Do you know what systems the leaders in your industry are using?
Sometimes it can be hard to know what the competition is up to, but without a doubt over half of Australian small businesses surveyed in the 2016 SmartCompany SME Directions Survey are already using cloud based software, and the number is growing. Within two years, it’s expected that more than three-quarters of Australian businesses will be using cloud technology.
This trend is backed up further by another report from Gartner Group, which surveyed businesses from around the world. The Gartner report, Survey Analysis: Buyers Reveal Cloud Application Adoption Plans Through 2017, reveals that business are now using cloud technology for “mission critical” operations. That is to say, the cloud is no longer just for one off projects, businesses are running their core operations via the cloud.
It’s worth noting that many small businesses don’t realise how much of their business is already done in the cloud. If you check your bank balance online, you’re using cloud technology. Posting to Facebook, that’s cloud again. Using Dropbox, OneDrive or Google services, that’s all cloud computing.
Here are the five benefits of using cloud computing in your small business.
1. Real-time data
Real-time access to data is the number one benefit of cloud technology for small businesses, according to the SmartCompany SME Directions Survey. By having your team operate in the cloud, everyone with authorised access can use the same source of truth – the same up-to-the-minute information that is useful for their role in the business.
The pace of change in business has never been greater and your team needs to be able to respond quickly using accurate and up-to-the minute information to provide customers with exceptional customer service – every time. When you have multiple ways customers can buy from you (in-store, online, via a sales rep on the road or email and phone orders) inventory levels across all channels needs to be visible, accurate and well managed.
Real time data also allows you to track your business performance across all key indicators so you can take action. The right system will allow you to log in and see data, reports and analysis straight away, or even schedule updates to be sent to you.
Many who are first looking into cloud technology perceive it as having drawbacks when it comes to security. However, there are significant advantages of cloud computing over on-premise systems.
On-premise systems rely on servers being kept at a physical location, which can sometimes be less secure. For example, how accessible is your server to others? Are employees transferring valuable business data on to portable USB devices? Is your server in a cool, air conditioned location to keep temperatures down and increase the longevity of your hardware? Is your data being backed up daily to off-site disaster recovery centres in case something should go wrong at your location?
Cloud based software removes these security flaws completely. In the cloud, your vendor keeps your data in high security server sites, with inbuilt backup and redundancy.
3. Remote access and flexibility
With cloud computing you can work from anywhere. You can access your files and data while with a client, while travelling or while at home. Imagine how much time it could save if your employees no longer had to send a request to your accounts department for an invoice copy or check on the status of a client’s support case. Or if your sales people out visiting clients could log in and provide real-time stock and product details, order history and back order lead time.
4. Faster implementation
On-premise ERP solutions have traditionally required considerable business disruption, allocating employee resources to work on the project, set up and maintenance of physical equipment to run your ERP, and a number of other factors. This all contributes to the total time needed from purchasing your solution to actually getting running with it.
Cloud software solutions can be much quicker to implement and get running if your vendor offers the right rapid implementation methodologies. SaaS implementations can be deployed in stages so you can get your core system up and running quickly, given the right resource focus and investment from both the vendor and the customer.
5. Simplify complexity
When everyone has access to the same information, something profound happens: systems become unified, and processes become streamlined. You can then start to roll out standard processes across your organisation. Employees in different geographic locations are using the same system, with the same source of information, and are naturally able to follow the same processes. This new streamlined simplicity frees up time and energy for everyone to focus on better servicing your customer and growth opportunities for your business.
Stephen Canning is the CEO of JCurve Solutions (JCS) is one of the largest Australian and New Zealand solution providers of NetSuite, the global leader in cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.