Cloud computing can offer businesses a wide range of benefits. For those of you not yet sure of what cloud computing is, in the simplest terms it means to access data and programs over an internet connection (usually in your web browser) rather than on your computer’s hard-drive. The most common example of this is logging into your Gmail or Hotmail account, these are cloud-based email services.
With the ability to put almost anything in the cloud you can reduce hardware costs, software costs, reduce man hours required for certain tasks and reduce/eliminate office space dependencies.
Because so many possibilities, it can be difficult to know where to start, so here is a list of five operations within your business that you can move to the cloud today.
Email – Does your email system go down when your servers go down? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to send an email to co-workers, stakeholders or clients when you’re in the midst of a technical crisis? Consider using a service like Google Apps for Business (www.google.com/apps) to manage your email systems.
File storage – Storing your files in the cloud can benefit your business in a number of ways. By storing them in the cloud, you no longer have to be in the office to access your files, you can work from anywhere. Your files are backed up in a location that is external to your premises, meaning that no matter what happens at your premises, your files are safe. Finally, you no longer have to worry about running out of space and updating your hardware, want more space in the cloud? You can probably purchase it in a matter of clicks! Want to give it a go? Try Dropbox (www.dropbox.com)
Telephony – There eventually comes a time in business when you need a more robust phone system and that usually means forking out the cost for the upgraded infrastructure. Instead, why not use a cloud-based phone solution, that way all the features you want are a click away and your clients still get a landline number to call you on, they won’t know the difference but your budget will. To get started, try Skype (www.skype.com)
Document Processing – Instead of using your traditional software to write documents, create spreadsheets and design presentations, next time try using a cloud-based app. By processing your documents in the cloud, they are accessible from anywhere, are backed up and safe automatically and in many cases can be edited by multiple people at once, with the ability the watch the other person edit it live. For online document processing, take a look at Google Drive (www.google.com/drive)
Project Management – When running a project there are often many people involved, not always in the one location and it can be difficult keeping track of changes to the project. By running a project in the cloud there is a single source of truth to your entire project ensuring your team are all on the same page. Take a look at Basecamp (www.basecamp.com)
There are many more business tools you can find in the cloud and thankfully many of them come with free versions, trial periods or money back guarantees, giving you a chance to try out the cloud and see how it can work for your business.