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Cloud DataSince Babylonian times, when business records were written on clay tablets, the systems and strategies of business have evolved and changed. When seeking how to evolve in your own work, you want something that supports, enhances and protects your business.

One of the most useful innovations in recent times has been the cloud. The cloud allows you to use files and applications over the Internet. Whether you are a small mom and pop shop, a solo entrepreneur or Fortune 500 company, cloud computing is the way to go forward, taking your attention to detail and the ability to work from anywhere to the next level.

Cloud computing, also known as on-demand computing, is a trend that is rapidly transforming how business is done. It’s an Internet-based computing system that provides shared resources and data to many kinds of devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktop computers, giving both small and large companies the versatility to work in an on-demand access modality, with the ability to share a pool of resources.

For businesses of any size, it offers a slick combination of inexpensive cost of services, performance, availability and scalability. A trend has turned into a profound movement that is transforming the world of business.

Since 2012, major companies such as Netflix, Instagram, Xerox, Apple, Pinterest, Etsy, and MediaMath have taken the cloud by storm and have reinvented the way business is done. Almost all of their business is now based in the cloud. Companies like Etsy and Pinterest are large businesses with the mission of supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs. The cloud allows this alignment of big business and small business in a seamless interface.

Although the beginnings of cloud computing stretch back to the 1990s, it didn’t take hold in the mainstream until 2012. According to Forbes, 37% of all U.S. small businesses are now in the cloud, but the business magazine predicts that 78% will be fully adapted to using cloud computing by 2020. Additionally, hybrid cloud, a mixture of public and private cloud platforms, is now being used by 18% of small businesses.

There are several important reasons to consider moving your business to the cloud:

Lower Cost

There are significant savings in moving part or all of your everyday business to the cloud.

Cloud computing lowers the need for on-site, physical server hardware, because cloud-based applications are hosted by the company providing that application. This means small businesses can do more with less and maximize their ability to seem bigger than they are. By using the cloud, businesses can also protect themselves from losing all their information in an expensive computer crash, because the hosting company often provides back-up services in addition to application access.

Moving operations to the cloud lowers the cost of hardware, application upgrades, support and maintenance. Cloud computing systems reduce the need for the fastest computer with the most memory, thus allowing the business to buy less expensive computers for employee use in addition to saving on other hardware costs.

This can be a make or break financial decision in the tight budgets of small businesses, where margins are often fractions of a dollar, and time saved and used well can make a difference in profits.

Collaboration

Collaboration is among the best offerings of the cloud. Business owners can monitor day-to-day business tasks in real-time, from anywhere they can connect to the Internet. The cloud gives the ability to access and save all kinds of files. Employees can work from the same master document.

Cloud storage services like Google Drive have the ability for users to upload, edit, comment and save documents. Employers can pick and choose how to limit the employees access, thus allowing a divergent number of employees to work on separate documents without risking the integrity of sensitive documents. This gives an element of security that, in traditional methods of computing, would cost a small business a great deal of money.

Flexibility and Mobility

The cloud can be accessed anywhere, from any device, as long as it can connect to the Internet. Employees are no longer tied to one single computer containing vital documents, but can log in and access the same documents from anywhere with Internet access. This allows an employee to work from home or check in while traveling for business.

More and more workers are requesting flexible working arrangements and the ability to access work from anywhere in the world. No longer will bad weather, bad traffic or illness hamper the ability to work on a document. Employees who can’t reach the office but don’t want to take time off can log in from home to work, instead. This flexibility can save employees and employers a great deal of stress in a pinch, by playing to the strength of mobility.

Cloud computing allows small business owners to manage their businesses from anywhere, at any time. This has brought all the important files to the flexibility of a smartphone or tablet at a business dinner, without the bulk of paper. There’s no need for clients to wait until an executive can take them “back to the office” at a later time. This immediacy of access can transform a small business’s success.

Integration

Implementing a cloud-based business solution allows for a variety opportunities. Small businesses can benefit from a variety of services that other businesses provide, from banking to marketing to accounting to human resources. These opportunities allow a business to grow and succeed without having to become too big internally. It allows for speedy growth with minimal growing pains, by using established and successful back office operations to be outsourced.

Adopting a cloud-based business solution creates multiple opportunities for integration — and simplified integration, at that. Cloud-adapted small businesses have the option of integrating with various cloud-based providers. This allows a small entrepreneur to focus on the aspect of business that they do best.

Why aren’t you using cloud-based technology?

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