By now, you have probably heard of cloud computing, however, most business owners are still unsure of what it actually entails – a knowledge gap that especially limits the potential of small- and medium-sized businesses, who stand to leverage the most from this technology.

The power of cloud technology comes from virtualisation – the process of creating logical computing resources without needing as many physical resources. For example, one physical hard drive could hold multiple virtual hard drives, allowing you to run multiple functions that each require their own set of resources.

As a result, small organisations can adopt systems as capable as those of their large competitors, enabling them to advance their promotional strategy and customer reach.

6 major business transformations created by cloud computing

1. Faster time to market

Cloud services mean vastly less time waiting for installations before your staff can get to work, when compared to hosting and managing your own hardware and software in-house. By decreasing the timeframes for resource provisioning and developing custom applications, you are able to speed up the time it takes to get your products, services and responses to your customers.

2. Lower capital expense

With cloud, you no longer rely on massive hardware acquisitions or expensive software investments, lowering the barriers for adopting desired practices. For example, under a non-cloud pricing model, you could pay thousands of dollars for a software suit that you may not make full use of – with no option to cancel and recoup your funds. These days, subscription based cloud services could see you paying a significantly reduced subscription price, only for as long as you need it.

Converting these capital expenses into operational expenses makes your overheads more transparent and predictable – an added benefit for budget forecasting.

3. Pay for consumption, not assumption

Cloud computing solutions are inherently scalable. If your user base grows, your capacity can too, at the touch of a button. The same applies if you need to reduce your capacity, due to reorganisation or strategic pivot. This means your organisation no longer has to make assumptions about such IT requirements down the track, and gamble on an initial investment. Instead, you simply pay for what you need, and adapt when this changes.

4. Limited need for technical support

Cloud solutions are much more straightforward to deploy and manage. The vendor is responsible for maintenance, upgrades and most security aspects, enabling managers and existing IT staff to focus on business benefits and process improvement rather than maintaining IT systems.

5. Better security & reliability

When your cloud services use a system maintained by a vendor for a wide range of organisations, system downtime carries a much larger and far-reaching impact, as multiple organisations across a range of industries may be affected. Thus, it becomes highly urgent and important for the vendor to ensure the latest security updates are applied, and to fixed issues as they occur. With managed cloud, you can expect to see reliability getting higher priority than for a single client with an on-premise solution.

6. Availability – it works anywhere!

For an end user, the true beauty of cloud is how available it is, no matter where you are. When you need to access your files while on the road, simply pull out your laptop or tablet and grab the information you need. This facilitates mobile workplace practices and work-from-home options, allowing you to offer greater flexibility to your employees.

A world of cloud

Cloud computing creates empowering opportunities for small businesses looking to grow, or simply battling for viability. For medium-sized organisations, it enables streamlined IT operations, allowing business processes to streamline.

Naturally, as businesses transform with technology, so too do their industries. Now more than ever, businesses face constant pressure to be quicker, smarter and more effective than their competitors. While cloud technology can ease the strain, it also raises the bar for what businesses can offer their customers, and increases the pressure to not get left behind.