Not all clouds have a silver lining… some have gold

I work with a lot of business leaders and they all have one thing in common: they want the freedom to grow their business. Now, we have all witnessed some fairly major technological developments in recent years; high speed broadband, smart phones, social media, laptops that barely weigh a thing, but my favourite is Cloud.

But Cloud has been around for longer than people think.  Don’t quote me on it, but I bet you have been working in the cloud longer than you realise.  When I explain to clients who are looking to grow their business that the cloud should be a serious discussion point, I often get quizzical looks.  Remember, if your current IT support provider does not provide cloud based solutions, they are more likely to guide you down the server route as that’s what they support, and you will be comfortable with that because that’s what you’ve always known.   Once I have explained what Cloud brings to the table, the energy in the room changes.

What’s all the fuss about?

So why do I (and my clients) get so excited about the prospect of cloud for growing their business?  Here are just a few thoughts:

  • Flexibility of cost – many providers allow you to scale up and down according to your business conditions, (cash is king, especially at the moment)
  • Flexibility of location – let’s say you meet a top sales person, but they are not based near to you, why not ensure that they have a decent broadband connection, a computer, a phone (all of which most people already have access to these days) and they’re ready to go.  Let’s say you want a new CRM, many are in the Cloud and keep your data really safe and more available than your server could.
  • Capital expenditure is massively reduced – perhaps there’s now no need to upgrade, or buy a new server
  • Staff salaries are reduced or avoided – there is less need for IT staff to manage a cloud-based environment as it is outside the building and the maintenance is normally covered within the rental of the system.

Note, that none of the reasons above are technical ones… they are serious business considerations.

Are there any negatives?

The usual rumours surrounding new technology are around: lack of security, lack of control, “I don’t own my own data”.  All of these fears can be overcome by asking questions about these issues and getting concrete, plain English answers from the suppliers.

The ultimate negative…?  The more you use, the more you spend…. But as I always say to my clients, if you are scaling up your business, it is for good reason – you are becoming more successful and need more resources, and what a great problem to have!

Look for that Silver Lining, you may find Gold Instead!

The last couple of years have been a very challenging time for many businesses.  2011 is going to be a good year for businesses who go into it thinking more creatively about the environment they operate in, and consider technology that may give them the edge (and the cash) to grow their business out of the recession.