In a world constantly adapting to the demands and capabilities of modern technology, the two traits an SMB ought to possess in order to maintain growth is agility and flexibility. Often enough, smaller businesses will catch up with their own construction as they expand, and will look to surpass their current infrastructure capabilities. They will deploy new servers and invest in speeding up their current estate – which can cost a lot of time and money. These companies focus too much on pushing their current boundaries and expanding on their current infrastructures, when really, they ought to look at other ways of working that might better benefit the business.
Cloud technologies give SMBs the agility and flexibility required to grow, without the huge cost implications. The Cloud allows employees to work remotely, meaning that talent can be sourced from all over the world. More traditionally, SMBs have relied on people being present in the office to carry out their tasks, but cloud technologies successfully remove this barrier. This widens the net for SMBs in terms of access to the employee talent pool and thereby keeps them competitive in a growing market.
The ability to work from anywhere with a WIFI connection also increases productivity, allowing employees to work while on the move. Creating working environments that fit employee needs in this way is as important to SMBs’ growth as demand for their product and services. The versatility of cloud technologies allows employees to enjoy flexible working, using whichever devices they feel most comfortable with – effectively making their lives easier. A happier workforce in turn leads to a more productive business model.
Furthermore, cloud technologies allow for greater agility through the reassurance of a third party, centralised platform. Companies that migrate to Google Cloud, for example, can deploy a whole new estate throughout the business that is managed centrally by Google, thereby reducing risk and increasing adaptability. Cloud platforms also offer ways of working where SMBs can have the best, most up-to-date apps available – such as Google Hangout – without breaking the bank to deploy them. This is a positive move away from the more expensive and time consuming methods of communication.
When it comes to using the Cloud to take SMBs to new heights, the needs of every company can differ considerably. Before looking to deploy cloud technologies, companies must first ask themselves, what are their growing pains and how might they look to mitigate them? What’s the best migration to suit their business model? What is it they’re hoping to achieve as a business? Cloud software is relatively straightforward to deploy, effectively moving items from a business’s existing server over to the Cloud. The challenge is not deploying the technology itself, but understanding what the business is trying to achieve in doing so.
Many SMBs will make the mistake of believing that by merely replicating their infrastructure in the cloud that their cloud journey is complete; their infrastructure looks and feels the same but is now in a data centre owned by Google, Amazon or Microsoft. Lifting and shifting infrastructure in this manner should be a short term goal if unavoidable. Organisations will not reap the benefits of public cloud, nor achieve the dream that they were promised without adapting workflows and applications to make use of the services on offer. Instead, they need to understand change management and the importance of moving away from traditional IT infrastructures.
With this in mind, a move to the Cloud – carried out effectively and adapted specifically to the business model – can allow for the greater flexibility and agility required for SMBs to stand a chance of keeping up in a digital age. There are some fantastic Cloud products out there that can help SMBs get started with an infrastructure transformation. CloudMigrator, for example, facilitates the migration of files, email and calendars to either G Suite or Office 365, while CloudManager facilitates the management of an organisation’s G Suite estate. RingCentral is a system that provides cloud based telephoning, while Virtru offers email and file encryption to boost cloud security.
In 2018 we will continue to see organisations of all varieties boldly invest in public cloud strategies. This will span across various deployment models: Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Google and Amazon, for example, offer services that are more than 10 years old and are therefore considered tried, tested and mature. Considering this alone, it is fair to say that the core offerings of these providers can and will play a pivotal role in SMB growth.