Today’s businesses are all about the cloud. With so many killer services and apps on the market today, it’s hard to argue against it.
Servers are scalable on demand with zero necessary maintenance. Data is automatically backed up in multiple locations and accessible from anywhere in the world. And cloud-based apps that make all aspects of business operations smoother and easier are readily available.
What’s more, many of the best tools are made to integrate with one another so they can work together and send data across systems seamlessly. And with all of this tech accessible to the masses, it’s easier than ever for hungry entrepreneurs to build, release, maintain and iterate their own apps, which means that the software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecosystem is an increasingly happening place with increasing product quality and diversity.
The benefits of running your business with cloud-based apps are substantial and numerous. Here are four key ones to consider.
- Freedom of Location and Collaboration
With cloud business apps, everyone can access everything from everywhere. Cloud-hosted apps make it possible for you, your contractors, your customers and any other relevant stakeholders to use everything needed at all times, from anywhere in the world, using any web-connected device.
Working environments, documents, rich databases, content, spreadsheets and presentations are no longer stuck on a single piece of hardware. You no longer have to protect that disk-on-key with your life, or handcuff your briefcase to your wrist while boarding airplanes. Everything is accessible from wherever you land.
If you’re like most businesspeople who haven’t made the leap to the cloud yet, you have 17 versions of the same document sitting in your inbox, so that when you send number 18 to your team, forgetting to label it as such, no one’s sure whether or not they’re working off the most updated version. The cloud, therefore, saves you from the mutinous grumblings of your staff and your partners – it allows everyone to work from the same master source at once.
Worried about access permissions or security? With better cloud business apps, administrators can intuitively and seamlessly implement governance controls.
- Risk Mitigation
The cloud provides superior security in two forms. Firstly, by backing up your data offsite, you are exponentially decreasing your exposure to viruses and cyber-security lapses. Beyond the perils of hackers and piracy, consider natural disasters that could wipe you out if everything is stored in one physical location.
Secondly, in the rare event that your data is lost or corrupted, with the cloud, it’s easy to get back up and running. Cloud services significantly reduce any concerns surrounding disaster recovery and redundancy, since providers have set up processes for dealing with these scenarios that won’t wipe out your organization’s finances and won’t keep you from working for days on end.
- Fiscal Efficiency
Businesses that operate in the cloud spend less. Even those that aren’t running on their own cloud servers but dabble in cloud-based apps can benefit from the lower costs involved, as the savings are passed along to the user.
Cloud data implementations can take up to 50% less time to set up, and the total cost of ownership can be up to 46% cheaper. Moreover, cloud-hosted servers enable mass-scale computing power and minimize IT requirements and physical storage, which makes for additional savings. For example, when the U.S. General Services Administration moved 17,000 users to the cloud, they cut their energy use by 90%. That’s just smart finance. The scale of that specific example might be dramatically different from your own business data needs, but a percentage is a percentage.
Another fiscal aspect to consider is cash flow – initial investment versus paying as you go. Not long ago, businesses had to estimate how much server space they’d need on what timeline, sourcing and setting up hardware accordingly. Most cloud companies, on the other hand, be they SaaS or virtual server providers, offer monthly plans that allow your business to grow at its own speed, while only paying for the capabilities that you’re actually using. So with the cloud, you have the option of zero upfront investment in costly hardware that would eventually become outdated anyway.
- Test Driving Flexibility
Convinced that the cloud is worth checking out for your business but not sure yet if you’re ready to fully commit? No problem. There are plenty of superb services, platforms and apps that operate on a free SaaS basis, allowing you to connect to their systems at no cost.
Together, these business apps provide a major opportunity. You can continue to work with the technical infrastructure that your business currently depends on, while dabbling with cloud apps and servers on a redundant basis. You can always walk away if you don’t like it, but you also get a feel for how the cloud can change the game for you at zero risk. One by one, as you get comfortable with their cloud-based counterparts, you’re likely to drop your current locally hosted business apps – but this way, you can do it at a trajectory that’s comfortable for you.
Stop Storing Your Own
SaaS business apps make a lot of sense for the way today’s micropreneurs work. Take a free one for a spin. You may never go back.