When should small businesses begin moving to the cloud? The sooner, the better. As companies grow, so do their technology needs, and cloud solutions grow with them.
Say you're starting a new business. In the beginning, it's just you and perhaps a few partners or employees. You're in startup mode. It's all jeans, flip-flops, and foosball tables while you work out of someone's garage (at least in Silicon Valley). For most entrepreneurs, it's usually more like jeans and flip-flops at the kitchen table. Either way, it's an exciting time, and a simpler one — at least in terms of your telecom needs. Outfit everyone with a computer and a unified business phone system, and you're up and running.
As the business takes off, you hire a few salespeople who need customer relationship management (CRM) software, and then a bookkeeper who needs accounting software, and then a marketer who implements a new email marketing platform.
These tools can be costly, and they work best when they work together. That's the beauty of moving to the cloud, or better yet, starting out in the cloud.
All the Cool Kids Are Doing It
Businesses of all shapes and sizes are moving to the cloud. For larger companies, this can be a large undertaking. It often requires abandoning legacy systems in which they've made a sizable investment (which stings a little), transferring large data sets (not a picnic for IT), and overhauling business processes and workflows (not a picnic for anyone). The effort is worth it, as there are many cloud migration benefits, including scalability, reliability, increased mobility and better analytics and reporting. However, there's no question that it's a big job.
Smaller companies have an advantage, since they can start out where enterprises want to end up: in the cloud. Of course, more established SMBs might have already invested in traditional software, onsite servers, and communication tools that aren't in the cloud. Still, it's easier to make the jump sooner rather than later.
It's like moving to a new home when you're 25 versus when you're 45. In your 20s, a couple friends with pickup trucks can move you and your IKEA furniture in an afternoon. By the time you hit your 40s, you've accumulated heavy furniture and so many keepsakes that you need a team of movers and a small fleet of semi-trucks.
The same is true for IT. The smaller and sleeker the organization, the faster it can transition to the cloud and start to reap the benefits.
Three Ways Moving to the Cloud Can Jump-Start Your Small-Business Journey
Cloud solutions help to boost productivity, lower IT costs, and build scalable infrastructures. That's good news for any company, but especially for small businesses that want to accelerate growth.
Whether you're running a startup or an established business with hundreds of employees, cloud technology enables you to do the following:
- Get Champagne Technology on a Beer Budget: Because cloud solutions don't require hardware investments or lengthy implementations, there are fewer up-front costs than with traditional software. They require little, if any, onsite IT maintenance. And with the pay-per-use model of most cloud solutions, if you only have a dozen employees, you don't pay the same price as large corporations with hundreds or thousands of users.
- Satisfy Your Inner Goldilocks: With traditional software, small businesses often have two choices: Buy enterprise-level solutions with bells and whistles they don't need, or buy slimmed-down versions they'll most certainly outgrow. One is too big; one is too small. Yet cloud solutions are "just right." They're also highly scalable, so you can add new features, users, and storage space if and when you need them. You can also scale back as your business fluctuates.
- Make Your Toys Play Nice Together: Cloud solutions don't just help people communicate more effectively. Many cloud services providers design their technology to communicate with other technology. These cloud integrations can streamline workflows, improve collaboration, and provide better insights into customer and company data. For example, when you integrate your phone system and CRM, you can automatically log calls and track customer interactions. When your CRM and accounting software work together, customer data stays up-to-date in both applications. When your marketing automation platform can pull data from your e-commerce tools, marketers get better customer insights and can improve lead generation.
In a nutshell, moving to the cloud gives your team access to cutting-edge technology without breaking your budget. Your people and your technology can more easily work together and work from anywhere.
Interested in the cloud? Vonage CEO Alan Masarek recently spoke at Enterprise Connect at a panel titled, "What Role (If Any) Should Cloud Communications Play in Your Enterprise?" You can learn more here.