.

Four in five SMEs say they don’t use it for business. Sound like you? You might be surprised at what you’re already using but don’t realise is cloud. Internet banking, Hotmail and DropBox are just some examples.

For almost one in two of our respondents, a key barrier to adoption of the cloud in their business was lack of knowledge. Nearly half were concerned about the safety and security of data in the cloud. The fear of the unknown is understandable, but often not realistic. In the case of the cloud, is your data really safer on the office server or local drive than it is on multiple servers owned and operated by, say, Microsoft?

The conversations we have every day with business owners shows us that uncertainty about the cloud concept is fairly widespread. Technology is often not simple to get your head around. Perhaps consider first concentrating on the productivity and financial benefits more so than the technology behind the scenes, then decide what exactly you need to know about the latter.

For example – the mobility, flexibility and scalability benefits have revolutionised business for some people.

Reap the rewards

According to our research, business operators using the cloud were much more likely to experience positive financial and operational results – and were also more likely to expect such results in future.

They were 53 percent more likely to see a revenue rise in the past year and were also more likely to:

  • Have more sales/work than usual in their three-month pipeline (55 percent versus 25 percent of those not using the cloud)
  • Expect their revenue to rise in the next year (44 percent versus 26 percent)
  • Expect the economy to improve within 12 months (34 percent versus 18 percent).

Serious competitive advantage

If you’re still ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ about cloud, consider the most popular reasons amongst respondents for using it: the ability to access data from whatever location they wanted (42 percent) followed by being able to have their team members work remotely (28percent). Also ranked highly were reducing the number/range of IT issues they have to deal with personally and their data was better protected and safer online on external servers.

The cloud provides the freedom to work anywhere at any time – whether you’re on the road, in the office or at home – so you can continue to reach your customers, partners and suppliers while still enjoying a connection to the office. That freedom is priceless. Luckily, using cloud technology can often reduce the amount of time and money you spend on business processes.

For example, a solution like AccountRight Live – next generation cloud accounting – not only enables you to work on the same business data file offline as well as online (the two are synced), you can authorise others to access it. This lets you and your staff work on the data at the same time and eliminates the need to send it to, say, your accountant or book keeper via CD, USB, email and other less secure means.

Whatever direction you decide to go in when it comes to cloud, be sure to do your research and choose a trustworthy provider with a solid history. There’s plenty of information and support out there to help you through and this will only increase as the cloud becomes even more commonplace.