The competitive landscape for businesses is changing. Large businesses that previously relied on economies of scale and large investments in IT infrastructure as a source of advantage have seen a re-balance in power. Recent developments in technology and Cloud computing have enabled smaller companies to grow their businesses faster and compete against larger businesses. With reduced barriers to entry and minimal capital expenditure, entrepreneurs can now access the latest, leading technology.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group revealed that SME leaders in technology adoption increased their annual revenues 15 percentage points faster than those with lower levels of adoption.
Availability of technology
Cloud services have changed the way businesses operate. Whereas good email hosting, backup and online file sharing previously required significant investment, they are now readily available, often for less than the price of a cup of coffee! Cloud technologies have permeated across all core business processes, including:
- Email and collaboration tools, e.g. Office365, Google Apps
- Accounting packages, e.g. Xero
- Customer relationship management systems, e.g. Salesforce.com
- File sharing software, e.g. Box.com
- HR administration, e.g. Timetastic
- Backup and disaster recovery, e.g. Datto
Benefits to small businesses
Thanks to the Cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market, SMEs can now access many of the leading technologies used by large multinationals. The advantages to small businesses are wide reaching, as highlighted below:
- Continuous Availability – the ability to access your information online means you can work from any device, anywhere. This provides unparalleled levels of flexibility and responsiveness to better service your clients.
- Reduced Costs – updates to Cloud services are automatically administered, thereby saving you time and maintenance costs. The nature of the SaaS market means you pay in predictable monthly or annual outgoings, rather than a large upfront capital investment, helping with budgeting and cashflow.
- Scalability – Cloud services can be scaled in accordance with your business growth, making them ideal for fast growing small businesses. Extra capacity can be purchased on an as needed basis, rather than making over-allowances for future requirements.
- Collaboration – with your information being more accessible, it is also easier to share in real time, promoting teamwork and collaboration among employees and clients.
- Data Backup – the inherent nature of Cloud services means that your data resides in the Cloud rather than on a physical device. Cloud providers employ multiple servers across various data centres, helping to prevent data loss and providing a suitable backup option for your business.
- Competitive advantage – with increased efficiency and reduced costs, Cloud services can be a key driver of competitive advantage. 58% of small businesses agreed that Cloud technology helped them punch above their weight and compete against larger businesses.
Taking the leap into the Cloud can be a daunting endeavour for small businesses, which may explain why adoption is still limited. The benefits to small businesses are tenable and realising these can help lay the foundations for future growth.
Selecting the right Cloud provider is critical and and our checklist for selecting a Cloud provider can help. Employing a good IT company to partner with your business is equally important, as they will help to demystify the process and guide you along the way.