Small Businesses Seek to Take off with the Cloud

 Cloud computing isn’t just for large-scale, enterprise organizations.  More and more small businesses are moving to the cloud, and enjoying the greater flexibility and freedom of movement that cloud computing offers.  With Office 365, you really can work from anywhere, anytime.  Contact Agile IT today to get started in the cloud, and never again be fettered by the confines of an office.

The co-owner of a small Florida-based company was about to have a baby so she sought a more flexible way to run her business.

She found the answer in cloud computing technology.

Julia Suriano, co-owner of Kebroak BBQ Company, a 7-person operation that imports and distributes charcoal to retailers and restaurants across the country, needs access to company information quickly and from anywhere.

“I may be with my kids but while I’m at their tennis practice, I can access my client information and make decisions and get information to people working in the office,” Suriano told Computerworld.

Kebroak BBQ is one of the many small businesses that are making the move to cloud.

According to a recent Emergent Research study, 74% of small businesses (companies with less than 50 employees) report using some cloud-based applications - most commonly email, online banking and social media.

As the gradual start grows, Emergent expects that the cloud computing will change how small businesses operate by 2020.

A lot of small business owners and managers have the same misgivings - mainly security and uptime - as their enterprise counterparts. At the same time, Emergent’s survey of 500 small business executives in June found that 37% are completely or very confident in the cloud.

That means 63% are not so confident.

“Even though they’re using the cloud, most of them still aren’t comfortable with it,” said Steven King, an Emergent partner and analyst. “When you start talking about putting your financials in the cloud - the systems you rely on - that’s when they cite security and downtime fears. That’s the point where they’re not comfortable with the cloud yet.”

Suriano said she hasn’t had any trouble with cloud outages or security issues but she has warned employees to be careful when storing information from outside of the office.

However, she said that warning employees to be cautious is a small price to pay for the benefits of cloud computing.

“I think there are more benefits than risks,” Suriano said.

King predicts that Suriano’s attitude toward cloud computing should quickly spread to other small business owners.

“The big shift to the cloud is going to give them efficiency - cheaper, faster and easier access to tools and applications,” he said. “If you’re a small business, you could have a customer relationship management system on your own server but that needs to be installed, maintained and supported. If you do that in the cloud, all of that work goes away so it becomes cheaper and easier to manage and install.”

That means small companies will have a better chance to take on not only other small competitors, but larger businesses as well.

“Looking at startups and the one- and two-man shops, the cloud is a godsend because then they don’t have to invest in buying servers and getting that IT infrastructure in place to launch or run their business,” said Jagdish Rebello, an analyst at IHS iSuppli. “They can host all of that on the cloud and put their focus on their business and not on IT.”

“They’re already starting to move a lot of their own applications and services to the cloud,” he added. “It will make smaller businesses more nimble and efficient. I think you’ll see businesses change the way they operate.”

This article excerpt, by Sharon Gaudin, originally appeared here:

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