Search Google for cloud and you’ll turn up a lot of buzz phrases and acronyms that only make sense to those working in the technology sector. For the rest of us, cloud is simply being able to access files and applications over the internet.

If we cut through the jargon, it becomes easier to see some of the benefits of cloud computing. Here are a few examples of how it can be used for your business.

1.      Pay-per-use economics

Businesses who buy software on CDs need to manage the installations and upgrades themselves. Cloud computing makes it possible to get new software and pay for it on a per-use basis, so you can modernise your software without throwing money away.

You don’t need to invest in and maintain expensive datacentres yourself either. Smaller businesses can make use of enterprise technology without owning servers, paying expensive licence costs, or employing staff with the know-how to upkeep it.

2.      Mobility and productivity

When your software and files are stored in someone else’s data centre, all you need is your chosen device, and you can retrieve everything you use in the office. You can complete office tasks with nothing more than your mobile phone.

You can access and collaborate on documents using low cost services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Livedrive; view the same notes on any device using Evernote, OneNote, or Springpad; Check how your online marketing is performing; update budgets; pretty much anything you could do in the office, you can do from anywhere with an internet connection.

3.      Communication

The communication benefits of a Smartphone extend way beyond voice calls and text messaging when used in conjunction with web based services. We can keep communication personal using apps such as Skype or FaceTime, and instant messaging can let colleagues know if we’re available, busy or any other ‘presence’ status we choose. Don’t lose touch with your business just because you’re not in the office, or even the country.

At Gradwell we use hosted VoIP and a mobile app so staff can answer landline numbers on their smartphones wherever they are. Returning to ten missed calls when you get back to your desk or worrying that you’ll miss that important sales call while you’re commuting can be a thing of the past. The cost is less than that of a “normal” phone call, and it’s free when staff ring each other.

4.      Business continuity

Businesses often suffer if employees are unable to reach the office due to factors such as severe weather or public transport closure. With cloud computing this burden can be greatly reduced.

If roads are closed because of snow, the Gradwell team use personal equipment, and they can function as if they were in the office. Minimum disruption to customers; minimum cost to the business; and no unnecessary risks for staff.

5.      Security

Devices such as laptops and phones are targets for thieves, and cloud computing brings two main security benefits should you be unlucky enough to have yours lost or stolen. Firstly, your documents are safely stored in the cloud, so your company’s private data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Also, you can be up and working again without delay, it’s just a case of getting your hands on another device.

Far from needing to be technically advanced either as an organisation or an individual, any business can and should reap the rewards of more flexible ways of working. To read more, check out the Techbubbles blog.

Image: Kricket

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