Technology moves pretty fast these days, and the world of computing is usually at the cutting edge of the innovations. For businesses trying to keep up with the fast pace of this change it can seem like a never ending task. For small businesses, especially the self-employed, technology can be a major problem. IT may be completely out of your area of expertise and for smaller companies, managing on limited resources, it can be a subject that it’s easy to ignore. Computers, particularly the internet are crucial to business; ecommerce is taking over the world and internet retail is the only area of the economy that is continuing to grow. However much of a technophobe you would like to be now is simply not the time. Of course, just when you get your head around simple things, like turning on the computer, along comes some bright spark inventing Cloud computing. What’s all that about? Don’t run away, because this stuff could be important.
Cloud computing made simple
Cloud computing is a complex issue, but understanding it can be fairly simple. If you’ve used ‘Hotmail’ or ‘Gmail’ in the past, you’ve basically been cloud computing already. With cloud computing services, applications and software are ‘hosted’ remotely in the same way that a website is hosted. When you compose, send and receive emails on Hotmail, for example, they are being stored remotely elsewhere. You can access them from anywhere in the world, using any computer with an internet connection. That’s cloud computing, in a nutshell. Not so scary after all? So how does cloud computing help business.
For small businesses, especially the micro kind, there are some massive advantages. You’ll remember the time that your computer blew up and you lost pretty much all the important stuff, client database, email contacts, invoices and accounting records. Of course you had it all safely backed up didn’t you? Oh, dear, no? I’m sorry to say I’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, the straw donkey and the humorous sombrero. It’s not fun, but Cloud computing takes that pain away. For a small business when the computer does give up the ghost it may not be possible to immediately replace it. You might be able to manage on a laptop for a while, borrowed or otherwise, and being able to simply access all your ‘stuff’ from whatever PC is available – even down the library if absolutely necessary – makes a world of difference. It might even just save your business.
IT without the crowd
Cloud computing services can be simple or complex. Your data and applications can be based remotely, which has some serious benefits when it comes to software upgrades. Basically they just happen, without you having to even lift your mouse finger. It’s a little bit like having an IT team without the bad attitude. This can save time, and for the computer phobic, hassle. The simple facts that all data is securely stored elsewhere and that software is current, and stays that way, makes ‘business continuity’ a concept that is no longer the preserve of big business.
Small to medium solutions
For small businesses in which the office is wherever you happen to be, or needs to be accessible while out and about with clients, cloud computing offers the perfect solution. When it comes to accounting, online accounting software offers not only the security of constant back up, but also instant accessibility. If you’ve finished a job for a client you can produce an invoice on whatever mobile device you have to hand. This is then available at home, in the office, or down the pub.
Cloud computing is rapidly becoming the standard for medium to large businesses. For those who run smaller businesses or work alone, its benefits are if anything, even greater. Cloud solutions do not need to be expensive and you can choose packages that work for you. Online accounting software may be all you need or a larger package to create back-ups for important files or software systems may be necessary. Whatever you plan for your business in 2012 make sure it has its head in the Clouds. It’s not a bad place to be.
Carlo Pandian helps small business to find marketing solutions to sell their products. He blogs about business, technology and start-ups.